Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer Bt KBE FRS
Peter Swinnerton-Dyer was a renowned mathematician specialising in number theory — the advanced study of the relationships and properties of numbers. Today, this field has important applications in computer science and cryptography. Peter was best known for his collaboration with Bryan Birch in putting forward one of the US$1 million ‘Millennium Prize’ problems, the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture.
With Bryan, Peter worked to explore the properties of what are known as elliptic curves using one of the first electronic computers. Their conjecture is often considered the first non-trivial mathematical problem to arise from such computer use. As well as his mathematical research, Peter also worked on the operating system for the TITAN computer built in the 1960s at the University of Cambridge.
Amongst Peter’s awards were the Sylvester Medal of the Royal Society and the 2006 Pólya Prize of the London Mathematical Society. He was invested with a KBE in 1987, though as a baronet he was already formally known as Sir Peter. He was also Chairman of the UK University Grants Committee.
Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer Bt KBE FRS died on 26 December 2018.
Interest and expertise