Ohio Masters of Mathematics
This collection of biographical sketches, which originated as part
of Ohio's Bicentennial celebration, is sponsored by the Ohio Section
of the Mathematical Association of America. It is designed to foster
public understanding, education, and appreciation of mathematics as
a human endeavor and Ohio's contributions to that enterprise.
Click on each name for biographical article. Listed in
order of date of birth.
- Jared Mansfield, 1759-1830.
A graduate of Yale, he came to Ohio as Surveyor General in 1803,
the year that Ohio became a state. Starting with a principal
meridian that marked the boundary of Ohio and Indiana, he set up
coordinates for a system of townships and sections that would
eventually spread across the nation. He later served as
Professor of Natural Philosophy at the US Military Academy at
West Point from 1814 to 1828.
J. Matthews, 1788-1852.
Professor of Mathematics at Miami University from 1845-1852.
Earlier he taught at Transylvania University in Kentucky and
Woodward High School in Cincinnati. He was the first president
of the Western Literary Institute and College of Professional
Teachers, and he is known for his work in surveying the
"Matthews Line" between Kentucky and Tennessee and for other
civil engineering projects.
- Joseph Ray, 1807-1855.
Professor of mathematics at Woodward College in Cincinnati and
later principal of Woodward High School. He also served a term
as President of the Ohio State Teachers Association. Ray is best
known as the author of one of the most popular series of
American arithmetic and algebra textbooks of the nineteenth
McKnight Mitchel, 1810-1862.
Grew up in Lebanon, Ohio and graduated from West Point in 1829.
In 1835 he accepted a position as professor of mathematics,
natural philosophy, and astronomy at the newly revived
Cincinnati College. He became the principal founder of the
Cincinnati Astronomical Society in 1842 and embarked on a trip
to Germany where he procured a telescope with a lens nearly a
foot in diameter. Construction of the Cincinnati Observatory on
Mount Adams began in 1843 with John Quincy Adams delivering an
oration at the laying of the cornerstone. Mitchel supervised its
construction and served as its director until 1860. He served as
a Union officer in the Civil War and died of yellow fever while
on duty in South Carolina.
- Elias Loomis, 1811-1889.
A prominent astronomer and author of mathematics textbooks who
is also known for his meteorological researches and interest in
genealogy. Loomis was associated with Western Reserve College in
Ohio from 1837-1844, where he supervised construction of the
third college observatory in the United States and collected
observations in astronomy, meteorology, and terrestrial
- Eli T. Tappan, 1824-1888
The son of federal judge and U.S. senator Benjamin Tappan. At
age 33 he began a new career in mathematics and education,
serving as a mathematics teacher in Steubenville and Cincinnati,
professor of mathematics at Ohio University, and president of
Kenyon College. He was the author of textbooks on geometry and
Born in Champaign County, he earned A. B. and A. M degrees from
Ohio Wesleyan University. In 1853 he was appointed Professor of
Mathematics at Madison
College, and then in 1856 at Miami University, Ohio.
During the Civil War, McFarland served in the Union Army, rising
to the rank of lieutenant colonel. In 1873 he was appointed as
the first Professor of Mathematics and Civil Engineering at the
newly opened Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College (now Ohio
State University). In 1885 he returned to Miami, to serve as
president for three years.
- Edward Olney, 1827-1887.
Grew up in Wood County, Ohio, and taught mathematics in
Perrysburg before being appointed professor of mathematics at
Kalamazoo College (1853) and the University of Michigan (1863).
He was known as a tough, but fair teacher and the author of a
popular series of mathematics textbooks.
- Aaron Schuyler, 1828-1913.
Grew up in Seneca County, Ohio. After serving as principal of
Seneca County Academy for twelve years, he was elected professor
of mathematics and philosophy at Baldwin University (now
Baldwin-Wallace College) in Berea and later became president of
that institution. In the 1870's he published a series of college
mathematics textbooks. He left Ohio to teach at Kansas Wesleyan
University in 1885. Schuyler's able assistant, Ellen H. Warner, may have
been the first female professor of mathematics at an American
- E. W. Hyde, 1843-1930.
