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.

  1. 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.

  2. Thomas 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.

  3. 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 century.

  4. Ormsby 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.

  5. 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 magnetism.

  6. 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 trigonometry.

  7. Robert W. McFarland,1825-1910.
    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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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 college.

  10. 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.

  11. 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.

  12. Ormond Stone, 1847-1933.
    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.

  13. 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.

  14. Ellen 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.

  15. 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 Pythagorean theorem.

  16. R. 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.

  17. 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 mathematical philosophy.

  18. 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.

  19. 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 death.

  20. 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.

  21. William 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.

  22. Theodore 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 President (1916-17).

  23. Samuel Rasor, 1873-1950.
    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.

  24. 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.

  25. Grace Bareis, 1875-1962.
    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.

  26. 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.

  27. 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 analysis.

  28. 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 1941-42.

  29. Otto 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.

  30. J. 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.

  31. H. C. Christofferson, 1894-1973.
    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.

  32. 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.

  33. Tibor Radó, 1895-1965
    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.

  34. George R. Stibitz, 1904-1995
    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.

  35. Henry Mann, 1905-2000.
    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.

  36. Eugene Lukacs, 1906-1987.
    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.

  37. Arnold 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.

  38. 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.

  39. Foster 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.

  40. Marshall Hall, 1910-1990.
    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 classics.

  41. 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.

  42. Hans Zassenhaus, 1912-1991.
    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.

  43. 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.

  44. Herbert Ryser, 1923-1985.
    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 combinatorics.

  45. James 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.

Other Histories.

Organized by David Kullman (kullmade@miamioh.edu), Miami University, and Thomas Hern (hern@wcnet.org), Bowling Green.

Last changed March 31, 2015.

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