Alan Breach Tayler, CBE, Director of the Oxford Centre for Industrial
Applied Mathematics, died on 28 January 1995, aged 63.
Alan went up to Oxford in 1951 to read Mathematics at Brasenose College.
obtained a first, and after a brief excursion to the Bristol Aircraft Company,
returned to work for a DPhil with George Temple. His thesis, completed
in 1959 and
entitled ‘Problems in compressible flow’, contained a mixture
approximate and numerical solutions which foreshadowed the new practical
mathematics that he embraced later. He became University Lecturer and Tutorial
Fellow of St Catherine's Society in 1959.
During the next twenty-five years, Alan Tayler brought a new ethos to
mathematics. This change came about through his recognition that the status
the 1960s, which comprised a delicate balance between theory and practice
in the area
of applied mechanics, was capable of far-reaching generalisation; indeed,
he saw that
such a development was essential since the following decades were to be
by computers and an ever-increasing need for mathematical modelling. In
Leslie Fox, he initiated the mathematical Study Groups with Industry,
academic and industrial researchers interact in week-long workshops. These
immediate success: (1) with industry, who found new insights into their
and new recruiting possibilities; (2) with students, whose enthusiasm to
theoretical knowledge soon led to the highly popular MSc in Mathematical
Modelling and Numerical Analysis; and (3) with faculty, both pure and applied,
found an undreamed of source of fascinating new theoretical problems. For
one intellectual consequence was the use of industrial case studies to
uncover the new
field of ‘free boundary problems’, on which several thousand
learned articles have
appeared since 1970.