Educated at Cornell University as a civil engineer, he came to
the University of Cincinnati in 1875. There he served as
Professor of Mathematics, Dean of the College of Liberal Arts,
and President before being forced out in an academic bloodbath
in 1900. He was an associate editor of the Annals of
Mathematics, and he published books on advanced subjects
when America was still a mathematical backwater.
- E. B. Seitz, 1846-1883.
Seitz was also born in Fairfield County, Ohio (see Finkel). He was mainly self-taught in
mathematics mastering Ray's texts.
He spent one year of general academic study at Ohio Wesleyan in
1870. A prodigious problem solver, he is the 5th American
elected to the London Mathematical Society.
Director of the Cincinnati Observatory from 1875-1882, where he
influenced E. H. Moore to study mathematics, and where he was
the first to establish standard time for an American city. As
Professor of Astronomy and Mathematics at the University of
Virginia, he founded the Annals of
Mathematics in 1884.
- William Hoover, 1850-1938.
Born in Wayne County, he attended both Wittenberg and Oberlin
colleges. After teaching high school in Bellefontaine,
Wapakoneta, and Dayton, Ohio, and South Bend, Indiana, he was
elected professor of mathematics and astronomy at Ohio
University in 1883. He attended the first meeting of the MAA
Ohio Section, and he contributed problems and solutions to the
American Mathematical Monthly for over 40 years.
Amanda Hayes, 1851-1930.
Born in Granville, Ohio, and graduated from Oberlin College in
1878. Taught mathematics at Wellesley College from 1879 to 1916
and was appointed head of the mathematics department in 1888.
Writer of several textbooks and in 1891 was elected a member of
the New York Mathematical Society (later to become the American
Mathematical Society), one of the first six women to join.
- Elisha S. Loomis, 1852-1940.
Born in Medina County, Ohio, and a graduate of Baldwin
University (now Baldwin-Wallace College). Taught mathematics in
Ohio at all levels, from the primary grades through college.
Known for his compendium of more than 250 proofs of the
D. Bohannan, 1855-1926.
Appointed professor of mathematics and astronomy at The Ohio
State University in 1887. He published a number of papers on
classical and algebraic geometry and complex function theory. He
helped to organize of the foundational meeting of the
Mathematical Association of America and served as chairman of
the Ohio Section in 1925-26.
- C. J. Keyser, 1862-1947.
Born in Rawson, Ohio, and educated at the North West Ohio Normal
School (now Ohio Northern University). After holding several
school positions in Ohio, Missouri, and New York, he eventually
earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1901,
and spent the rest of his professional career at that
institution. He is best known for his writings in the area of
- E.H. Moore, 1862-1932
Born in Marietta, Ohio and graduated from Woodward High School
in Cincinnati in 1879. He was a pioneer in the American
mathematical research community, and he founded the mathematics
department at the University of Chicago and served as its head
from 1896-1931. He was President of the American Mathematical
Society and editor of the Transactions of the AMS.
- Benjamin Finkel, 1865-1947.
Founded The American Mathematical Monthly in 1894, which
led to the founding of the Mathematical Association of America
in Columbus in 1915. He was born in Fairfield County and
received his B.S. and M.S. degrees from Ohio Normal University
in Ada (now named Ohio Northern University, after Finkel's
suggestion). He was professor of mathematics and physics at
Drury College in Springfield, Missouri, from 1895 until his
- Harris Hancock, 1867-1944.
A native of Virginia, Hancock obtained a Berlin Ph.D. in 1894
for a thesis on elliptic functions. He taught at the University
of Chicago, where E. H. Moore was department head, until he was
appointed Professor at the University of Cincinnati in 1900. A
strong proponent of classical education, Hancock was influential
in the establishment of Walnut Hills High School in 1920. He
attended the First Annual Meeting of the MAA Ohio Section in
1916 and served as Section Chairman in 1924-25.
