Prof John Webb

Professor of Mathematics

Degrees: B.Sc.(Hons) (Cape Town); Ph.D. (Cantab.)

  1. Distinguished Teacher Award (UCT, 1984)
  2. Paul Erdös Award (awarded by the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions, 1992), for his significant contribution in developing a viable mathematics competition scene in South Africa.
  3. Championship in the Teaching of Mathematics Award (Claude Harris Leon Foundation, 1997)
  4. Award for the Advancement of Mathematics (South African Mathematical Society, 2000)

Teaching and research interests:
Mathematical olympiads; PAMO and IMO; Multiple-choice testing; Mathematical paradoxes

Postgraduate theses supervised:
J. Camilleri: Aspects of compactness in convex spaces. M.Sc. 1969.
S.J. Sarembock: Norm-determining subspaces. M.Sc. 1969.
G.F. Diss: The strict topology: theory, generalizations and applications. M.Sc. 1972.
E. Martens: Countable inductive limits. M.Sc. 1972.
J.R. Nichol: Ascent, descent, nullity and defect of linear operators. M.Sc. 1974.
T.A. Marsh: The theory and some applications of Ptak's method of nondiscrete mathematical induction. M.Sc. 1977.
M.H. Burton: Stability of barrelled topologies. M.Sc. 1983.
L.C. Slammert: Bornological locally convex spaces. M.Sc. 1984.
N.R.C. Robertson: Generalized DFspaces. M.Sc. 1984.
N.R.C. Robertson: Separability and metrisability in locally convex spaces. Ph.D. 1991.
D.J. Tucker: An analysis of gender related differences in performance and attitudes of participants in the 1997 UCT Mathematics Competition. M.Sc. 1998.
C. Harris: Errors in South African secondary school mathematics textbooks. M.Sc. 1998.
L. Bowie: A learning theory approach to students' misconceptions in calculus. M.Sc. 1998.
T. Craig: Factors affecting students' perception of difficulty in calculus word problems. M.Sc. 2001.
T. Craig: Promoting Understanding in Mathematical Problem-Solving through Writing: A Piagetian Analysis. Ph.D. 2007 (co-supervisor)

Representative publications:

One equals zero, and other mathematical surprises, by John Webb and Nitsa Movshovitz-Hadar, pp xvi+168, Key Curriculum Press, 1998.
New edition, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, April 2013.
Chapter in book:
A straight line is the shortest distance between two points, in The changing face of geometry, edited by Chris Pritchard. Cambridge University Press, 2003.

What is a proof for?, S. Afr. J. Higher Educ. 3 (1989), 139-143.
Mathematical competitions and the mathematician, S. Afr. J. Sci. 85 (1989), 162-163.
Polyhedra and Pell, Int. J. Math. Educ. Sci. Tech. 21(5) (1990), 797-800.
The popularization of science and mathematics, Spectrum 28(2) (1990) 51-54.
The search for mathematical talent in South Africa, Math. Competitions 6(1) (1993) 17-19.
The South African Mathematical Talent Search, Agate 10(1)1996, 19-20.
The tenth Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad, Mathematics Competitions, 13(1)2000, 80-89.
The mathematics of the calendar. Spectrum 37(1) (2000) 34-43.
The Euler tiling formula. Int. J. Math. Educ. Sci. Tech. 32(5) (2001) 782-788.
Mathematical excellence in Iran, Notices S.A. Math. Soc. 33(2), 2002, 154-158.
South Africa and the International Mathematical Olympiad, AMESA News 28 (2003), 6-7,9.
Writing for television: Kato's conjecture, ketchup and earthquakes, Learning and Teaching Mathematics 5, 2007, 19-20.

Online publications:

Have we caught your interest?
Right angle race
Death and statistics.
In perfect harmony
The solitaire advance.
Magic sums and products.
The Codabar check.
Proofs with pictures
Sperner's lemma.
Mathematical surprises.
IMECT2 report on the MOTIVATE project.Click here for another site for the report.
South Africa and the Pan African and International Mathematical Olympiads.
Feminist numerology.

Extra-mural courses at the University of Cape Town

The New Maths and Beyond (Summer School 1969 two lectures)
Vector Algebra and Geometry (April - June 1975 ten lectures)
The Development of Elementary Mathematics (Summer School 1978 five lectures)
Excursions in Mathematics (April - June 1979 ten lectures)
Mathematics on Vacation (Summer School 1987 five lectures)
Midsummer Maths (Summer School 1991 five lectures)
Mathematical Fun and Games (Summer School 1996 - five lectures)
A Mathematical Delicatessen (Summer School 1999 - five lectures)
Mathematical Rambles (Summer School 2010 - three lectures)
QI Maths (Summer School 2012 - three lectures)

Other Activities:

Editor, Mathematical Digest (1971-present date)
Director, UCT Mathematical Competition(1987-present date)
Secretary, International Mathematical Olympiad Advisory Board (2000-2012)
Member, International Mathematical Olympiad Advisory Board (2012-present date)
Local Organizer, International Mathematical Olympiad (Cape Town, July 2014)