John Edensor Littlewood

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John Edensor Littlewood (June 9 1885 - September 6 1977) was a British mathematician.

Littlewood was born in Rochester in Kent. At school he was taught by F. S. Macaulay, now known for his contributions to ideal theory. He studied at the University of Cambridge. He was the Senior Wrangler in the Mathematical Tripos, beating out even G.H. Hardy.

Most of his work was in the field of mathematical analysis. He began research under the supervision of Ernest William Barnes, working on entire functions.

He collaborated for many years with G. H. Hardy, and together they devised the first Hardy-Littlewood conjecture, a strong form of the twin prime conjecture, and the second Hardy-Littlewood conjecture.

His collaborative work, carried out by correspondence, covered fields in Diophantine approximation and Waring's problem, in particular. In his other work Littlewood collaborated with Raymond Paley in Fourier theory, and with Offord in combinatorial work on random sums, in developments that opened up fields still intensively studied. Littlewood's inequality on bilinear forms was a forerunner of the later Grothendieck tensor norm theory.

He coined Littlewood's law, which states that individuals can expect miracles to happen to them, at the rate of about one per month.

He continued to write papers into his eighties, particularly in analytical areas of what would become the theory of dynamical systems.

See also: Littlewood's conjecture, Littlewood's three principles of real analysis, Littlewood-Offord problem.

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