D. Cairns, 1871-1955.
Born in Troy, Ohio, Cairns graduated in 1892 from Ohio Wesleyan
and earned an A.M. in 1898 from Harvard University. In 1907 he
received a Ph.D. degree in mathematics from the University of
Gottingen, where he studied under David Hilbert. Cairns was MAA
Secretary-Trasurer from the founding of the MAA in 1915 until
1942. After serving as MAA President in 1943-44, he was made
honorary president for life. He taught at Oberlin College from
1899 until retirement in 1939.
M. Focke , 1871-1949.
Theodore M. Focke was born in Massillon, Ohio. After graduating
from Case Institute of Technology in civil engineering in 1892,
he was immediately appointed as an instructor in mathematics at
an annual salary of $600. He earned a doctorate at the
University of Göttingen in 1898 and returned to Case, where he
became the Kerr Professor and head of the department until his
retirement in 1943. He served as the second Ohio Section
A native of Ohio, he received his B.S. from Ohio State in 1898
and his M.A. degree in 1902. He then embarked on a career of
teaching and service at OSU that would last for nearly fifty
years. Rasor was the author of several mathematical papers and
three textbooks. He was chairman of the local organizing
committee for the foundational meeting of the Mathematical
Association of America in December 1915, and he served as
chairman of the MAA Ohio Section in 1920-21.
- Charles M. Austin, 1874-1967.
A founder and first president of the National Council of
Teachers of Mathemtics. He was born near Waynesville, Ohio,
graduated from Ohio Wesleyan University, and taught at Milford
High School before moving to Oak Park, Illinois in 1912.
A charter member of the MAA and the Ohio Section. She received
her A.B. degree from Heidelberg College in Tiffin, Ohio, in
1897. In 1909 she became the first person to receive a Ph.D. in
mathematics from The Ohio State University, and she taught at
Ohio State until her retirement in 1946.
- C. N. Moore, 1882-1967.
A native Cincinnatian and graduate of Woodward High School. He
earned a Harvard Ph.D. in 1908 before joining the faculty of the
University of Cincinnati. He was highly regarded for his
research on convergence factors for infinite series. He attended
the first meeting of the MAA Ohio Section in 1916 and served as
Section Chairman in 1918-19.
- Otto Szász, 1884-1952.
A native of Hungary, he came to the United States in 1933 and
taught at the University of Cincinnati from 1936-1952, where he
was recognized as an important figure in the field of classical
- Louis Brand, 1885-1971.
A native of Cincinnati. He received three engineering degrees
from the University of Cincinnati and a Ph.D. from Harvard. He
served on the faculty of his alma mater from 1907-1955 and was
well known for a series of popular textbooks on vector analysis
and mechanics. He was Chairman of the MAA Ohio Section in
Marcin Nikodym, 1887-1974.
A Polish mathematician, famous for the Radon-Nikodym Theoreom.
He was educated at the Universities of Lwow and Warsaw, and the
Sorbonne, taught at the Universities of Krakow and Warsaw and at
the High Polytechnical School in Krakow. He came to Ohio in 1948
to join the faculty of Kenyon College, retiring in 1966.
R. Overman, 1888-1978.
J. Robert Overman was the first faculty member hired at Bowling
Green State University, then called Bowling Green Normal
College, and served there for 42 years. He earned degrees in
mathematics from Indiana, Columbia, and a Ph D from Michigan. He
wrote a series of ten textbooks in school mathematics. He
establish many programs st BGSU, including the College of
Liberal Arts, serving as the first dean. He also served as the
first librarian and provost.
- H. C. Christofferson,
Professor of mathematics and director of secondary education at
Miami University from 1928 to 1961. He served as president of
the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1938-40) and
the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (1952-54). He was a
founder of the latter organization in 1950.
- I. A. Barnett, 1894-1974.
After earning three degrees at the University of Chicago and
serving on the faculties of Washington University, the
University of Saskatchewan, and Harvard, Barnett came to the
University of Cincinnati in 1923. Norbert Wiener credited him
for suggestiing a problem in the early 1920s that eventually led
him to the notion of Wiener measure and its application to
Brownian motion. Barnett served as MAA Ohio Section Chairman in
1933-34 and on the MAA Board of Governors in 1952.
