Tony Gardiner (1947 – 2024)

Tony Gardiner died suddenly on 22 January 2024. He will be remembered as a national treasure, a man who made a unique contribution to the development of mathematics education in this country and internationally.

Tony set up, and made significant contributions to the work of, the UK Mathematics Trust, which runs problem-solving challenges taken by over half a million students every year. Tony was the Team Leader of the British IMO team in 1990–95 – and a mentor of many bright young mathematicians who are now the crème de la crème of British academia. For many years, he edited the Problem Solving Journal for Secondary Students, with a circulation over 5,000. He wrote and published more than 15 books on mathematical thinking and mathematical problem solving – as well as on teaching mathematics. He was consulted by several UK Ministers of State for Education, and acted as an advisor on mathematics education to the government of Singapore. More can be said about Tony’s contribution to this world, but there is no need to compete with Wikipedia where the article devoted to him,, is being feverishly updated.

Tony started his work in mathematics in the 1970s. He was a PhD student of the legendary Bernd Fischer, who had just discovered his three sporadic finite simple groups. It was a very fruitful time, when group theoretic ideas were becoming widely applied in combinatorics. Tony’s further research was very successful and mostly straddled the two areas of combinatorics and permutation groups.

At the same time Tony started to forge an unusual path in combining research in mathematics with a commitment to high school and undergraduate mathematics. His instinct as a researcher led him to investigate the actual working of mathematics education as a system and look at the entire cycle of reproduction of mathematics: from preschool and primary school through all stages of school education to university to teacher training and then back to school as a teacher. This is also augmented by a smaller cycle: BSc – PhD studies and postdoctoral research, then back to university as a lecturer. This breadth of vision was supplemented by his attention to the socio-economic and political background of education and placed him in a very special position among British mathematics educationalists.

Tony had exceptional academic and intellectual integrity. He was very modest. And, above all – he was a very kind man always helping a talented student or a bright school child who needed help, and did so right up to the last days of his life.