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John Macintosh Howie: Work and Legacy

Gomes, Gracinda M. S.; Ruskuc, Nik

Semigroup Forum, 89(1) (2014), 2-19

John M. Howie (1936–2011) was one of the founding fathers of semigroup theory as we know it today. His active research life spanned almost half a century. During this time he published around 80 research articles, on topics such as amalgamated products, transformation semigroups, generators, products of idempotents and others. Generations of future researchers in semigroup theory learned the basics of their trade from the two editions of John’s seminal monograph [56, 67]. John was a much loved and respected teacher, and his mastery is reflected in the undergraduate texts on automata [66], real analysis [68], complex analysis [69] and Galois theory [70]. John worked with a large number of collaborators, and supervised twelve Ph.D. students, including the present authors. In this article we will attempt to give the barest of sketches of John’s life and the main themes running through John’s research work, and to indicate how it has shaped research in semigroups to the present day.