One of the most prominent of the Hungarian mathematicians to
come to the US in the post-World War I period. He was appointed
professor at Ohio State in 1930 in conjunction with the
establishment of a graduate program in mathematics. He served as
chairman of the department in the postwar period and was named
research professor in 1948. He is known for his solution of
Plateau's problem in 1930.
- George R. Stibitz,
A 1926 Graduate of Denison University in applied mathematics,
Stibitz is recognized as the father of the modern digital
computer. He earned a Ph.D. in physics from Cornell in 1930, and
joined Bell Telephone Laboratories. From the study of the binary
circuits controlled by telephone relays, he built a binary adder
circuit and then a full-scale calculator in 1939. Several binary
computers of greater sophistication followed.
Born and educated in Vienna, Austria, and emigrated to the
United States in 1938. He was a member of the faculty at Ohio
State from 1946-1964. In 1946 he was awarded the Cole Prize in
Number Theory by the American Mathematical Society for his proof
of a conjecture of Schnirelmann and Landau. He authored 80
research papers and three books.
A native of Hungary, Lukacs emigrated to the United States
before the World War II. He taught at Our Lady of Cincinnati
College from 1945-1953 and later helped to found the doctoral
program in mathematics at Bowling Green State University. In
between he taught at Catholic University in Washington, DC,
where he founded the Statistics Laboratory. His monograph on
characteristic functions in probability theory was the first to
present a unified and detailed treatment of the subject.
E. Ross. 1907-2002.
Came to Ohio State as chair of the mathematics department in
1963, having filled that same post at the University of Notre
Dame. In 1957 he founded a summer program for talented high
school students, which he taught in and directed until age 94.
- A. J. Macintyre, 1908-1967.
A native of England, he became Research Professor of Mathematics
at the University of Cincinnati in 1959, and Charles Phelps Taft
Professor of Mathematics in 1963. Macintyre was married to a
fellow mathematician, Sheila
Scott, who died soon after arriving in Ohio.
L. Brooks, 1908-1998.
Foster Brooks was born on a farm near Carrollton, Ohio, and
attended a one- room school before entering Carrollton High
School. He earned an A.B. degree from Mt. Union College in 1929
and a Ph.D. from Ohio State University in 1934. In 1935 Dr.
Brooks joined the faculty of Kent State University, where he
taught mathematics, physics and photography until his retirement
in 1974. Brooks was on leave from Kent State during WWII,
working for the US Navy as part of a submarine operations
research group. In 1947 he was presented with a Presidential
Certificate of Merit “For Research Done During the War.” Brooks
served as Secretary-Treasurer of the Ohio Section for 25 years,
from 1947 until 1972.
A member of the faculty of The Ohio State University from
1946-1959. He authored more than 120 research papers on group
theory, coding theory, and design theory, and his highly
regarded books Theory of Groups and Combinatorial Theory are
- Kenneth B. Cummins, 1911-1998.
A high school mathematics teacher and professor of mathematics
at Kent State University. He was best known for his courses,
institutes, and lectures for mathematics teachers.
A native of Germany, he came to the United States in 1959 and
was invited to join the faculty at Ohio State by Arnold Ross in
1964. He worked on a broad range of topics in mathematics and
mathematical physics and was a world famous authority on groups
and Lie algebras.
- D, Ransom Whitney, 1915-2007.
Best known for the famous Mann-Whitney U Statistic, the most
widely used non-parametric statistic for two-sample tests. He
was born in East Cleveland and served for many years on the
faculty of The Ohio State University.
A native of Wisconsin, he earned three degrees from the
University of Wisconsin. In 1949 he was appointed assistant
professor at The Ohio State University and was promoted to the
rank of professor in 1955. He, along with Marshall Hall,
established Ohio State's tradition of excellence in
R.C. Leitzel, 1936-1998.
A member of The Ohio State University faculty from 1965-1990. He
served as Chairman of the MAA Ohio Section in 1984-85 and was
co-founder of the MAA's influential Project NExT (New
Experiences in Teaching), designed to nurture young mathematics
faculty and prepare them for the profession.
Organized by David Kullman (firstname.lastname@example.org),
Miami University, and Thomas Hern (email@example.com),
Last changed October 14, 2014.
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