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Ralph Philip Boas Jr., 1973-1974 MAA President

Born: August 8, 1912, Walla Walla, Washington
Died: July 25, 1992, Seattle, Washington

Ralph Philip Boas Jr. was a mathematics professor at Northwestern University and a journal editor.

Presidency: 1973-1974

At the annual meeting in 1974, Boas announced a new MAA publications series, the Dolciani Mathematical Expositions. Throughout his presidency, Boas published problems and articles in MAA publications.

Education and Career

1933 Harvard University, A.B.
1937 Harvard University, Ph.D.

Boas taught at Duke University (1939-42), the U.S. Navy Pre-Flight School in Chapel Hill (1942-43), Harvard University (1943-45), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1948-49). He became a professor of mathematics at Northwestern University in 1950 and chaired the department from 1957 to 1972. Northwestern now has a Boas Mathematics Library named for him.

Editors G.L. Alexanderson and D.H. Mugler collected some of Boas' best pieces of writing in Lion Hunting and Other Mathematical Pursuits: A Collection of Mathematics, Verse, and Stories by Ralph P. Boas, Jr. (1995).

Boas wrote a limerick about Tucker's work:

A.W. Tucker has found
Results both new and profound,
  But none that attract
  Me more than the fact
That degenerate cycles bound.

Boas' achievements include teaching, editorial work, and almost 200 papers on real and complex analysis. Boas chaired the Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics in 1968-70 and served on at least 25 different MAA committees over 20 years. He was editor of the American Mathematical Monthly (1977-80) and vice president (1959-60) and trustee (1966-70) of the American Mathematical Society. He won the MAA's Gung and Hu Distinguished Service to Mathematics Award in 1981.

External Resources

In Memoriam: Ralph P. Boas Jr. (1912-1992) (pdf)

More Mathematical People: Contemporary Conversations by Donald Albers, Gerald Alexanderson, Constance Reid

Gung and Hu Distinguished Service to Mathematics Award citation by Saunders MacLane; errata

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

"Ralph P. Boas, Former MAA President, Dies at Age 79," MAA FOCUS, Volume 12, Number 4, page 7