John Mackintosh Howie

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John Mackintosh Howie CBE FRSE (23 May 1936 – 26 December 2011) was a Scottish mathematician and prominent semigroup theorist.[1]

John Mackintosh Howie
Born23 May 1936
Died26 December 2011(2011-12-26) (aged 75)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
AwardsKeith Prize
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of St Andrews
ThesisSome Problems on the Theory of Semigroups (1962)
Doctoral advisorGraham Higman


Howie was educated at Robert Gordon's College, Aberdeen, the University of Aberdeen and Balliol College, Oxford, where he wrote a Ph.D. thesis under the direction of Graham Higman.

In 1966 University of Stirling was established with Walter D. Munn (fr) at head of the department of mathematics. Munn recruited Howie to teach there.[2]:290

According to Christopher Hollings,

...a 'British school' of semigroup theory cannot be said to have taken off properly until the mid-1960s when John M. Howie completed an Oxford DPhil in semigroup theory (partly under Preston's influence) and Munn began to supervise research students in semigroups (most notably, Norman R. Reilly).[2]

He won the Keith Prize of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, 1979–81. He was Regius Professor of Mathematics at the University of St Andrews from 1970–1997. No successor to this chair was named until 2015 when Igor Rivin was appointed.

Howie was charged with reviewing universal, comprehensive secondary education in Scotland, which was viewed as failing its students. Impressed with education in Denmark, his committee proposed a tracking scheme to improve academic outcomes, and communicated recommendations in Upper Secondary Education in Scotland (1992).[3][4]

Public appointmentsEdit


  • 1976: An Introduction to Semigroup Theory, Academic Press MR0466355
  • 1991: Automata and Languages, Clarendon Press ISBN 0-19-853424-8 MR1254435
  • 1992: Upper Secondary Education in Scotland (Howie Report)[5]
  • 1995: Fundamentals of Semigroup Theory, Clarendon Press ISBN 0-19-851194-9 MR1455373
  • 2001: Real Analysis, Springer books ISBN 1-85233-314-6 MR1826051
  • 2003: Complex Analysis, Springer books ISBN 1-85233-733-8 MR1975725
  • 2006: Fields and Galois Theory, Springer books ISBN 978-1-85233-986-9 MR2180311


  1. ^ Published on Monday 23 January 2012 00:00. "Obituary: Professor John Howie, academic who helped reform Scottish education - Obituaries". Retrieved 23 January 2012.
  2. ^ a b Hollings, Christopher (2014), Mathematics across the Iron Curtain: A History of the Algebraic Theory of Semigroups, American Mathematical Society, p. 185, ISBN 978-1-4704-1493-1, Zbl 1317.20001.
  3. ^ "Howie Report" (PDF). University of Edinburgh.
  4. ^ Andrew McPherson (1992) "The Howie Committee on Post-compulsory Schooling" (PDF). Scottish Government Yearbook.
  5. ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Howie Committee", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews

External linksEdit