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Patrick du Val

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26 March 1903

Cheadle Hulme (near Manchester), Cheshire, England

22 Jan 1987

Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, England

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Patrick du Val suffered from bad health as a child and was educated mostly by his mother. He took a correspondence course and was awarded First Class Honours from the University of London in 1926, having been an external student.

Talented in many different subjects such as mathematics, languages and history, perhaps the most significant step in his life came when he and his mother moved to a village near Cambridge. They got to know Baker and he persuaded Patrick to research into algebraic geometry at Cambridge. Baker supervised his research and he received a Ph.D. in 1930. During his period as a research student he had many famous geometers as fellow research students and he formed a particular friendship with Coxeter and Semple .

Du Val visited Rome working with Enriques , then in 1934 he visited Princeton and attended lectures by Alexander , Eisenhart , Lefschetz , Veblen , Wedderburn and Weyl . He held posts in Manchester, where he stayed for five years, Istanbul, where he learnt then wrote in Turkish and the USA where he spent three years. Rather unhappy in the USA, he returned to England, first taking up a post in Bristol, then London in 1954 where he remained until he retired in 1970. Together with Semple he led the London Geometry Seminar during the time he spent in London.

After he retired Du Val returned to Istanbul and for three years he held the same post as he had held 30 years before. Then he returned to England and lived in Cambridge in his retirement.

Du Val's early work before he became a research student at Cambridge was on on relativity. He published on the De Sitter model of the universe and Grassmann 's tensor calculus.

His doctorate was on algebraic geometry and in his thesis he generalised a result of Schoute . He worked on algebraic surfaces, especially during his time in Rome, and later in his career du Val became interested in elliptic functions .

Du Val was always interested in teaching as well as research. His style as a lecturer is described in these terms in :

... his raucous asthmatic delivery gave him a somewhat forbidding manner, yet he was most kind and sympathetic to his students and always willing to spend time coaching the weaker ones among them.

Source:School of Mathematics and Statistics University of St Andrews, Scotland