1 - The work of J. F. Adams  pp. 1-28

The work of J. F. Adams

By J. P. May

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The Work of J. F. Adams

I first met Frank here in Manchester in 1964, when this building was being planned. I remember from the first feeling that he was a far more impressive man than the anecdotes of his exploits had led me to expect, and a far nicer one. I also felt humbled by the sheer amount of mathematics that he knew and perhaps more so by the amount that he somehow assumed I knew. I feel a little the same way now, faced with this audience and this topic. Still, I don't want to spend much time in reminiscence. I want rather to give a quick guided tour through Frank's work, largely letting it speak for itself.

I should say that Frank's collected works are to be published in the near future by the Cambridge University Press. Like this talk, the collected works are organized by subject matter rather than by strict chronology. However, I will begin not quite at the beginning of his work with a sequence of four papers submitted between 1955 and 1958. All dates cited are dates of submission, not necessarily of appearance.

The cobar construction, the Adams spectral sequence, higher order cohomology operations, and the Hopf invariant one problem

  • On the chain algebra of a loop space (1955, with Peter Hilton) [5]
  • On the cobar construction (1956) [6]