Mathematician:Duncan MacLaren Young Sommerville

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Scots mathematician best known for his work in geometry, including non-Euclidean.

A founder, and first secretary, of the New Zealand Astronomical Society.




  • Born: 24 Nov 1879, Beawar, Rajasthan, India
  • 1899: Awarded a scholarship for University of St Andrews in Scotland
  • 1902: Started teaching at St Andrews
  • 1905: Appointed Lecturer in Mathematics at St Andrews
  • 1915: Appointed as Professor of Pure and Applied Mathematics at Victoria College Wellington, New Zealand
  • 1919: Began to tutor A.C. Aitken with a weekly correspondence
  • Died: 31 Jan 1934, Wellington, New Zealand

Theorems and Definitions


  • 1911: Bibliography of non-Euclidean Geometry, including the Theory of Parallels, the Foundations of Geometry and Space of n Dimensions
  • 1914: Elements of Non-Euclidean Geometry

Critical View

His scholarly and unobtrusive demeanour as a young lecturer won the admiration of his colleagues and pupils in St Andrews where his teaching left a permanent mark. While he was essentially a geometer he had considerable interests in other sciences, and it is noteworthy that the classes which he chose to attend in his fourth year of study had been Anatomy and Chemistry. Crystallography in particular appealed to him, and doubtless these possible outlets influenced his geometrical concepts and led Sommerville to ponder over space filling figures, and gave an early impetus to thoughts in a field he made particularly his own. He had an original mind, and beneath his outward shyness considerable talents lay concealed: his intellectual grasp of geometry was balanced by a deftness in making models, and on the aesthetic side by an undoubted talent with the brush.
-- Herbert Westren Turnbull

His books are adequate, but occasionally muddled, and could have done with being restructured in places.
-- Matt Westwood

Also known as

His name can also be rendered Duncan M'Laren Young Sommerville.