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Charles Terence Clegg Wall

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14 Dec 1936

Bristol, England

Presentation Wikipedia
Terry Wall's father Charles Wall was a schoolteacher. Terry Wall attended Marlborough College. He then entered Trinity College, Cambridge from where he was awarded a B.A. and, in 1960, a Ph.D.

Wall had already been awarded a fellowship at Trinity College in 1959 before the award of his doctorate and he held this fellowship until 1964. He did not remain in Cambridge for all of this period, for instance he was awarded a Harkness Fellowship which allowed him to spend the academic year 1960-61 at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. In addition to his fellowship, Wall was appointed a College Lecturer at Cambridge when he returned from the United States in 1961.

In 1964 Wall moved from Cambridge to Oxford where he was appointed Reader in Mathematics and a fellow of St Catherine's College. After a year he was appointed to the chair of Pure Mathematics at the University of Liverpool, taking up the professorship in Liverpool in 1965. During 1967 was a Royal Society Leverhulme visiting professor in Mexico. A SERC senior research fellowship from 1983 to 1988 enabled him to concentrate on research over this period.

Wall's research is mostly in the area of geometric topology and related algebra. In particular he has made substantial contributions to the study of singularities, especially isolated singularities, of differentiable maps and algebraic varieties. He has written a number of highly influential books including Surgery on compact manifolds (1970) and A geometric introduction to topology (1972). This latter work is an introduction to algebraic topology for a reader without background in general topology . The book builds up to a proof of the Alexander duality theorem in the plane; a result which generalises the Jordan curve theorem.

In 1995 Wall published The geometry of topological stability written jointly with A A du Plessis. His current research continues the studies of applications of techniques developed in this book which is having spin-offs to results about hypersurfaces in projective space. To date he has published over 160 research articles on mathematical topics.

Wall's work has led to him receiving many awards. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1969 and the Royal Society has honoured him further with the award of its Sylvester Medal in 1988. He was a member of the Council of the Royal Society from 1974 to 1976.

He has served the London Mathematical Society in many ways over a large number of years being on the Council from 1972 to 1980 and then for a second spell from 1992 to 1996. He served as the 59th President of the London Mathematical Society from 1978-80. The Society has made him a number of awards to mark his fine mathematical achievements, including the award of their Junior Berwick Prize, their Whitehead Prize in 1976 and their Pólya Prize in 1988. The Whitehead Prize and the Pólya Prize were awarded for his work on surgery on manifolds and L-theory. In 1990 Wall was elected a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences .

Outside mathematics Wall has many interests including home wine making and an interest in politics which has seen him as treasurer of the Wirral Area SDP from 1985 to 1988 and then becoming a member of the Wirral West Liberal Democrat Party.

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