Carl Benjamin Boyer | |
---|---|

Born | |

Died | April 26, 1976 | (aged 69)

Nationality | United States |

Occupation | Historian of mathematics |

**Carl Benjamin Boyer** (November 3, 1906 – April 26, 1976) was an American historian of sciences, and especially mathematics. Novelist David Foster Wallace called him the "Gibbon of math history".^{[2]} It has been written that he was one of few historians of mathematics of his time to "keep open links with contemporary history of science."^{[3]}

## Life and career

Boyer was valedictorian of his high school class. He received a B.A. from Columbia College in 1928 and an M.A. in 1929. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Columbia University in 1939.^{[1]} He was a full professor of Mathematics at the City University of New York's Brooklyn College from 1952 until his death, although he had begun tutoring and teaching at Brooklyn College in 1928.^{[1]}

Along with Carolyn Eisele of CUNY's Hunter College; C. Doris Hellman of the Pratt Institute, and later CUNY's Queens College; and Lynn Thorndike of Columbia University, Boyer was instrumental in the 1953 founding of the Metropolitan New York Section of the History of Science Society.^{[4]}

In 1954, Boyer was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship to further his work in the history of science. In particular, the grant made reference to "the history of the theory of the rainbow".^{[5]}

Boyer wrote the books *The History of the Calculus and Its Conceptual Development* (1959),^{[6]} originally published as *The Concepts of the Calculus* (1939),^{[7]} *History of Analytic Geometry* (1956),^{[8]} *The Rainbow: From Myth to Mathematics* (1959),^{[9]} and *A History of Mathematics* (1968).^{[10]} He served as book-review editor of *Scripta Mathematica*.^{[11]}

Boyer died of a heart attack in New York City in 1976.

In 1978, Boyer's widow, the former Marjorie Duncan Nice, a professor of history,^{[12]} established the Carl B. Boyer Memorial Prize, to be awarded annually to a Columbia University undergraduate for the best essay on a scientific or mathematical topic.^{[13]}

## References

**Notes**

- ^
^{a}^{b}^{c}Dauben, Joseph Warren and Scriba, Christoph J. (2002)*Writing the history of mathematics: its historical development*, Birkhäuser. Cf. pp.380-381 for the biography of Boyer. **^**Wallace, David Foster. "An excerpt from*Everything and More*". Retrieved 2007-08-28.**^**Gray, Jeremy (2016) "Histories of Modern Mathematics in English in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s" in Remmert, Volker R.; Schneider, Martina; and Kragh Sørensen, Henrik (eds.)*Historiography of Mathematics in the 19th and 20th Centuries*Birkhäuser. p.161. ISBN 9783319396491**^**Gleason, Mary Louise (1999) "The Metropolitan New York Section of the History of Science Society",*Isis*, Vol. 90, Supplement:*Catching up with the Vision: Essays on the Occasion of the 75th Anniversary of the Founding of the History of Science Society*, pp. S200-S218. University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society**^**Staff (May 3, 1954) "Guggenheim Fund Grants $1,000,000"*The New York Times***^**WorldCat.org OCLC=916224186**^**Library of Congress Online Catalog, BIBLD=8312338**^**Library of Congress Online Catalog, BIBLD=7462342**^**Library of Congress Online Catalog, BIBLD=3111320**^**Library of Congress Online Catalog, BIBLD=3121041**^***Scripta Mathematica*. 1950. Retrieved 2007-10-21.**^**Unknown (March 21, 2010) "Marjorie Boyer" (paid obituary),*The New York Times***^**"Columbia College Bulletin:Prizes and Fellowships". Retrieved 2009-02-20.

**Further reading**

- Boyer, Carl B. (August 30–September 6, 1950). Lecture: "The Foremost Textbook of Modern Times." International Congress of Mathematicians, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Retrieved on 2009-02-20.
- Boyer, Carl B. (1949). The history of the calculus and its conceptual development Hafner Publishing Company, New York, ed. Dover 1959. Retrieved on 2010-03-30.

## External links

- Quotations related to Carl B. Boyer at Wikiquote
- Carl Benjamin Boyer at Find a Grave