Sir Thomas MacFarland (Tom) Cherry F.A.A., F.R.S. (21 May 1898 - 21 November 1966) was an Australian mathematician, serving as Professor of Mathematics (pure, mixed and applied) at the University of Melbourne from 1929 until his retirement in 1963.
Tom was born in the Melbourne suburb of Glen Iris on 21 May 1898 and was educated at Scotch College where in 1914 he was dux, winning exhibitions in algebra, physics and chemistry in the public exams. He proceeded to Ormond College at the University of Melbourne where he studied mathematics, winning prizes and scholarships. After graduating, he enlisted in the A.I.F. in July 1918 and was posted to the Australian Flying Corps. Discharged in December 1918, he decided to commence studying medicine in 1919. However, his godfather Sir John MacFarland, a distinguished mathematician, physicist and the first master of Ormond College since 1881, offered him financial assistance to continue to study mathematics at Cambridge.
Cherry spent the next decade in Britain, first at Trinity College where he was elected a Fellow (1924), then substituting for Professor Edward Arthur Milne at Manchester (1924-1925), and Professor Sir Charles Galton Darwin at Edinburgh (1927).
He returned to Australia in 1929 to the chair of "pure and mixed mathematics" at the University of Melbourne. During the Second World War he worked on research into radar, explosives and operations research. In 1952 he reluctantly assumed the chair of applied mathematics, and from 1950 until his retirement in 1963 and death in 1966, his work in the advancement of the teaching of mathematics at all levels was acknowledged and rewarded by many prestigious bodies.
He was knighted in 1965.
Cherry was a keen mountaineer, and was heavily involved in the Boy Scouts movement. While commissioner of Boy Scouts for Cambridge in 1924, he met Olive Ellen Wright, a Girl Guide commissioner. In 1931 he returned to England and married her on 24 January 1931 at Holy Trinity parish church in Cambridge.