Ivor Grattan-Guinness

Last updated

Ivor Grattan-Guinness

Ivor Grattan-Guinness in 2003.
Born(1941-06-23)23 June 1941
Bakewell, England
Died 12 December 2014(2014-12-12) (aged 73)
Residence England
Nationality British
Alma mater Wadham College, Oxford
London School of Economics
University of London
Known for History of mathematics, history of logic
Awards Kenneth O. May Medal
Scientific career
Fields Mathematician, historian, logician
Institutions Middlesex University
London School of Economics
Doctoral students Niccolò Guicciardini
He shared a birthday with the mathematician Alan Turing, born 29 years earlier.

Ivor Owen Grattan-Guinness (23 June 1941 – 12 December 2014) was a historian of mathematics and logic. [1] [2]



Grattan-Guinness was born in Bakewell, England; his father was a mathematics teacher and educational administrator. [1] He gained his bachelor degree as a Mathematics Scholar at Wadham College, Oxford, and an MSc (Econ) in Mathematical Logic and the Philosophy of Science at the London School of Economics in 1966. [1] [3] He gained both the doctorate (PhD) in 1969, and higher doctorate (D.Sc.) in 1978, in the History of Science at the University of London. He was Emeritus Professor of the History of Mathematics and Logic at Middlesex University, and a Visiting Research Associate at the London School of Economics.

He was awarded the Kenneth O. May Medal for services to the History of Mathematics by the International Commission on the History of Mathematics (ICHM) on 31 July 2009, at Budapest, on the occasion of the 23rd International Congress for the History of Science. [4] In 2010, he was elected an Honorary Member of the Bertrand Russell Society.

Grattan-Guinness spent much of his career at Middlesex University. [5] He was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, United States, and a member of the International Academy of the History of Science. [6]

From 1974 to 1981, Grattan-Guinness was editor of the history of science journal Annals of Science . [3] In 1979 he founded the journal History and Philosophy of Logic , [1] and edited it until 1992. He was an associate editor of Historia Mathematica for twenty years from its inception in 1974, and again from 1996.

He also acted as advisory editor to the editions of the writings of C.S. Peirce and Bertrand Russell, and to several other journals and book series. He was a member of the Executive Committee of the International Commission on the History of Mathematics from 1977 to 1993.

Grattan-Guinness gave over 570 invited lectures to organisations and societies, or to conferences and congresses, in over 20 countries around the world. These lectures include tours undertaken in Australia, New Zealand, Italy, South Africa and Portugal.

From 1986 to 1988, Grattan-Guinness was the President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, and for 1992 the Vice-President. In 1991, he was elected an effective member of the Académie Internationale d'Histoire des Sciences. He was the Associate Editor for mathematicians and statisticians for the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004).

Grattan-Guinness took an interest in the phenomenon of coincidence and has written on it for the Society for Psychical Research. He claimed to have a recurrent affinity with one particular number, namely the square of 15 (225), even recounting one occasion when a car was in front of him with the number plate IGG225, i.e. his very initials and that number. He died of heart failure on 12 December 2014, aged 73, survived by his wife Enid Grattan-Guinness. [2]


The work of Grattan-Guinness touched on all historical periods, but he specialised in the development of the calculus and mathematical analysis, and their applications to mechanics and mathematical physics, and in the rise of set theory and mathematical logic. [1] He was especially interested in characterising how past thinkers, far removed from us in time, view their findings differently from the way we see them now (for example, Euclid). He has emphasised the importance of ignorance as an epistemological notion in this task. He did extensive research with original sources both published and unpublished, thanks to his reading and spoken knowledge of the main European languages.

Selected publications

Books written


Books edited



  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Grilly, Tony (31 December 2014). "Ivor Grattan-Guinness obituary: Energetic historian of mathematics and logic". The Guardian .
  2. 1 2 Reisz, Matthew (8 January 2015). "Obituaries: Ivor Grattan-Guinness, 1941–2014". Times Higher Education .
  3. 1 2 "Editor Profile: Professor Ivor Grattan-Guinness" (PDF). Taylor & Francis. March 2005. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  4. Report on the Awarding of the Kenneth O. May Prize to Ivor Grattan-Guinness and Rhada Charan Gupta on the Occasion of the 23rd International Congress of History of Science and Technology, Craig Fraser, ICHM, retrieved 2015-02-04.
  5. "Academic Staff Profile: Prof Ivor Grattan-Guinness". Middlesex University . Archive.org. 1999–2004. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 11 January 2012.
  6. Member profile, IAHS, retrieved 2015-02-04.
  7. Waterhouse, William C. (1972). "Review: Lebesgue's Theory of Integration, by Thomas Hawkins; A History of Vector Analysis, by Michael J. Crowe; The Development of the Foundations of Mathematical Analysis from Euler to Riemann, by I. Grattan-Guinness; and Die Genesis des abstrakten Gruppenbegriffes, by Hans Wussing" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 78 (3): 385–391. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1972-12909-4.
  8. Gillmor, G. Stewart (July 1973). "Review: Joseph Fourier, 1768–1830, by I. Grattan-Guinness". Technology and Culture. 14 (3): 501–503. doi:10.2307/3102345. JSTOR   3102345.
  9. Sainsbury, R. M. (Oct 1979). "Review: Dear Russell—Dear Jourdain, by I. Grattan-Guinness". Mind. New Series. 88 (352): 604–607. JSTOR   2253463.
  10. Ewald, William (2003). "Review: The search for mathematical roots, 1870–1940: Logics, set theories, and the foundations of mathematics from Cantor through Russell to Gödel, by I. Grattan-Guinness" (PDF). Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.). 40 (1): 125–129. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-02-00959-x.