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Last Updated: Jan 31, 2014 URL: http://libguides.lib.msu.edu/mathematicians Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts
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Introduction

Information on famous mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics can be found both in the Mathematics Library, located in D101 Wells Hall, and in the Main Library. Some of the better sources in the Mathematics Library have been placed on Math Library Reference in order to make them available to all. Check the catalog for the location. The Biographical Dictionary of Mathematicians, located in Math Library Reference (QA 28 .B534 1991), may be especially useful both for its extensive coverage of selected mathematicians and for the topical essays on mathematics in early civilizations, e.g. Mesopotamia. Keep in mind that the spelling or names of early mathematicians may vary. For example, the Arab mathematician, Al-Khowarizmi, can also be found under Al-Khwarizmi, or Al-jabr, or Mohammed; his name may be indexed under A, K, or M. Leonardo of Pisa is also known as Fibonacci.

 

Books

To locate books on famous mathematicians, use the catalog. You can start with a keyword or subject search of the mathematician's name.

Examples:

Keyword: boole george
Subject (LC Subject): boole george

A broader subject search of the catalog is useful to find books covering many mathematicians or books dealing with the history of mathematics. The following examples illustrate some of the subject headings that can be used.

Examples:

Mathematicians--biography
Women--mathematicians--biography
Mathematics--history
Mathematics--greek
Mathematics--hindu

If you wish to browse the bookshelves, relevant information will be found under the following call numbers:

QA21: Mathematics general history
QA22: Mathematics ancient history
QA23: Mathematics medieval history
QA24: Mathematics history, 16th - 18th centuries
QA26: Mathematics history, 19th - 20th centuries
QA28: Mathematics history by region or country
QA27.5: Women in mathematics
QA28: Mathematics collective biographies
QA29: Mathematics individual biographies

Online Encyclopedias

 

Journals and Databases

Some general databases can be used to find articles on mathematicians. Search in ArticleFirst, Biography Index, or ProQuest Research Library. These databases work best if you have a particular mathematician in mind.

The specialized database, MathSciNet, can also be used. MathSciNet will provide more comprehensive results if the word "AND" is used between the mathematician's last and first name in the "anywhere" field (example: Richard AND Dedekind). Most of the articles in MathSciNet are at a research level, but useful articles on famous mathematicans can be found there. If you are doing a very general search, this may be the place to start (Example: "mathematicians in geometry" might be searched by using the classification code 51-03--Geometry Historical). Some of the journals that provide biographical information on mathematicians and their contributions to mathematics are:

American Mathematical Monthly
Call Number: QA1 .A515
ISBN: 0002-9890

Archive for the History of Exact Sciences
Call Number: QA1 .A7
ISBN: 1432-0657

Historia Mathematica
Call Number: QA21.A1 H5
ISBN: 1090-249X

Mathematical Intelligencer
Call Number: QA1 .M355
ISBN: 0343-6993

Mathematics Magazine
Call Number: QA1 .M35
ISBN: 0025-570X

Websites

  • Links to Websites on the History of Mathematics
  • MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive
    Contains the biographies of more than 1100 mathematicians. References are given for the biographies and these references can be used to locate further information.
  • Mathematics Genealogy Project
    Attempts to collect information about every mathematician in the world.
  • Archives of American Mathematics
    The Archives of American Mathematics at the University of Texas at Austin is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the records of American mathematicians and mathematical organizations for use by historians, mathematicians, educators, and others interested in the history and development of mathematics.
  • Turing Digital Archive
    A digital archive of mainly unpublished personal papers and photographs of Alan Turing from 1923-1972. The originals are in the Turing archive in King's College Cambridge.

Subject Guide

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