Brian Kuttner

Born: 11 April 1908 in London, England
Died: 2 January 1992 in Birmingham, England

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Brian Kuttner's father was George Henry Kuttner (born at Lukes, London about 1878) who was a manufacturing furrier. His mother was Lilian Frances Kuttner (born in Stepney about 1875). Brian Kuttner had a younger brother Conrad Adolph and sister Elsa Marion (twins born 1910).

Brian Kuttner attended University College School in London and from there he won a scholarship to study at Christ's College Cambridge. He graduated in 1929 and then continued to undertake research at Cambridge. Kuttner spent a while in Göttingen studying with Edmund Landau and received his doctorate in 1934.

However, before the award of his doctorate Kuttner had been appointed in 1932 as an assistant lecturer at the University of Birmingham. At Birmingham Kuttner joined the Mathematics Department headed by G N Watson. He was to spend the rest of his career at Birmingham being promoted to lecturer in 1936, Senior Lecturer in 1952, Reader in 1955 and then to the chair of Mathematical Analysis in 1969.

Kuttner's work was on [1]:-

... Fourier series, strong summability, Riesz means, Nörland methods, and Tauberian theory.

Most of Kuttner's early work is on Fourier series and summability. Hardy quotes some of these early results of Kuttner's in his treatise Divergent series (1949). Maddox, in [1], writes:-

... at the age of only 26, Kuttner proved a basic theorem in the general theory of trigonometric series, a result delightful for both the deceptive simplicity of its statement and the elegance of its proof. ... Zygmund greatly admired this theorem of Kuttner, which now occupies an honoured place in Zygmund's monumental work on trigonometric series.

Throughout his career he continued to publish a steady stream of high quality research papers right up to the time of his death. There was no signs that his output was decreasing when he retired, rather the reverse since the publication of 8 papers in 1978 indicates that his research activity increased after he retired from the Birmingham chair in 1975. Mathematical Reviews lists over 120 of his papers, and the continuation of joint papers appearing after his death show clearly that even into his 80s his love for his favourite topics of analysis remained as strong as ever.

Kuttner's interests outside mathematics included travelling and walking. He regularly attended the annual British Mathematical Colloquium and I [EFR] remember him as someone held in great respect by my colleagues who were working in analysis when I began attending these Colloquia in the second half of the 1960s.

Maddox sums up Kuttner's many fine qualities [1]:-

Brian Kuttner was a kind, helpful and gentle man, revered by his research students, admired by the numerous analysts who collaborated with him in research, and greatly respected by all who were fortunate to have known him.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

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BMC morning speaker1957

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JOC/EFR November 1997
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School of Mathematics and Statistics
University of St Andrews, Scotland

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