Frank Nelson Cole
|Frank Nelson Cole|
September 20, 1861|
Ashland, Massachusetts, United States
|Died||May 26, 1926
New York City, New York, United States
University of Michigan
American Mathematical Society
|Doctoral advisor||Felix Klein|
|Doctoral students||Eric Temple Bell
George Abram Miller
Frank Nelson Cole, Ph.D. (September 20, 1861 – May 26, 1926) was an American mathematician, born in Ashland, Massachusetts, and educated at Harvard, where he lectured on mathematics from 1885 to 1887.
Cole published a number of important papers, including The Diurnal Variation of Barometric Pressure (1892).
In 1903 Cole famously made a presentation to a meeting of the American Mathematical Society where he identified the factors of the Mersenne number 267 − 1, or M67. Édouard Lucas had demonstrated in 1876 that M67 must have factors (i.e., is not prime), however he was unable to determine what those factors were. During Cole's so-called "lecture", he approached the chalkboard and in complete silence proceeded to calculate the value of M67, with the result being 147,573,952,589,676,412,927. Cole then moved to the other side of the board and wrote 193,707,721 × 761,838,257,287, and worked through the tedious calculations by hand. Upon completing the multiplication and demonstrating that the result equaled M67, Cole returned to his seat, not having uttered a word during the hour-long presentation. His audience greeted the presentation with a standing ovation. Cole later admitted that finding the factors had taken "three years of Sundays".
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Frank Nelson Cole", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- Episode #450 of This American Life (“So Crazy It Just Might Work”)
- Frank Nelson Cole at the Mathematics Genealogy Project