born Nov. 11, 1904, Madras, India died May 8, 1960, Princeton, N.J., U.S. British mathematician who greatly influenced the development of homotopy theory (the theory of a special kind of mapping of topological spaces). As a Commonwealth research fellow (192932), Whitehead studied under the American mathematician Oswald Veblen at Princeton University. Their collaborative publications include The Foundations of Differential Geometry (1932), now regarded as a classic. Whitehead became tutorial fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1933, and, after serving with various government departments during World War II, he became Waynflete professor of pure mathematics at Oxford. Whitehead's work in differential geometry culminated in the paper On the Covering of a Complete Space by the Geodesics Through a Point (1935), containing pioneering contributions to this area of mathematics. He always retained his interest in geometry but soon focused on topology. He made substantial contributions to combinatorial homotopy and Stiefel manifolds and set up a school of topology at Oxford. He died while on sabbatical leave at the Institute for Advanced Study.

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