Mathematician:Eric Temple Bell

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Scottish mathematician now more famous for his popular work on the history of mathematics Men of Mathematics.

Did research in number theory and analysis, and (less than successfully) worked on putting umbral calculus on a sound logical footing.

Also noted (in certain circles) for writing science fiction (under the pseudonym John Taine) and poetry.




  • Born: 7 Feb 1883, Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, Scotland
  • Died: 21 Dec 1960, Watsonville, California, USA

Theorems and Definitions

Definitions of concepts named for Eric Temple Bell can be found here.


as well as a great pile of science fiction novels, which he wrote under a pseudonym (John Taine) as well he might.

Notable Quotes

... a law which is as fundamental for human nature as the second law of thermodynamics is for the physical universe -- indeed it is of the same kind: all creeds tend to split into two, each of which in turn splits into two more, and so on, until after a certain finite number of generations (which can easily be calculated by logarithms) there are fewer human beings in any given region, no matter how large, than there are creeds, and further attenuations of the original dogma embodied in the first creed dilute it to a transparent gas too subtle to sustain faith in any human being, no matter how small.
-- 1937: Eric Temple Bell: Men of Mathematics: Chapter $\text{VII}$: Master of All Trades