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The Great Mathematician Philippa Fawcett, 1868 – 1948 Connolly, Dennis


Abstract: Philippa Fawcett gained temporary fame when she topped the 1890 Cambridge Tripos Exams. Had Fawcett’s name been Phillip ‘he’ would have had so much more acclaim. To set Philippa’s mathematical brilliance in context we will begin with a description of the Cambridge Tripos Exams. Those who pass the 54 hours of Tripos Exams (two 3-hour exams each day for 9 consecutive week days) are called Wranglers. The top Tripos student is the Senior Wrangler, a truly great honour. This title ensures an immediate position in any University and almost certainly becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society.

Philippa Fawcett the greatest mathematics undergraduate of the U.K. in 1890 was finally awarded a B.A. from the University of Cambridge, in 1948 at the age of 80.

About the speaker: Professor Connolly came from Australia to the University of Western Ontario in London, Ontario in fall of 1966. The following year he set off to return home to Sydney, New South Wales. On his way across the US and Canada, he became stranded by a huge snow storm in Lethbridge, Alberta. A new university was about to open, and Professor Connolly signed on for two years (to teach 14 courses), which has led to more than 50 years at the University of Lethbridge. Professor Connolly's interests have changed from Statistics and his PhD thesis in Fourier Analysis to Spherical Geometry, Teaching strategies and the History of Mathematics.

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