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Peter Swinnerton-Dyer

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Peter Swinnerton-Dyer

Peter Swinnerton-Dyer at the workshop
"Explicit methods in number theory" in Oberwolfach, 2007
Henry Peter Francis Swinnerton-Dyer

(1927-08-02)2 August 1927
Died26 December 2018(2018-12-26) (aged 91)
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge
Known forBirch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture
AwardsPólya Prize (2006)
Sylvester Medal (2006)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Cambridge
Doctoral advisorsJohn Littlewood
André Weil
Doctoral studentsJean-Louis Colliot-Thélène
Miles Reid

Sir Henry Peter Francis Swinnerton-Dyer, 16th Baronet, KBE, FRS (2 August 1927 – 26 December 2018) was an English mathematician specialising in number theory at the University of Cambridge. As a mathematician he was best known for his part in the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer conjecture relating algebraic properties of elliptic curves to special values of L-functions, which was developed with Bryan Birch during the first half of the 1960s with the help of machine computation, and for his work on the Titan operating system.[2]


Swinnerton-Dyer was the son of Sir Leonard Schroeder Swinnerton Dyer, 15th Baronet, and his wife Barbara, daughter of Hereward Brackenbury. He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford, Eton College and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was supervised by J. E. Littlewood, and spent a year abroad as a Commonwealth Fund Fellow at the University of Chicago.[3] He was later made a Fellow of Trinity, and was Master of St Catharine's College from 1973 to 1983 and vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge from 1979 to 1981. In 1983 he was made an Honorary Fellow of St Catharine's.

In that same year, he became Chairman of the University Grants Committee and then from 1989, Chief Executive of its successor, the Universities Funding Council.

He was elected Fellow of the Royal Society in 1967 and was made a KBE in 1987.[3] In 1981, he was awarded an Honorary Degree (Doctor of Science) by the University of Bath.[4] In 2006 he was awarded the Sylvester Medal,[5] and also the Pólya Prize (LMS).[6]

Swinnerton-Dyer was, in his younger days, an international bridge player, representing the British team twice in the European Open teams championship. In 1953 at Helsinki he was partnered by Dimmie Fleming: the team came second out of fifteen teams. In 1962 he was partnered by Ken Barbour; the team came fourth out of twelve teams at Beirut.[7]

He married Dr Harriet Crawford in 1983.[8][9]


Swinnerton-Dyer died on 26 December 2018 at the age of 91.[10]


  • Swinnerton-Dyer, H.P.F. (1974), Analytic theory of Abelian varieties, LMS Lecture Notes, vol. 14, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-20526-3.
  • Swinnerton-Dyer, Peter (2001), A brief guide to algebraic number theory, LMS Student Text, Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-00423-3.

See also


  1. ^ Sleeman, Elizabeth (2003), The International Who's Who 2004, Routledge, ISBN 1-85743-217-7
  2. ^ "Number theory expert and co-creator of the 'beautiful' Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture". Daily Telegraph. No. 50890. 1 January 2019. p. 31.
  3. ^ a b "Dyer, Sir (Henry) Peter Francis Swinnerton (1927–2018)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/odnb/9780198614128.013.90000380602. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  4. ^ "Honorary Graduates 1989 to present". University of Bath. Retrieved 18 February 2012.
  5. ^ "Sylvester Medal". Royal Society. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  6. ^ Sheng, Yunhe. "List of LMS prize winners". London Mathematical Society. Retrieved 8 November 2022.
  7. ^ Hasenson P. British Bridge Almanack. 77, London. pp. 400–1
  8. ^ "Marriages". The Times. 26 May 1983. p. 20.
  9. ^ Reid, Miles (9 January 2019). "Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 August 2022.
  10. ^ "Professor Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer Bt KBE FRS (1927–2018)". St. Catharine's College, Cambridge. 28 December 2018.
Baronetage of England Preceded byLeonard Schroeder Swinnerton Dyer Baronet(of Tottenham) 1975–2018 Succeeded byDavid Dyer-Bennett Academic offices Preceded byEdwin Ernest Rich Master of St Catharine's College, Cambridge 1973–1983 Succeeded byBarry Supple Preceded bySir Alan Cottrell Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge 1979–1981 Succeeded bySir Harry Hinsley
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Peter Swinnerton-Dyer
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