Richard Alexander Robb


Born: 7 September 1901 in Glasgow, Scotland
Died: 22 March 1977 in Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, Scotland


Richard Robb attended Queen's Park School, Glasgow, completing his school studies in 1918. He first matriculated at the University of Glasgow in October of the same year. In 1919 he was awarded the Sir Walter Scott Bursary in Arts. He graduated M.A. with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy in 1922 and graduated B.Sc. in the following year, being awarded a distinction in mathematics and physics. He had been awarded the Euing Scholarship after his performance in the M.A. examinations and this meant that he worked for three years as an assistant to the Professor of Mathematics, at that time G A Gibson.

A Commonwealth Fund Fellowship allowed Robb to study for a Master's Degree in astronomy at the University of Michigan from 1926 to 1928. He returned to Glasgow where he was appointed as a Lecturer in Mathematics in 1928. He spent time as a postgraduate student of astronomy at the University of Lund in Sweden, then in 1936 obtained a D.Sc. for a thesis entitled Studies in Stellar Statistics with particular reference to Type A stars.

Robb held his lecturership in Mathematics until 1944 when, remaining at Glasgow University, he was appointed as Mitchell Lecturer in Statistics. In 1948 he was promoted to Senior Lecturer in Statistics. He continued in that post until he retired in 1966.

It was not only as a mathematician that Robb excelled for he was also a world class athlete. He won several Scottish sprint titles and competed in the Olympic Games held in Amsterdam in 1928 as a member of the British sprint team.

Robb was a member of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society, joining in February 1925. He was honoured by the Society by being elected as president for session 1934-35. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1931. He was also elected to the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 4 March 1929, his proposers being Thomas Murray MacRobert, John McWhan, Donald Neil McArthur, William Arthur.

An obituary, written by Robert A Rankin, appears in the Royal Society of Edinburgh Year Book 1978, pages 52-53.
We give a version of this obituary at THIS LINK.

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

November 2007
MacTutor History of Mathematics
[http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Robb.html]