Person: Ball (2), Robert Stawell
Walter Rouse Ball was an English mathematician best known for his popular books on the History of Mathematics and on Mathematical Recreations.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Walter Frederick Ball was a rents and dividends man, born at St George Hanover Square, Middlesex in about 1824.
- Rouse Ball attended University College School in London.
- When Rouse Ball studied there the school was within the buildings of University College.
- After studying at University College School and winning an Entrance Exhibition to University College, London, Rouse Ball entered the College in 1867.
- The professor of mathematics was Thomas Archer Hirst who had replaced Augustus De Morgan in the year that Rouse Ball began his studies.
- 2nd Wrangler, Ball of Trinity" - another big cheer, soon over though ...
- The day after the list of Wranglers was read, they received their M.A. degrees in ranked order with Calliphronas first, Rouse Ball second etc.
- Later in 1874, the year he sat the Tripos, Rouse Ball was first Smith's prizeman, and in the following year he was elected a fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.
- Two years ahead of Rouse Ball at Trinity College was Alfred Kempe who, after taking the Mathematical tripos, chose the law as a profession and was called to the bar in 1873.
- Rouse Ball decided to follow the same route as Kempe (and many others) and make a career in law.
- Having now sampled the academic profession and the legal profession, Rouse Ball had no doubts where his interests and abilities were telling him he should make his career.
- In 1878 Trinity College, Cambridge, invited Rouse Ball to return as a lecturer in mathematics and, two years later, he was appointed as an assistant tutor.
- Chapters on mechanical recreations, bees and their cells, and string figures were in Rouse Ball's original text but were omitted in Coxeter's revision.
- Ball also wrote The history of mathematics at Cambridge (1889), Elementary algebra (1890), An essay on Newton's "Principia" (1893), A Primer of the History of Mathematics (1895), Trinity College Cambridge (1906), Cambridge papers (1918), and An Introduction to String Figures.
- We also present short extracts from six of Rouse Ball's papers which are either on history or puzzles.
- Rouse Ball was also a keen chess player and, when he was young, played for the Cambridge graduates team in the matches against Oxford graduates.
- Again later in 1914, at Cambridge, the writer was shown through Trinity College with its fine Library, enjoyed hospitality at the dining hall, and was also invited to Elmside, Ball's home.
- At that time Ball was saddened by the news of the death of Cambridge students who had early entered the war, some of whom he had known intimately.
- Three years before his death he had established the Rouse Ball lectureship in mathematics at Cambridge with generous funding.
- In his will he set aside a sizable endowment to fund two professorships at Cambridge, the Rouse Ball professorship of English law and a Rouse Ball professorship of mathematics.
Born 14 August 1850, Hampstead, London, England. Died 4 April 1925, Elmside, Cambridge, England.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive