Irish mathematician Des MacHale honoured with Maths Week award

17 Oct 2016

Sheila Donegan, co-founder of Maths Week Ireland presenting Des MacHale with his award. Image: Conor McCabe Photography

For his service to the advancement of Irish mathematics, UCC’s Des MacHale has been presented with a special award to mark the beginning of Maths Week 2016.

Currently serving as an emeritus professor of mathematics at University College Cork (UCC), Des MacHale is renowned in mathematics for his research into the area of groups and rings.

However, his love for mathematics began from a young age growing up in Castlebar, Co Mayo where he attended Saint Gerald’s College before studying mathematical science at NUI Galway.

After his undergraduate, MacHale went on to do a PhD at the University of Keele in the UK under German mathematics professor, Hans Liebeck.

MacHale is also well known for communicating his love of mathematics with the public, in particular highlighting the life and legacy of George Boole, one of Ireland’s greatest ever mathematicians.

MacHale is the first winner of the Maths Week Ireland award that will continue to honour individuals who have significantly contributed to raising awareness of mathematics in Ireland.

An award fitting for a mathematician

MacHale was presented with a bronze sculpture of a Möbius strip created by Irish silversmith Seamus Gill.

The Möbius strip is an important mathematical form as the strip has only one side. If you trace over the surface, you will appear to go over to the other side but in fact, you will end up back where you started.

Speaking at the award ceremony, MacHale said: “I humbly accept this prestigious award on behalf of my colleagues at UCC, my former students now working in mathematical areas all over the world, and the many people in radio, television, and journalism, who have given me the opportunity of promoting the wonderful and useful subject of mathematics.

“Maths Week is a fantastic opportunity for people of all ages to engage with maths through fun games, puzzles, and challenges. I would like to wish all those involved every success for the week.”

MacHale has previously contributed maths puzzles for readers to decipher, with many others having contributed their own puzzles over the course of the past few months.

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic