In 1950 he received a doctorate in mathematics from Harvard University.
His principal research investigations involve linear algebra and operator theory in Hilbert space. Furthermore he has made contributions to numerical analysis, geometry, and algebraic logic. He is one of the eponyms of the Davis–Kahan theorem and Bhatia–Davis inequality (along with Rajendra Bhatia). The Davis-Kahan-Weinberger dilation theorem  is one of the landmark results in the dilation theory of Hilbert space operators and has found applications in many different areas. A PhD thesis titled "Backward Perturbation and Sensitivity Analysis of Structured Polynomial Eigenvalue Problem"  is dedicated to this theorem. Davis has written around eighty research papers in mathematics.
He began his writing career in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946. From 1946 through 1962 he produced a spate of science fiction stories, mostly published there. One of the earliest, published May 1946, was The Nightmare, later the lead story in A Treasury of Science Fiction, edited by Groff Conklin; it argued for a national policy of decentralizing industry to evade nuclear attacks by terrorists. He also issued the fanzine "Blitherings" in the 1940s.
Davis—along with two other professors, Mark Nickerson and Clement Markert—refused to cooperate with the House Unamerican Activities Committee and was subsequently dismissed from the University of Michigan. Davis was then sentenced to a six-month prison term where he was able to do some research. A paper from this era has the following acknowledgement:
The Federal government released Davis from prison in 1960. After his release, Davis moved to Canada, where he currently resides.
In 1991, the University of Michigan Senate initiated the annual Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture on Academic and Intellectual Freedom. Recent speakers have included: Cass Sunstein (2008), Nadine Strossen (2007), Bill Keller (2006), Floyd Abrams (2005), and Noam Chomsky (2004).
- Biography at the University of Regina's Department of Mathematics & Statistics
- Chan Davis at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Davis, Markert, Nickerson Lecture Series on Academic and Intellectual Freedom
- Chandler Davis at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Victim of McCarthy-Era Witch Hunt calls on U-Illinois not to Fire Critic of Israeli Policies
- Tuck, Donald H. (1974). The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent. p. 129. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.
- The Nightmare by Chan Davis: About the author
- Chandler Davis, W. M. Kahan, and H. F. Weinberger Norm-Preserving Dilations and Their Applications to Optimal Error Bounds, SIAM J. Numer. Anal. 19-3 (1982), pp. 445-469.
- B. Adhikari, Backward Perturbation and Sensitivity Analysis of Structured Polynomial Eigenvalue Problems, Ph.D. thesis, Department of Mathematics, IIT Guwahati, Guwahati, India, 2008.
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.
- "Chandler Davis in Fannish Conversation". SFContario 2010 Panel Descriptions
- Share1163 Hedges, Chris. "The Origin of America’s Intellectual Vacuum" Truth-Out.org November 15, 2010“It wasn’t a cinch I would be in the Communist Party, but in fact I was, starting in 1943 and then resigning soon after on instructions from the party because I was in the military service. This was part of the coexistence of the Communist Party with Roosevelt and the military. It would not disrupt things during the war. When I got out of the Navy I rejoined the Communist Party, but that lapsed in June of 1953. I never got back in touch with them. At the time I was subpoenaed I was technically an ex-Communist, but I did not feel I had left the movement and in some sense I never did.”
- Page 181 in Davis, Chandler (1963). "An extremum problem for plane convex curves". In Victor L. Klee. Convexity. Proceedings of Symposia in Pure Mathematics VII. Providence, Rhode Island: American Mathematical Society. pp. 181–185. MR 154189. catalog #63-10760.. Excerpt in Google Books.
- “Shooting Rats in a Barrel”: Did the Red-hunt Win?