- Alexander Aitken
Alexander Craig Aitken, FRS FRSE FRSL (
1 April 1895– 3 November 1967) was one of New Zealand's greatest mathematicians. He studied for a PhD at the University of Edinburgh, where his dissertation, "Smoothing of Data", was considered so impressive that he was awarded a DScin 1926, and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburghbeforehand in 1925. Aitken took a position at Edinburgh in 1925. He was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1936 for his work in statistics, algebraand numerical analysis.
Aitken was one of the best
mental calculators known, and had a prodigious memory. He knew the first 1000 digits of , the 96 recurring digits of 1/97, and memorised the " Aeneid" in high school ( Otago Boys High School, Dunedin, New Zealand). Unfortunately, his inability to forget the horrors he witnessed in World War I led to recurrent depression throughout his life.
He was an accomplished writer, being elected to the
Royal Society of Literaturein 1964 in response to the publication of his war memoirs. He was also an excellent musician, being described by Eric Fenbyas the most accomplished amateur musician he had ever known, and was a champion athlete in his younger days.
Through his collaboration with
Herbert W. Turnbullon a book on canonical matrices (published in 1932), Aitken acquired an Erdős numberof 6.
An annual "Aitken Prize" is awarded by the New Zealand Mathematical Society for the best student talk at their colloquium. The prize was inaugurated in 1995 at the
University of Otago's Aitken Centenary Conference, a joint mathematics and statistics conference held to remember Aitken a hundred years after his birth.
*A. C. Aitken (1935). "On Least Squares and Linear Combinations of Observations", "Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh", 55, 42-48.
*A. C. Aitken and H. Silverstone (1942). "On the Estimation of Statistical Parameters", "Proceedings of the Royal Society of Edinburgh", 1942, 61, 186-194.
*A. C. Aitken (1963). "Gallipoli to the Somme: Recollections of a New Zealand infantryman". Oxford.
Aitken's delta-squared process
*I. M. L. Hunter, An exceptional talent for calculative thinking, "British Journal of Psychology" 53 (3) (1962), 243-258.
* [http://ifs.massey.ac.nz/mathnews/centrefolds/63/Apr1995.shtml New Zealand Mathematical Society Newsletter, Number 63, April 1995 (Centerfold)]
*MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, School of Mathematics and Statistics,
University of St Andrews
** [http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Mathematicians/Aitken.html Aitken biography]
** [http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/HistTopics/Mental_arithmetic.html Memory, mental arithmetic and mathematics]
* [http://www.nzedge.com/heroes/aitken.html NZ Heroes page on Aitken]
* [http://www.austms.org.au/Publ/Gazette/1995/Mar95/aitken.html A.C. Aitken (1895 -- 1967)] , P.C. Fenton, Gazette of the Australian Mathematical Society, March 1995
* [http://web.uvic.ca/econ/aitken.html A.C. Aitken, 1895-1967: A Distinguished New Zealand Mathematician] , David Giles, Economics Department, University of Victoria, Canada
* [http://www.aam314.vzz.net/Aitken.html "Times" obituary]
* [http://www.royalsoc.ac.uk/DServe/dserve.exe?dsqIni=Dserve.ini&dsqApp=Archive&dsqCmd=Show.tcl&dsqSearch=RefNo='EC/1936/01'&dsqDb=Catalog Royal Society citation]
* [http://www.math.waikato.ac.nz/NZMS/aitken05.html Aitken prize]
* [http://www.mentalcalculation.com/misc/bbc1954.html Transcript of 1954 radio interview with Aitken and another mental calculator]
For Aitken's PhD students see MathGenealogy|id=18577
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