Frank Plumpton Ramsey
was in born 22 Feb 1903, and died in 19 Jan 1930 following an operation
to relieve jaundice
. During his short life he produced a wide range of writing in the subjects of maths
, and philosophy
He was the eldest child, and had 2 brothers and 1 sister; one of his brothers Michael went on to become Archbishop of Canterbury
. He went to Winchester College, from where he won a scholarship
to Trinity College Cambridge
which he entered in 1920. He was respected and popular as an undergraduate
,his friend and contemporaryR. B. Braithwaite said about him 1
As a person, no less than as a thinker, Ramsey was an ornament to Cambridge. From his undergraduate days he had been recognised as an authority on any abstract subject, and his directness of approach and candour were an inspiration to his associates. His enormous physical size fitted well the range of his intellect, and his devastating laugh suited his power of humorously discarding irrelevancies, which power enabled him to be both subtle and profound in the highest degree.
In 1926 he was appointed lecturer
and soon after made a 'Director Of Studies'. In the short time he had left to him, his lectures '...impressed young students by their remarkable clarity and enthusiasm.
It was his mathmatical work on combinatorics
that has won his enduring fame however. The paper On a problem of formal logic
presented to the London Mathematical Society on 13 December 1928, and published in the Proceedings of the London Mathematical Society in 1930, lead to a whole new branch of mathematics known as Ramsey theory
His two papers on economics
Ramsey, A contribution to the theory of taxation
and A mathematical theory of saving
, also lead to important new insights
and areas of study.
It seems philosophy, however, that was Ramsey's real love. His works such as Universals
(1925), Facts and
(1927), Universals of law an of fact
(1929), and General propositions and causality
(1929) are highly regarded, and have recently gained more attention.
that all this work was produced by one man in such a short life, especially when you consider his working practices :-
He produced his remarkable output in four hours a day - he found it too exacting to do more - in the mornings, with afternoons and evenings often spent walking or listening to records. He listened a lot to classical music, both live and recorded, and was a keen hill walker. 1
1. R B Braithwaite, Frank Plumpton Ramsey, J. London Math. Soc. 6 (1931), 75-78.
Primary source :- http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/history/Mathematicians/Ramsey.html, by J J O'Connor and E F Robertson