Isaac Albert Barnett

Born in London, England, Albert Barnett immigrated with his family to the United States in 1904. He earned three degrees at the University of Chicago, including a Ph.D. in 1918 for a dissertation on differential equations directed by Gilbert Bliss. He served on the faculty of Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Saskatchewan, and was a Benjamin Pierce Instructor at Harvard University in 1919-1920.

Norbert Wiener credits Barnett for suggesting to him in the early 1920s the problem that eventually led to his development of the Wiener measure and its application to Brownian motion [NW]. Barnett was also the driving force for bringing Otto Szász to the University of Cincinnati in 1936 (see [NW], [PM]). He wrote a manual "Trigonometry for Navy Men" during his government service in World War I, and two popular books on analytic geometry in the 1920s.

Barnett served as Program Chairman of the MAA Ohio Section, 1926-27, 1941-42, and 1949-50. He was the Section Chairman in 1933-34. He was elected to the Board of Governors of the Mathematical Association of America in 1952 and was a member of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies in 1958. Barnett served as Head of the Mathematics Department and founded a series of NSF funded institutes for the training of high school teachers beginning in 1961. In his later career he formed a particular affection for number theory and after his death the annual I.A. and Fannie R. Barnett Memorial Lecture in Number Theory was instituted.

Following his retirement from the University of Cincinnati, Barnett taught at Ohio University (where he directed a Ph.D. dissertation at age 77), Fairleigh Dickinson University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Books by I. A. Barnett

Plane Analytic Geometry, Wiley, New York, 1926.
Analytic Geometry, Wiley, New York, 1928.
Elements of Number Theory, Prindle, Weber and Schmidt, Boston, 1969.


[NW] N. Wiener, I am a Mathematician, MIT Press, Cambridge, 1956.

[PM] P. Masani, Norbert Wiener 1894-1964, Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel, 1990.

Article by Charles Groetsch
University of Cincinnati