O’Shea wins mathematics award

College President Donal O’Shea, along with fellow mathematicians David Cox and John Little, won the American Mathematical Society’s Leroy P. Steele Award for Exposition for their book “Ideals, Varieties and Algorithms” ( abbreviated to CLO, for the last initial of each author).

Released in 1992 and now in its fourth edition, CLO is widely known as a guide to algebraic geometry which makes the complex and abstract subject more accessible to students and researchers. The authors began writing the book in 1988 to provide background to undergraduate students who, years before, would not have been able to understand algebraic geometry without sophisticated theoretical tools. Over the last four editions, the authors have continued to open up this complex topic to undergraduate students and researchers.

“Algebraic geometry has a reputation for being impenetrably technical and abstract. By requiring only linear algebra as a prerequisite, the book by Cox, Little and O’Shea invites a broad audience of readers into this central branch of mathematics,” the American Mathematical Society said in a press release.

O’Shea was a mathematics professor at Mount Holyoke College for more than 30 years before he came to New College in 2012. In 2008, O’Shea also received the Peano Prize for his book “The Poincaré Conjecture: In Search of the Shape of the Universe.”

The Steele prize in mathematical exposition is a highly prestigious award with a prize of $5,000.

“Many wonderful books and papers in mathematics have appeared in the last few decades, and those singled out by the Steele prize are among the best,” the authors said in their response to the award. “Having our book listed in this company gives us great pleasure, and we are deeply touched by the citation.”


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