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Shaun Wylie

jack wylie, dr shaun wylie british
Shaun Wylie 17 January 1913 – 2 October 2009 was a British mathematician and World War II codebreaker

Contents

  • 1 Early life
  • 2 World War II codebreaking
  • 3 Post-war
  • 4 Notes
  • 5 References
  • 6 External links

Early life

Wylie was born in Oxford, England, the fourth son of Sir Francis Wylie, later the first Warden of Rhodes House in Oxford He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then Winchester College He won a scholarship to New College, Oxford where he studied mathematics and classics In 1934, he went to study topology at Princeton University, obtaining a PhD in 1937 with Solomon Lefschetz as his supervisor At Princeton he met fellow English mathematician Alan Turing He became a fellow of Trinity Hall, Cambridge in 1938/1939

World War II codebreaking

Wylie contributed to the breaking of the Enigma machine code

During World War II, Turing had been recruited to work at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre Turing wrote to Wylie around December 1940, who was by then teaching at Wellington College, inviting him to work at Bletchley Park He accepted, and arrived in February 1941 He joined Turing's section, Hut 8, which was working on solving the Enigma machine as used by the Kriegsmarine He became head of the crib subsection, and allocated time on the bombe codebreaking machines Hugh Alexander, successor to Turing as head of Hut 8, commented that "except for Turing, no-one made a bigger contribution to the success of Hut 8 than Shaun Wylie; he was astonishingly quick and resourceful and contributed to theory and practice in a number of different directions"

Wylie transferred in Autumn 1943 to work on "Tunny", a German teleprinter cipher He married Odette Murray, a WREN in the section In 1945, soon after the victory in Europe, Wylie demonstrated how Colossus — electronic machines used to help solve Tunny — could have been used unmodified to break the Tunny "motor wheels", a task which had been previously done by hand While at Bletchley Park, he became president of the dramatic club He had also played international hockey for Scotland, but according to fellow codebreaker I J Good, he "never mentioned any of his successes"

Post-war

After the war, he was a fellow at Trinity Hall until 1958 and lectured in mathematics He was the PhD advisor for Frank Adams, Max Kelly, Crispin Nash-Williams, William Tutte and Christopher Zeeman With Peter Hilton, he authored Homology Theory: An Introduction to Algebraic Topology, published in 1960

In 1958, he became Chief Mathematician at GCHQ, the UK signals intelligence organisation In July 1969, he was sent a draft paper by James H Ellis, another GCHQ mathematician, about the possibility of what was termed "non-secret encryption", or what is now more commonly known as public-key cryptography, on which Wylie commented "unfortunately, I can't see anything wrong with this" He retired in 1973, and taught at Cambridgeshire High School for Boys later Hills Road Sixth Form College in Cambridge for seven years He was elected an honorary fellow at Trinity Hall in 1980

Wylie supervised five PhD students at Cambridge, through whom he has 1037 "descendants" according to the American Mathematical Society Mathematical Genealogy Project In addition he influenced the intellectual development of generations of pupils at the Cambridgeshire High School for Boys / Hills Road Sixth Form College where he taught maths and classical Greek and where he also produced plays, such as Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard and coached the school Chess Team which rather than playing other schools, played and usually won against college and university teams He also came out of retirement temporarily to teach Mathematics at Long Road Sixth Form College

After retirement from teaching, Wylie was instrumental in the founding of the Liberal Democrats and in the Cambridge-based University of the Third Age U3A and at the time of his death was preparing to read in the next Cambridge Greek Play, Aeschylus' Agamemnon

Shaun "Doc" Wylie, as he was known to his pupils and students, possessed an incisive insightful intellect and was a man who brought good humour to those around He was reticent and modest about his many significant accomplishments He would patiently encourage and coach those who he felt were promising but under-performing He was an inspiration to those who came in contact with him

His eldest son, the late Keith Wylie 1945–1999, a barrister, was a croquet international and open champion of Great Britain

He died on 2 October 2009

Notes

  1. ^ a b Obituary — Shaun Wylie: member of Bletchley Park code-breaking team, The Times, 5 November 2009
  2. ^ a b c d e Dr Shaun Wylie, 1913–2009, Trinity Hall, Cambridge, UK
  3. ^ Deaths Archived 21 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine, Rhodes House Trust, Oxford, UK
  4. ^ a b c An interview with Shaun Wylie Archived 10 March 2015 at the Wayback Machine on 21 June 1985, The Princeton Mathematics Community in the 1930s, Transcript Number 45 PMC 5
  5. ^ a b c d e Shaun Wylie at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. ^ Trinity Hall Newsletter, Spring 2005
  7. ^ a b Andrew Hodges, Alan Turing: The Enigma, Simon & Schuster, 1983, p 198
  8. ^ Michael Smith, Station X, revised edition 2004, p 117
  9. ^ Ralph Erskine, 2001, p 58
  10. ^ "Not all our own way", Bletchley Park History, "Articles from our archives", http://wwwbletchleyparkorguk, last accessed 12 October 2009
  11. ^ Wylie, 2001, p 318
  12. ^ Smith, 2004, pp 159-160
  13. ^ Randall, 2006, p 148
  14. ^ a b Kahn, 1991, pp 137-138
  15. ^ a b Good, 2006, p 209
  16. ^ "Notes on contributors", p 532 in Michael Smith and Ralph Erskine, editors, Action This Day, 2001
  17. ^ Steven Levy, Crypto, 2001, p 318
  18. ^ Keith Wylie Dead at 54 Archived 29 July 2010 at the Wayback Machine, The Times, 1999

References

  • Ralph Erskine, "Breaking Air Force and Army Enigma", pp 47–76 in Michael Smith and Ralph Erskine eds, Action This Day, 2001
  • David Kahn, Seizing the Enigma, 1991
  • Brian Randall, "Of Men and Machines", pp 141–149 in B Jack Copeland editor, Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Shaun Wylie, "Breaking Tunny and the Birth of Colossus", pp 317–348 in Michael Smith and Ralph Erskine, editors, Action This Day, 2001
  • Jack Good, "From Hut 8 to the Newmanry", pp 204–222 in B Jack Copeland editor, Colossus: The Secrets of Bletchley Park's Codebreaking Computers, Oxford University Press, 2006
  • Erskine, Ralph; Smith, Michael, eds 2011, The Bletchley Park Codebreakers, Biteback Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-1-84954-078-0  Updated and extended version of Action This Day: From Breaking of the Enigma Code to the Birth of the Modern Computer Bantam Press 2001

External links

  • O'Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F, "Shaun Wylie", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews 
  • Photograph of Christopher Zeeman and Shaun Wylie taken 25 February 2000
  • Obituary, The Daily Telegraph, 21 October 2009

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