David Gibb

Born: 31 October 1883 in Methil, Fife, Scotland
Died: 28 March 1946 in Edinburgh, Scotland

David Gibb's father was Robert Gibb (born Scoonie, Fife about 1857) who was a salt manufacturer. His mother was Joanna Gibb (born Largo, Fife about 1855). David Gibb had younger siblings: Edith (born about 1881), William (born about 1886) and Annabella (born about 1890).

David Gibb's home was Bellavue, Innerleven, Methil, Fife. He attended Leven Public School from 1886 to 1896, then George Watson's College from 1896 to 1899. He sat the Leaving Certificate Examination, obtaining passes at Higher Grade in Mathematics, German, and English in June 1900. He also sat the University Preliminary Examination, passing Higher Latin in October 1900. He first matriculated at Edinburgh University in October 1900 giving his Edinburgh address as c/o H Flockhart, 3 West Preston Street.

In his first year of study at university, Gibb took courses in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy at the Ordinary level passing Mathematics with the excellent mark of 89% but finding Natural Philosophy somewhat harder with a pass at 57%. In his second year he studied Latin which he failed in April 1902, failed again in October 1904, but finally passed in October 1905. In 1902-03 he passed Chemistry and Education, then Logic and Metaphysics, and Rhetoric and English Literature in the following year. From October 1904 he studied Honour courses in Dynamics, Thermodynamics, Advanced Dynamics, Electrostatics, and Mathematics. He received an M.A. with First Class Honours in Mathematics and Natural Philosophy from the University of Edinburgh in July 1906, followed by a B.Sc. (Pure) from the same university in the following year.

Following his graduation, Gibb was a mathematics teacher in a school until Chrystal appointed him a Lecturer in Mathematics at the University of Edinburgh in 1909. During World War I he served on the Ballistic Department Ordnance Committee, Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, from 1914 to 1918. He was promoted to Reader in Mathematics at Edinburgh in 1934 and held this post until his death. Whittaker writes [2]:-

On the staff he had as colleagues a succession of brilliant men who, while they did much for the reputation of the Edinburgh Mathematical Department, and now occupy chairs in other universities, were in many cases not well acquainted with Scottish educational matters: and the duty of acting as director of studies and generally as liaison officer between the University and the Scottish schools fell chiefly on Mr Gibb, who discharged it admirably.
Gibb was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh on 24 January 1910 having been proposed by George Chrystal, Sir Frank Watson Dyson, Cargill Gilston Knott, and Ellice M Horsburgh.

Gibb joined the Edinburgh Mathematical Society in December 1910. He served on the Library Committee in 1910 -15 and again 1917-19, vice-President 1919-1920, the President in session 1920-21. From 1921 he served on the Committee to 1923 when he was made honorary librarian. He continued to undertake these duties until after 1932. He submitted papers to the Society such as On Integral Relations connected with the Confluent Hypergeometric Function which he read to the meeting on Friday 11 February 1916.

His obituary in the Edinburgh Mathematical Notes is at THIS LINK.

His obituary in The Scotsman is at THIS LINK.

Article by: J J O'Connor and E F Robertson

November 2007
MacTutor History of Mathematics