DEATH



GEORGE GREAVES

George Richard Herbert Greaves, Reader in Mathematics at Cardiff University, who was elected a member of the London Mathematical Society on 18 January 1980, died on 24 August 2008, aged 67.

Martin Huxley writes: George Greaves was born in Edinburgh in 1941, where his father was Astronomer Royal. Outside Mathematics, George was a keen cyclist and oarsman. Within the last two years he completed a stage of the Tour de France under exam conditions. George Greaves read Mathematics at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, and applied to do research with Heilbronn at Bristol. Heilbronn arranged to interview him at Henley Regatta; "luckily," said George, "we rowed well." Soon, however, Heilbronn left for Canada, and Hooley took over his student. When Hooley moved to Durham, George Greaves accompanied him, and completed his PhD there. In Durham George met Sheila Trelease, a PhD student in Applied Mathematics, who became his wife.

George Greaves’s first position was at the University of Reading in 1966. In 1969 he joined Hooley’s "useful team" in Number Theory at the University College of South Wales and Monmouthshire in Cardiff, where he remained for the rest of his career, missing his retirement date by two weeks.

George Greaves took his sharp wit and intolerance of mistakes from Heilbronn; his analysis course was feared by the students. His research interests in sieves and divisibility properties of values of polynomials came from Hooley. Sieve methods use ingenious combinatorics and real analysis to show that a given polynomial over the integers takes some values with few prime factors. Greaves’s weighted linear sieve of 1982 takes one such method as far as possible. Besides mathematical skills, this work required tenure and the strength to resist pressures to publish.

George Greaves wrote 25 research papers and a careful clear monograph Sieves in Number Theory (2001). He supervised three PhD students. He is survived by his wife Sheila and two children, Alastair and Hilary.


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