“Much like the shade provided by a tree, so is a good teacher in society, and one such shade-providing tree in the world of mathematics for three decades is Prof Masood Khalique.”

These are the words of Prof Helen Drummond, deputy dean for teaching and learning, Faculty of Natural and Agricultural Sciences.


At the eleventh hour … After three decades Prof Masood Khalique is retiring at the end of 2020. “For me the three decades at the NWU passed very quickly and suddenly I realised that I have to retire now,” this NWU legend says.

Calculating maths expert’s contributions over 3 decades




Tracing his footsteps


Professor Masood Khalique’s early education was in Pakistan.


There he obtained his BSc degree from Punjab University in 1972 and his MSc and MPhil degrees in mathematics from Quaid-i-Azam University in 1974 and 1975, respectively.


He was awarded a Dundee University Fellowship and obtained his MSc and PhD degrees from the UK university in 1976 and 1979, respectively.


Masood is affiliated with the Royal Society of South Africa and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications in the UK. He is also a member of the Academy of Science of South Africa, London Mathematical Society, and the UK and South African chapters of the Mathematical Society.




Helen says Masood, who is retiring at the end of 2020, has served the subject group Mathematics and Applied Mathematics for many years, including a number of years as head of the subject group. “This has given us an anchor, particularly during times when there has been a very high turnover of staff.”


An enquiring mind


“He was one of our first National Research Foundation-rated scientists, and has been a mentor for many postgraduate students, postdoctoral fellows and junior academics,” says Helen.


“In addition, he has actively participated in supporting research processes in the faculty and we have all benefited from his wisdom.”


Boasting a C1 rating, his contributions to the development of research are significant in the areas of Lie symmetry analysis and conservation laws for differential equations.


Furthermore, he has made significant contributions to optical and plasma solitons and to the derivation of solutions and conservation laws for the Korteweg-de Vries and nonlinear Schrodinger equations. Masood has also worked on applications for soil water motion, non-Newtonian second and fourth grade fluids and astronomy.


He has published more than 220 research papers, mostly in these areas, and has derived new and relevant solutions to the Lane-Emden, the Emden-Fowler and the Boussinesq equations.


Casting a substantial shadow


Like a tall tree, his supervision of higher degree students casts a sizeable shadow.


In addition to overseeing a master’s programme of coursework and research, he ensures graduate students have a sound grounding in Lie group analysis.


Over the years he has supervised 19 MSc and eight PhD students to completion, published 52 research papers with his graduate students and mentored eight postdoctoral fellows.


Choosing to make a difference


“In 1986 I joined the former UNIBO which was one of the South Africa’s historically disadvantaged universities. I had several opportunities to join the relatively advantaged institutions, but I made a firm decision that I will stay here to teach and develop the disadvantaged students who came from an underprivileged community.


“I therefore had to discover a method to teach these students – and I guess I had been successful. My contribution to the field of mathematics as a scholar and a teacher to young minds has been my greatest calling,” says Masood.


This expert mathematician has made major contributions in his field over the past 33 years and his influence will be felt for many decades to come through his students.