Alfred Edward Western

Based on the obituary by J.P. Miller, J. London Math. Soc. 38 (1963) 278-281

Alfred Edward Western died in 1961 at the age of 88. He studied at Cambridge University and was 7th Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos of 1895, but spent his working life as a solicitor. Nevertheless, he was able to maintain an active interest in mathematics. All of his publications are on number theory, apart from an early paper (1899) on groups of order p3q.
His investigations included imaginary quadratic fields of class number 2, reciprocity laws in cyclotomic fields, numerical work - on primes of the form n2+1, expressing numbers as a sum of 4 or 5 cubes, the conjecture pn+1 - pn < pn½, Fermat and Mersenne numbers. He discovered factors of Fn for n=9, 12, 18 and 28 and noted that F7 is composite. He gave proofs of some of Lucas' statements on the primality of 2a-1. He had a great love and outstanding aptitude for numerical calculation.

He undertook the responsibility for completing the publication of A.J.C. Cunningham's work, culminating in his Table of Indices and Primitive Roots (Volume 9 of the Royal Society Mathematical Tables), written with J.C.P. Miller.

For a list of A.E. Western's publications, see The Jahrbuch Project. (His last two papers are not mentioned there, namely On Lucas's and Pepin's tests for the primeness of Mersenne's numbers, JLMS 7 (1932) 140-137 and Note on the magnitude of the difference between successive primes, JLMS 9 (1934) 276-278.)

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Last updated at 18th June 2003