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Eric Temple Bell, 1931-1932 MAA President

Born: February 7, 1883, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
Died: December 21, 1960, Watsonville, California

Eric Temple Bell was a mathematics professor, mathematical historian, and writer.

Presidency: 1931-1932

As president, Bell published problems and reviews in the American Mathematical Monthly, and his books The Queen of the Sciences and Debunking Science were reviewed in the Monthly.

Education and Career

1902-1904 Stanford University, A.B.
1907-1908 University of Washington, A.M.
1911-1912 Columbia University, Ph.D.

Bell was an instructor and professor of mathematics at the University of Washington from 1912 to 1926 and a professor at the California Institute of Technology from 1926 to 1953.

Bell was honored with the 1924 American Mathematical Society (AMS) Bôcher Memorial Prize for a notable paper in analysis and gave an AMS Colloquium Lecture on algebraic arithmetic in 1927. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and served as vice president of the AMS and vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Bell numbers and Bell polynomials are named for Bell for the theory he developed in his 1934 papers "Exponential Numbers" and "Exponential Polynomials."

Bell wrote science fiction, poetry, and nonfiction, including books on mathematics and its history, most notably his classic Men of Mathematics: The Lives and Achievements of the Great Mathematicians from Zeno to Poincaré.

External Resources

MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive biography

"The Alternative Life of E.T. Bell"

The Search for E.T. Bell: Also Known as John Taine

Records of editors, presidents, and secretaries from MAA headquarters, E.T. Bell, 1931-1935 at the Archives of American Mathematics

Eric Temple Bell Papers, 1919-1955

The Mathematics Genealogy Project