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Dr. Robin Chapman

Robin Chapman obituary

Dr. Robin Chapman died unexpectedly on 18th October 2020.

Robin grew up in Swansea and read mathematics at Merton College, Oxford.  He then moved to Cambridge and took Part III of the Mathematical Tripos in 1985.  He remained in Cambridge to start a PhD with Martin Taylor, moving to Manchester when Taylor was appointed to a chair in UMIST.  Robin's thesis was entitled "Galois module theory in function fields".  He returned to Merton as a Junior Research Fellow, but after only one year he was appointed to a lectureship at the University of Exeter in 1989, where he remained for the rest of his career.

At the time of his death, he was the longest serving member of the Mathematics Department.  His published papers were mostly in number theory, particularly its more combinatorial aspects, but also included contributions to graph theory and coding theory.  He had a vast knowledge of mathematics, and had an amazing knack for problem-solving.  Indeed, he was known in some parts of the mathematical community for his frequent submission of solutions to posed problems in the American Mathematical Monthly. (There were even rumours that "Robin J. Chapman" was actually a problem-solving collective rather than an individual.) He was frequently consulted by colleagues stuck on problems in their own research, and could quickly suggest a reference or come up with a trick to solve their problems.  While at Exeter, he taught a wide range of mathematics modules, and was a very efficient examinations officer.

He also had several periods of secondment to the Heilbronn Institute in Bristol. 

Robin was a much esteemed colleague who will be sorely missed.  His untimely death is a great loss to the Mathematics Department at Exeter.

Date: 12 November 2020

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