David Eugene Smith

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David Eugene Smith
David Eugene Smith.jpg
David Eugene Smith
BornJanuary 21, 1860
DiedJuly 29, 1944 (1944-07-30) (aged 84)
New York City, New York
CitizenshipUnited States
Scientific career

David Eugene Smith (January 21, 1860 – July 29, 1944) was an American mathematician, educator, and editor.

Education and career[edit]

David Eugene Smith is considered one of the founders of the field of mathematics education. Smith was born in Cortland, New York, to Abram P. Smith, attorney and surrogate judge, and Mary Elizabeth Bronson, who taught her young son Latin and Greek.[1] He attended Syracuse University, graduating in 1881 (Ph. D., 1887; LL.D., 1905). He studied to be a lawyer concentrating in arts and humanities, but accepted an instructorship in mathematics at the Cortland Normal School in 1884 [2] where he attended as a young man. While at the Cortland Normal School Smith became a member of the Young Men's Debating Club[3] (today the Delphic Fraternity.) He became a professor at the Michigan State Normal College in 1891 (later Eastern Michigan University), the principal at the State Normal School in Brockport, New York (1898), and a professor of mathematics at Teachers College, Columbia University (1901) where he remained until his retirement in 1926.

Smith became president of the Mathematical Association of America in 1920[2][4] and served as the president of the History of Science Society in 1927.[5] He also wrote a large number of publications of various types. He was editor of the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society; contributed to other mathematical journals; published a series of textbooks; translated Felix Klein's Famous Problems of Geometry, Fink's History of Mathematics, and the Treviso Arithmetic. He edited[6] Augustus De Morgan's A Budget of Paradoxes (1915) and edited [7] A Source Book in Mathematics (1929). He wrote many books on Mathematics which are listed below. He served as Mathematics Editor of the 14th edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1929. Abacus and Algebra were his own contributions to the first volume.


In 2020, Francis Su published Mathematics for Human Flourishing, in which he cites Smith's speech entitled "Religio Mathematici" (Latin: faith of a mathematician), his farewell address delivered to the Mathematical Association of America in 1921.[8]

An annotated collection of Smith's writings was published in 2022. It includes postcards (digitized by the Cortland Historical Society), poetry, speeches, and various excerpts from his works. In the foreword, Francis Su writes of Smith: "He rekindled the awe I experienced when I first saw the beauty and depth of mathematics, an awe that I—as a mathematician who now takes these things for granted—might have long since forgotten."[9]



Selected articles[edit]

  • Smith, David Eugene (February 1921). "Among my autographs". The American Mathematical Monthly. 28 (2): 64–65. doi:10.2307/2973036. JSTOR 2973036.


  1. ^ DONOGHUE, EILEEN F. (1998). "In Search of Mathematical Treasures: David Eugene Smith and George Arthur Plimpton". Historia Mathematica. 25 (4): 359–365. doi:10.1006/hmat.1998.2203.
  2. ^ a b "David Eugene Smith, 1920 MAA President | Mathematical Association of America".
  3. ^ An Honorable Record: Some of the alumni of the Young Men's Debating Club. Cortland Evening Standard, Friday, April 12, 1895.
  4. ^ Smith, David Eugene (October 1921). "Religio Mathematici. Presidential address delivered before the Mathematical Association of America, September 7, 1921". The American Mathematical Monthly. 28 (10): 339–349. doi:10.2307/2972153. JSTOR 2972153.
  5. ^ The History of Science Society "The Society: Past Presidents of the History of Science Society" Archived December 12, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, accessed 4 December 2013
  6. ^ G. B. Mathews (1916) A Budget of Paradoxes From Nature 97:77 to 79 (#2421)
  7. ^ Karpinski, L. C. (1932). "Book Review: A Source Book in Mathematics edited by David Eugene Smith". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. 38 (5): 333–335. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1932-05393-9.
  8. ^ Su, Francis Edward (2020). Mathematics for human flourishing. With Christopher Jackson. New Haven. ISBN 978-0-300-23713-9. OCLC 1090441053.
  9. ^ a b Smith, David Eugene (2022). Abbey, Tristan (ed.). In the Shadow of the Palms: The Selected Works of David Eugene Smith. Foreword by Francis Su. Alexandria, Va: Science Venerable Press. pp. xi. ISBN 978-1-959976-00-4.
  10. ^ Wooster Woodruff Beman: Faculty History Project Archived July 2, 2017, at the Wayback Machine (University of Michigan)
  11. ^ Jackson, Lambert L. (1910). "'Review: Rara Arithmetica, by David Eugene Smith". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 16 (6): 312–314. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1910-01909-1.
  12. ^ McKelvey, J. V. (1915). "Book Review: The Hindu-Arabic Numerals". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. 21 (4): 202–204. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1915-02609-1.
  13. ^ Emch, Arnold (1923). "Review of Elements of Projective Geometry by G. H. Ling, George Wentworth and D. E. Smith". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 29 (5): 233. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1923-03710-5.
  14. ^ Archibald, R. C. (1935). "American Mathematics Before 1900". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 41 (9): 603–606. doi:10.1090/s0002-9904-1935-06148-8.

External links[edit]

Academic offices
Preceded by
Charles McLean
Principal of the Brockport State Normal School
1898 – 1901
Succeeded by
Charles T. McFarlane