UK Nonlinear News, November 1999

(A conference on Mathematical Modelling of Nonlinear Systems was held in Leeds 20-21 September 1999 to celebrate John Brindley's contributions to applied mathematics following his recent retirement from the school of mathematics.)

A Tribute to John Brindley

By John Ockendon

John Brindley has been a global champion of British Applied Mathematics for over 30 years. To be more precise, his energy and warmth have been a source of inspiration to researchers and teachers who espouse the British tradition of blending theory and practice, be it at the BAMC bar or in plenary sessions at international conferences. An extreme case, one side of which has been recounted to participants at John's birthday dinner, concerned 3 young academics, struggling to lift their ancient university's reputation in the late 60's. They became so disconsolate at the UCL BTMC that John whisked them to an establishment in Soho guaranteed to take the weight of the world off their shoulders. The details of subsequent events are not suitable for this family newsletter but I can assert that, as well as the world, it was discovered the following morning that a travellers cheque for the then enormous sum of $100 was also lifted from the said shoulders.

For the less personable among us, it is astonishing that so many of John's colleagues are also his very close friends. Prominent among them is the ultimate enfant terrible, Eric Varley, and John and Eric's international network has done more to succour applied mathematics than many a hierachical organisation dedicated to the same end. So it is wonderful to hear that John's Research Professorship will allow him the freedom to continue to spread bonhomie and wisdom to all of us labouring through the dark ages of RAE's and QAA's.

John Ockendon (

A Tribute to John Brindley

By Graeme Wake

I am really pleased to write this tribute to John Brindley. Adjectives to fit him are not hard to find: ones like "initiator", "facilitator","encourager", "helper", "friend", etc., all come to mind on top of his enormous capacity to lead research, transmit ideas, stimulate others- especially students, and to read situations with enormous astuteness and wisdom. Coupled with his love of social occasions, it is not hard to see why he was the central figure at the London Mathematical Society symposium on Modelling of Nonlinear Systems in Leeds on 20-21st September. This attracted a large number of followers. Tributes flowed in a well-deserved way, albeit in a lovely convivial atmosphere. It was enjoyed by all, not least this well-travelled antipodean.

"Mathematicians are not extroverts" it is often said... John Brindley is certainly a counter-example to this. He is known for his interactions between groups and a large amount of really good social engineering owes its origin to him. Coupled with a certain amount of necessary craftiness, he hits the mark more times than most of us. We need more people like him to spread the undersold message that "Mathematics is Hi-Tech" and to get resources channelled into our discipline.

What a legacy he has created (or is creating, now as a Research Professor at the University of Leeds). A good crew of research students and associates-all with a commitment to the theme that "the world is nonlinear" and can be modelled with nonlinear systems!! Of course we are disciples to this cause. He has travelled the world making contacts, doing research and speaking about it. All with an outcome of A+. Rarely can you find a centre where John has not been and is well-known.

His contributions at Leeds have been enormous.

The Truscott-Brindley model for plankton-nutrient interactions is one of a number of many nice achievements. Having casually mentioned this area to John in 1990, I find the subsequent outcome enormously satisfying and routinely include this model as a part of my fourth year course on "Mathematical Models in Biology" now here in Canterbury, New Zealand. Well done John.

John is a family man and a Christian as well. He loves ceremony and sophistication for the best of reasons: one should do things in style. Here, Here!! He is supported by his charming wife Bronwyn and family who provides a steadying influence on John's tendency to try to do everything at once.

John, your friends and colleagues worldwide salute you and wish you and Bronwyn well.

Graeme C. Wake

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Page Created: 22nd October 1999.
Last Updated: 28th October 1999.