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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