Farewell to Adam McBride

Friday 30 September was the last day of employment at the University of Prof. Adam C. McBride, OBE. Throughout his academic career, in addition to important contributions to fractional calculus, special functions, integral transforms, and semigroup theory, he has been an inspirational teacher to generations of Strathclyde students and far beyond, motivating and amusing high school pupils and teachers alike, in Scotland and down south.  He has done a lot for the UK’s success at the International Mathematical Olympiads, and of course the wonderful November trips to the Burn will never be the same without his leadership (although we understand he may be tempted to come along as a participant…)

I would like to give you a puzzle he’s often presented to warm up the audience at the Burn.

Suppose you have a three digit number which is not a palindrome. Turn it around. So if you started with 723, now you have 327. Subtract the smaller number from the larger one. Call the result x. Turn it around. Call the new number y. Now add x and y. If your result is anything but 1089, you cannot add or subtract or both (Adam would never have said that!), but if you do obtain 1089, explain why.

DoF wishes Adam a long, healthy, productive, and enjoyable retirement!


If anyone wants to share any other anecdotes or mathematical trivia from Adam’s career at Strathclyde, please use the comments below (but bear in mind that Adam can read this blog too!)

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4 Responses to Farewell to Adam McBride

  1. David says:

    Adam was Head of Department when I started as a lecturer. Like most new teachers, I was unnecessarily anxious about keeping order in class. (That was a while ago.) I remember nervously asking one of my colleagues “what do I do if a student plays up?” “That’s easy”, he replied. “Send them straight along to Adam and he’ll bounce them off the walls a few times.”

    Naturally, I came to realise that Adam’s personality is such that under no circumstances would he ever have to resort to force — and that that, in fact, is the trick — but for those first few months it made a big difference having the thought of him looming behind me. Inspiration no doubt comes in far more significant forms than this, but on behalf of all the new-cleckit teachers Adam’s influenced: thank you!

  2. Nigel says:

    It’s true that Adam’s enthusiasm, intellect and good nature have been a huge influence on the mathematics community (in the Department, in schools around Scotland, in the rarefied world of the Olympiad and in the even more rarefied world of fractional calculus) over the years, but surely his skills as a crossword solver should be placed above all that…

    “Messed up a prim, combed beard of a mathematician (4, 4, 7, 3)”


  3. Pingback: 1089 and all that | Degree of Freedom

  4. Chris Smith says:

    Adam is a legend. I’ll admit, that word is overused these days by a generation who celebrate mediocrity and infamy. Adam, however, is a true legend for a whole generation of Strathclyders like myself. Not only is Prof McB a talented Mathematician, a respected researcher, a skilled team leader, an award-winning OBE, an enthusiastic promoter of Maths and the ‘man who makes Maths sexy’ as the newspaper clipping on his office always reminded us…he is also a total gentleman. Adam has always had time for me when I needed it, takes a genuine interest in his students (in terms of their progress and personal life) and encourages me to keep going as I try and share Maths with the same passion and commitment that Adam has so faithfully done for decades. He deserves every tribute and accolade coming his way!

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