David Bressoud

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David Bressoud
Born (1950-03-27) March 27, 1950 (age 73)
Alma materTemple University
AwardsMAA Distinguished Teaching Award
Beckenbach Book Prize
MAA George Pólya Lecturer
Scientific career
InstitutionsPennsylvania State University
Macalester College
Doctoral advisorEmil Grosswald

David Marius Bressoud (born March 27, 1950, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania) is an American mathematician who works in number theory, combinatorics, and special functions. As of 2019 he is DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics at Macalester College, Director of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences and a former President of the Mathematical Association of America.

Life and education[edit]

Bressoud was born March 27, 1950, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.[1] He became interested in mathematics in the seventh grade, where he had a teacher who encouraged him and gave him challenging problems. He attended Albert Wilansky's National Science Foundation summer program at Lehigh University between his junior and senior years in high school, where he also spent most of his time working on problems.[2]

He graduated from Swarthmore College in 1971.[3] When he started at Swarthmore he had not yet decided on a major, but after his first year he decided to get out of college as quickly as possibly and had no interest in graduate school, and the quickest way out was to major in mathematics.[2]

After graduating Bressoud became a Peace Corps volunteer in Antigua from 1971 to 1973, teaching math and science at Clare Hall School. While in Antigua he realized he missed mathematics, and kept working on it as a hobby.[2] After the Peace Corps he went to graduate school at Temple University,[2] and received his PhD in 1977 under Emil Grosswald.[4]


After receiving his PhD, Bressoud taught at Pennsylvania State University from 1977 to 1994, reaching the rank of full professor in 1986. During this period he held visiting positions at the Institute for Advanced Study (1979–1980), the University of Wisconsin (1980–81 and 1982), the University of Minnesota (1983 and 1998), and the University of Strasbourg (1984–85).[4]

His focus at Penn State was mathematics research, but in the late 1980s he became more interested in teaching and writing textbooks, and he decided to make a move. He said in a 2008 interview, "I needed to be in a place that had a strong focus on teaching and a community of people for whom teaching was what they were most interested in." He decided on a move to Macalester College in 1994, where he was DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics.[2] Since 2005 he has written a monthly online column for MAA titled "Launchings" that focuses on the CUPM (Committee on the Undergraduate Program in Mathematics) Curriculum Guide.[5]

Bressoud received several of the Mathematical Association of America's awards: the Distinguished Teaching Award for the Allegheny Mountain section in 1994,[6] the Beckenbach Book Prize in 1999,[7] and he was a George Pólya Lecturer from 2002 to 2004.[8]

Bressoud was elected president of the Mathematical Association of America in the 2007 elections, and served as President-Elect in 2008 and served as president from 2009 to 2011.[9] In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[10] He began phased retirement at Macalester College in 2016 and in 2017 took over the position of Director of the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences from Ron Rosier, who had served in that capacity for 29 years.

Selected publications[edit]

  • Bressoud, David (1989). Factorization and Primality Testing. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-97040-0.
  • Bressoud, David (1991). Second Year Calculus: From Celestial Mechanics to Special Relativity. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN 978-0-387-97606-8.
  • Bressoud, David (1999). Proofs and Confirmations: The Story of the Alternating Sign Matrix Conjecture. Cambridge: Mathematical Association of America/Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-66646-6.
  • Bressoud, David; Wagon, Stan (2000). A Course in Computational Number Theory. New York: Key College Publishing in cooperation with Springer. ISBN 978-1-930190-10-8.
  • Bressoud, David (2007). A Radical Approach to Real Analysis (2nd ed.). Washington: Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 978-0-88385-747-2.
  • Bressoud, David (2008). A Radical Approach to Lebesgue's Theory of Integration. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press/Mathematical Association of America. ISBN 978-0-521-71183-8.
  • Bressoud, David (2019). Calculus Reordered: A History of the Big Ideas. Princeton: Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-18131-8.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Biographies of Candidates 2002" (PDF). Notices of the American Mathematical Society. Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society. 49 (8): 970–981. September 2002.
  2. ^ a b c d e Peterson, Ivars (January 2009). "An Interview with David Bressoud, MAA President" (PDF). MAA Focus. Washington, D.C.: Mathematical Association of America. 29 (1): 6–8. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  3. ^ "David Bressoud biography". Mathematical Association of America. January 12, 2009. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  4. ^ a b "Northeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America; Fall 2004 Meeting - WPI; Biographies of Invited Speakers". Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  5. ^ "David Bressoud's Launchings". Mathematical Association of America. October 12, 2019. Retrieved 2019-10-12.
  6. ^ Martha J. Siegel (April 2007). "The Mathematical Association of America 2007 National Elections" (PDF). Mathematical Association of America. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  7. ^ "The Mathematical Association of America's Beckenbach Book Prize". Mathematical Association of America. December 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  8. ^ "The Mathematical Association of America's George Pólya Lecturers". Mathematical Association of America. September 20, 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  9. ^ "MAA Officers' Election". Mathematical Association of America. June 1, 2007. Retrieved 2009-02-01.
  10. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2012-11-10.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]