Person: Johnson, Woolsey
Woolsey Johnson was an American text-book writer and one of the founders of the New York Mathematical Society.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Charles Johnson had graduated from Union College in 1823 and then attended the Litchfield Law School.
- This College was renamed Yale University in 1864, two years after Johnson graduated with a B.A. He was awarded first prize in mathematics in his first year of study and continued to excel winning the prize for mathematical solutions in his second year.
- After Johnson graduated, in 1862 he was appointed as an assistant in the Nautical Almanac office in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
- In 1870 Johnson moved to Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio.
- It had reopened in 1866, six years before Johnson took up his position there.
- Johnson began to collaborate with John Minot Rice, a professor of mathematics in the United States Navy and, in 1874, they produced the First Part of their work An Elementary Treatise on the Differential Calculus founded on the Method of Rates or Fluxions.
- Clearly with Johnson in Annapolis where he had previously worked with the U.S. Naval Academy, he could continue to keep his links with the Academy despite teaching at St John's College.
- We promised above to give some more details of Johnson's sons.
- Charles William Leverett Johnson (1870-1954) was awarded a B.A. from Johns Hopkins University in 1891 and then continued to study there for a Ph.D. He was awarded his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins in 1896 for his thesis Musical Pitch and the Measurement of Intervals Among the Ancient Greeks.
- Charles Johnson became an Instructor in Greek at Yale University publishing his thesis and the book The motion of the voice: In the theory of ancient music (1899).
- Johnson's younger son, Theodore Woolsey Johnson (1872-1953), was as he said in the above quote, more in his own line.
- Johnson was one of the founders of New York Mathematical Society in 1888.
- The New York Mathematical Society became the American Mathematical Society in 1894 and Johnson served on the AMS Council.
- Let us say a little more about Johnson's mathematics.
- The reader will see from these Prefaces that Johnson's approach was somewhat old-fashioned for the time in which he wrote but, of course, we must remember that basically he was writing to teach mathematics to U.S. Navy cadets.
- We must not be understood as implying that Professor Johnson's book may not be of considerable utility.
- Professor Johnson is professor of mathematics at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, and it may be that some will trace in the book methods which are said to be characteristic of the United States Army and Navy mathematics; but it must be said that the plan pursued is likely to lead to a clearer understanding by the student.
- The object is to give a knowledge of the subject, so far as it is likely to have practical application; and in this it is safe to say that Professor Johnson has succeeded.
- When The Analyst ceased publication and was replaced by the Annals of Mathematics, Johnson continued to publish there with papers such as: James Glaisher's factor tables and the distribution of primes (1884); The kinematical method of tangents (1885); On Singular Solutions of Differential Equations of the First Order (1887); On singular solutions of differential equations of the first order (1887); On the differential equation (1887); On Monge's solution of the non-integrable equation between three variables (1888); and On Gauss's method of substitution (1892).
- Johnson also published in the American Journal of Mathematics.
- His 1879 paper with William Story Notes on the "15" Puzzle is in two parts, the first by Johnson shows that the 15 puzzle is impossible using the odd/even permutation argument.
- Another of Johnson's papers in this journal is The Strophoids (1880).
- Johnson also published several papers in the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society.
- In 1913 Johnson was given a commissioned rank in the Navy, by a special act of Congress, and when he retired in 1921 he had the rank of Commodore.
Born 23 June 1841, Owego, Tioga County, New York,USA. Died 14 May 1927, Baltimore, Maryland, USA.
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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