THE AMERICAN MATHEMATICAL MONTHLY, FOUNDED IN 1894 BY BENJAMIN F. FINKEL, WAS VOLUME XXXII 1925 PUBLISHED BY THE ASSOCIATION LANCASTER, PA., AND ANN ARBOR, MICH. MATHEMATICAL MONTHLY BENJAMIN PEIRCE. I. REMINISCENCES OF PEIRCE. LIBRARY By President Emeritus CHARLES W. ELIOT,' Harvard University. Benjamin Peirce graduated at Harvard College with the degree of A.B. in 1829. Two years later he was appointed Tutor and in 1833 University Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy. This was an unendowed professorship; and its creation was one of President Quincy's enterprising adventures in the enlargement of Harvard's teaching staff. The President was doubtless 1 The authors of the "Reminiscences" of Benjamin Peirce, presented herewith, were all his former students and each has done something notable in mathematics. President Emeritus ELIOT was a student during 1849-53. He was a tutor of mathematics in Harvard College 1854-58, and assistant professor of mathematics 1858-61; he was also assistant professor of chemistry 1858-63. James Mills Peirce, son of Benjamin, and classmate of Eliot, was appointed tutor of mathematics at the same time. In his Analytic Geometry, published in 1857, Tutor Peirce acknowledged that "whatever merit the book may have is owing, in a great degree, to the assistance of Mr. C. W. Eliot." President Eliot has described these early years as follows (Report of the Harvard Class of 1853, Cambridge, 1913, p. 98): "Tutor Peirce chose the Freshman class, leaving me the Sophomore class in that year [1854-55]. After a year's experience, we applied some new recitation-room methods which made the mathematical instruction more effective. Finding the existing method of conducting oral examinations twice a year in the presence of visiting committees of the Board of Overseers very unsatisfactory as a test of the students' knowledge and capacity, we asked leave of the Faculty to conduct the mathematical examinations of the Freshmen and Sophomores in writing. After a good deal of hesitation the Faculty granted us leave to make the experiment; and these examinations were the first examinations in writing ever conducted for entire classes in Harvard College. The innovation was gradually adopted in other departments, and ultimately spread to the whole University. "I tried to make the teaching of mathematics to the Freshmen and Sophomores as concrete as possible, and to illustrate its principles with practical applications. For example, while the class was studying trigonometry, I taught simple surveying to a group of volunteers, and with their help made a survey of the streets and open spaces of that part of Cambridge which lies within a mile and a half of University Hall. These volunteers made under my direction a careful map of what was then the College Yard, with every building, path, and tree delineated thereon-a map which is preserved in the college library." President LOWELL was a student under Peirce 1873-77, and his paper on "Surfaces of the second order as treated by quaternions," read before the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, was published in its Proceedings (vol. 13, 1878, pp. 222–250). Professor BYERLY was a student under Peirce 1867-71. He was assistant professor of mathematics at Cornell University 1873-76; assistant professor of mathematics at Harvard College 1876-81; professor 1881-1906; Perkins professor of mathematics 1906-1913. Since 1913 he has been Perkins professor emeritus. He was the first one (in 1873) to receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, in mathematics, at Harvard University; his thesis was entitled "The heat of the sun." He is the author of mathematical articles, pamphlets, and textbooks. Chancellor CHACE studied with Peirce in 1878-79, and his paper on "A certain class of cubic surfaces treated by quaternions," published in the American Journal of Mathematics (vol. 2, 1879, pp. 315–323), was a result. The Chancellor has recently prepared a translation, with commentary and notes, of the Rhind mathematical papyrus, which is about to be sent to the press. R. C. ARCHIBALD. |