W. W. Rouse Ball

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W. W. Rouse Ball
Walter William Rouse Ball

(1850-08-14)14 August 1850
Hampstead, London, England
Died4 April 1925(1925-04-04) (aged 74)
Cambridge, England
Alma materTrinity College, Cambridge
Known for
AwardsSmith's Prize (1874)
Scientific career
InstitutionsTrinity College, Cambridge
Doctoral studentsErnest Barnes

Walter William Rouse Ball[a] (14 August 1850 – 4 April 1925), known as W. W. Rouse Ball, was a British mathematician, lawyer, and fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, from 1878 to 1905. He was also a keen amateur magician, and the founding president of the Cambridge Pentacle Club in 1919, one of the world's oldest magic societies.[1][2]


Born 14 August 1850 in Hampstead, London, Ball was the son and heir of Walter Frederick Ball, of 3, St John's Park Villas, South Hampstead, London. Educated at University College School, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge, in 1870, became a scholar and first Smith's Prizeman, and gained his BA in 1874 as second Wrangler. He became a Fellow of Trinity in 1875, and remained one for the rest of his life.[3]

He died on 4 April 1925 in Elmside, Cambridge,[citation needed] and is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge.[4]

He is commemorated in the naming of the small pavilion, now used as changing rooms and toilets, on Jesus Green in Cambridge.


  • A History of the Study of Mathematics at Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1889 (reissued by the publisher, 2009, ISBN 978-1-108-00207-3)

See also[edit]



  • Singmaster, David (2005), "1892 Walter William Rouse Ball, Mathematical recreations and problems of past and present times", in Grattan-Guinness, I. (ed.), Landmark Writings in Western Mathematics 1640–1940, Elsevier, pp. 653–663, ISBN 978-0-444-50871-3

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