Marston Morse

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H. C. Marston Morse
Marston Morse.jpg
Marston Morse in 1965 (courtesy MFO)
Born (1892-03-24)24 March 1892
Waterville, Maine
Died 22 June 1977(1977-06-22) (aged 85)
Princeton, New Jersey
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Harvard University
Institute for Advanced Study
Alma mater Colby College
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor G. D. Birkhoff
Doctoral students Emilio Baiada
Arthur B. Brown
Gustav Hedlund
Walter Leighton
Sumner Myers
Arthur Sard
Known for Morse theory
Notable awards Bôcher Memorial Prize (1933)
National Medal of Science (1964)

Harold Calvin Marston Morse (24 March 1892 – 22 June 1977) was an American mathematician best known for his work on the calculus of variations in the large, a subject where he introduced the technique of differential topology now known as Morse theory. In 1933 he was awarded the Bôcher Memorial Prize for his work in mathematical analysis.


He was born in Waterville, Maine to Ella Phoebe Marston and Howard Calvin Morse in 1892. He received his bachelor's degree from Colby College (also in Waterville) in 1914. At Harvard University, he received both his master's degree in 1915 and his Ph.D. in 1917.

He taught at Harvard, Brown, and Cornell Universities before accepting a position in 1935 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained until his retirement in 1962.

He spent most of his career on a single subject, titled Morse Theory, a branch of differential topology. Morse Theory is a very important subject in modern mathematical physics, such as string theory.

Marston Morse should not be confused with Anthony Morse, famous for the Morse–Sard theorem.

See also[edit]




  • Calculus of variations in the large, American Mathematical Society, 1934 [1]
  • Topological methods in the theory of functions of a complex variable, Princeton University Press, 1947 [2]
  • Lectures on analysis in the large, 1947 
  • Symbolic dynamics, Mimeographed notes by R. Oldenberger. Princeton, NJ: Institute for Advanced Study. 1966. 
  • with Stewart Cairns: Critical point theory in global analysis and differential topology, Academic Press, 1969 
  • Variational analysis: critical extremals and Sturmian extensions, Wiley, 1973; 2nd edn. Dover, 2007 
  • Global variational analysis: Weierstrass integrals on a Riemannian manifold, Princeton University Press, 1976 [3]
  • Morse, Marston (1981), Bott, Raoul, ed., Selected papers, Berlin, New York: Springer-Verlag, ISBN 978-0-387-90532-7, MR 635124 
  • Morse, Marston (1987), Montgomery, Deane; Bott, Raoul, eds., Collected papers. Vol. 1--6, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing Co., ISBN 978-9971-978-94-5, MR 889255 



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