Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Eric Temple Bell
Eric Temple Bell (1883 - 1960) was a mathematician born in Scotland who lived in the USA from 1903 until his death. He attended Stanford University and Columbia University and was on the faculty first at the University of Washington and later at the California Institute of Technology. He did research in number theory; see in particular Bell series. He attempted — not altogether successfully — to make the traditional umbral calculus (understood at that time to be the same thing as the "symbolic method" of Blissard) logically rigorous. He is the eponym of the Bell polynomials and the Bell numbers of combinatorics, and of the Bell series. (He is not the eponym of the "bell curve", which is so called because of its apparent similarity in shape to the cross section of a bell.)
He wrote a book of biographical sketches titled Men of Mathematics , which is still in print. It inspired many people to take up mathematics, though historians of mathematics do not regard it as particularly accurate.
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