W. W. Rouse Ball

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Walter William Rouse Ball
Born (1850-08-14)14 August 1850
Hampstead, London, England
Died 4 April 1925(1925-04-04) (aged 74)
Elmside, Cambridge, England
Residence United Kingdom
Nationality British
Alma mater University College London
University of Cambridge
Known for Tessellations, magic squares, history of mathematics
Awards Smith's Prize (1874)
Scientific career
Fields Mathematician
Doctoral students Ernest Barnes

Walter William Rouse Ball, known as W. W. Rouse Ball (14 August 1850 – 4 April 1925), 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]


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 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.


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

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