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James Joseph Sylvester
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James Joseph Sylvester

James Joseph Sylvester (September 14, 1814 - March 15, 1897) was an English mathematician and lawyer.

Sylvester was born in London and studied at St John's College, Cambridge from 1833 but because he was Jewish he did not graduate. However, he took Cambridge's famous mathematics exam and was ranked second. In 1841 he came to United States for a short period to become a professor at the University of Virginia but he soon returned to England.

In 1877 Sylvester again crossed the Atlantic ocean for a new job at Johns Hopkins University. In 1878 he founded the American Journal of Mathematics, the first mathematical journal in the United States.

It is said that Sylvester invented one of the highest numbers of mathematical terms such as the totient function φ(n). His scientific work is collected in a four volume book.

In 1880 the Royal Society of London awarded Sylvester the Copley Medal, their highest award for scientific achievement.

Sylvester House, one of the undergraduate dormitories at Johns Hopkins, is named in his honor.

Selected works

  1. James Joseph Sylvester, On rational derivation from equations of coexistence, that is to say, a new and extended theory of elimination, Part I, Philos. Mag. 15 (1839), 428-435.
  2. James Joseph Sylvester, On the partition of numbers, Quart. J. Math., I (1857), 141-152.
  3. James Joseph Sylvester, Outlines of seven lectures on the partition of numbers, Proc. Lond. Math. Soc. 28 (1897), 33-96.

See also: Chebyshev-Sylvester constant, Sylvester's identity, Sylvester's sequence, Sylvester's theorem.

External link