The international Symposium on algebraic topology which was held in Manchester in July 1990 was originally conceived as a tribute to Frank Adams by mathematicians in many countries who admired and had been influenced by his work and leadership. Preparations for the meeting, including invitations to the principal speakers, were already well advanced at the time of his tragic death in a car accident on 7 January 1989, at the age of 58 and still at the height of his powers.
Those members of the Symposium, and readers of these volumes, who had the good fortune to know Frank as a colleague, teacher and friend will need no introduction here to the qualities of his intellect and personality. Others are referred to loan James's article, published as Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 36, 1990, pages 3–16, and to the Memorial Address and the Reminiscences written by Peter May and published in The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol. 12, no. 1, 1990, pages 40–44 and 45–48.
We, the editors of these proceedings, were both research students of Frank's during his years at Manchester, As might be imagined, this was a remarkable and unforgettable experience. There was inspiration in plenty, and, on occasion, humble pie to be eaten as well. The latter became palatable as we learned to appreciate that the vigour of Frank's responses was never directed at us as individuals, but rather towards the defence of mathematics.