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Dr Christopher Hollings

Clifford Norton Senior Research Fellow in the History of Mathematics

College Lecturer in Mathematics


I was both an undergraduate and a postgraduate student at the University of York, where I obtained an MMath and a PhD. Upon completion of the latter, I went to Portugal to take up a two-year research post at the Centro de Álgebra da Universidade de Lisboa. A further brief research position followed at the University of Manchester, after which I moved to Oxford in early 2010. Since then, I have held a range of different college and departmental positions within Oxford (including the Clifford Norton Studentship at Queen's, 2011-2013). I returned to Queen's in October 2015.


My teaching in Queen's covers first- and second-year analysis, from sequences and series, through to metric spaces and complex analysis. In the Mathematical Institute, where I am Departmental Lecturer in Mathematics and its History, I am responsible for the third-year course on the history of mathematics.


My background is in mathematics, and I began my research career with problems in abstract algebra. However, I have since moved over into the history of mathematics, where I research a range of topics from the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. My interests include the development of abstract algebra, the growth of Soviet mathematics, and issues connected with scientific communication (in particular, the communications difficulties experienced by mathematicians, or scientists more generally, on opposite sides of the Iron Curtain during the Cold War).



Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist (with Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice), Bodleian Library Publishing, 2018.

Wagner's Theory of Generalised Heaps (as translator and editor, with Mark V. Lawson), Springer, 2017.

Scientific communication across the Iron Curtain, to be published by Springer.

Mathematics across the Iron Curtain: a history of the algebraic theory of semigroups, History of Mathematics, volume 41, American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI, 2014.

Journal articles

The Lovelace–De Morgan mathematical correspondence: a critical re-appraisal (with Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice), Historia Mathematica 44(3) (2017), 202–231.

“Nobody could possibly misunderstand what a group is”: a study in early twentieth-century group axiomatics, Archive for History of Exact Sciences 71(5) (2017), 409–481.

The early mathematical education of Ada Lovelace (with Ursula Martin and Adrian Rice), BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics 32(3) (2017), 221–234.

A tale of mathematical myth-making: E. T. Bell and the 'arithmetization of algebra', BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, to appear.

Three approaches to inverse semigroups, European Journal of Pure and Applied Mathematics (8) 2015, 294–323

The acceptance of abstract algebra in the USSR, as viewed through periodic surveys of the progress of Soviet mathematical science, Historia Mathematica (42) 2015, 193–222

Embedding semigroups in groups: not as simple as it might seem, Archive for History of Exact Sciences (68) 2014, 641–692

Investigating a claim for Russian priority in the abstract definition of a ring, BSHM Bulletin: Journal of the British Society for the History of Mathematics (29) 2014, 111–119

The struggle against idealism: Soviet ideology and mathematics, Notices of the American Mathematical Society (60) 2013, 1448–1458