UK Nonlinear News, November 2001


A Tribute to Ian Stewart FRS

By Marty Golubitsky

In April, 2001 Ian Stewart was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in recognition of his contributions to mathematics and to the public understanding of mathematics and science. The first question that occurs to people who are introduced to Ian's work is: How can he do all that? I have known Ian for 25 years and I still find myself asking the same question. Here's part of the answer: Ian is an excellent writer whose first drafts are so good that many of us would be happy to call them our final drafts. In addition to his numerous research papers, he has published many excellent books - at all levels. There are undergraduate texts (Galois Theory, Algebraic Number Theory), popular texts (Catastrophe Theory), advanced texts / monographs (on bifurcation theory and symmetry), trade publications (Does God Play Dice?, Fearful Symmetry, Nature's Numbers, Collapse of Chaos, Life's Other Secrets) and science fiction (The Science of Discworld, Wheelers) to name many but not all. Ian has set a standard for the communication of mathematics and its relationship to science that few have equalled. Moreover, for ten years Ian wrote the monthly "Mathematics Recreation" column in Scientific American. As a tribute to his expositional talents, Ian was asked to give the prestigious Royal Institution / BBC Christmas lectures - just one of two mathematicians ever so honoured.

Ian, trained as an algebraist, was introduced to Nonlinear Science by Christopher Zeeman and the Warwick community during the heady days of catastrophe theory. For the past 15 years Ian's research has focused on equivariant dynamics and its applications. Together we discovered how spatio-temporal symmetries can be built into Hopf bifurcation and applied those ideas to certain pattern forming systems. Montaldi, Roberts, and Stewart developed a theory for equivariant Hamiltonian systems along with generalizations of the Moser-Weinstein theorem. More recently, Ian has pursued applications of dynamical systems in biology with Jack Cohen. Just one more comment: as cited by the Royal Society, Ian has found a way, with Muldoon and Reynolds, to use nonlinear dynamics to aid in the manufacture of higher quality wire.

As you might expect, visiting Ian at his Warwick office is always a treat - so much going on and always interesting. Fortunately, for relaxation, there's always the pub lunch.

Ian Stewart has deservedly been awarded many prizes for his work including the Michael Faraday Award, the Communications Award of the US Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, the 2000 Gold Medal from the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications, and now induction into the Royal Society.


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