An obituary for Ian Porteous has appeared in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2011/feb/17/ian-porteous-obituary

## Memories of Martin Gardner...

posted by Kevin Houston

The March 2011 issue of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society has some memories of Martin Gardner from Persi Diaconis, Ronald Graham, Donald Knuth, James Randi and others:...

## Email slog

posted by Kevin Houston

I’ve spent a lot of time recently writing my lectures for our new History of Mathematics module. (Strangest fact I discovered: Geoffrey Chaucer wrote a textbook for his son. On the astrolabe. Weird. That’s got to be an internet hoax surely. Somebody must have added it to Wikipedia as a joke.) Anyhow, I’ve been falling behind with my email so today I am slogging my way through it, replying and apologizing for lateness. I’m just taking a break to relax. What have I been up to recently? I gave my card cheating talk in Manchester at Aquinas College. Thanks to Kate Clitheroe and John Kennedy for organizing the event and making me welcome. Next week I’m giving my Poincare Conjecture talk in Belfast. A lot has happened since I last gave it – the conjecture’s been proved for one thing! I’d better get back to that email...

## Ian Porteous (1930-2011)...

posted by Kevin Houston

I learned last week that Ian Porteous of Liverpool University mathematics department had passed away. I first met Ian during a conference in Liverpool when I was a postgraduate student and got to know him better around the time he retired when I had a postdoctoral position there. As everyone who met him would probably say, he was a bit of a character and always had a story to tell. Retirement didn’t seem to slow him down. He was highly active in taking mathematics out to schools with his maths roadshow and was even involved in a Masterclass the day before he died. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of him to hand; a web search and look at his Wikipedia entry didn’t locate one either. If you have not already done so, then have a look at his book Geometric Differentiation. It’s a trove of interesting results about the geometry of curves and surfaces. His notation is non-standard but don’t let that put you off. Strangely enough, I had been telling my Group Theory tutorial group about him last Monday because I realized that the milk crate problem he used to carry with him on his roadshow would exemplify a point I wished to make. After the tutorial I returned to my office to find an email saying that he had died. His contribution to the world of mathematics, in particular his work as an ambassador for the subject in his school outreach work, will be missed by many. (The Milk crate problem: How can you arrange 6 milk bottles in a 3-by-3 milk crate so that each row contains two milk bottles and each column contains...