A Century of mathematics in America (History of Mathematics, by Peter L. Duren, Richard Askey, Uta C. Merzbach

By Peter L. Duren, Richard Askey, Uta C. Merzbach

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80]. In 1909 Lowell succeeded Eliot as president at the age of 52. In his inaugural address [Mor, pp. lxxix-lxxxviii], Lowell outlined his plan of concentration and distribution, stating that a college graduate should "know a little of everything and something well" [Low, p. 40]. Having in mind the examples of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, he also proposed creating residential halls (at first for freshmen) to foster social integration. I shall discuss the fruition of these and other educational reforms of Lowell's in § 12 below.

In an unsolicited course paper, I also tried my hand at applying conservation laws to deduce the effect of spin on the bouncing of a tennis ball (I had played tennis with Kellogg, for several years a next door neighbor), as a function of its coefficient of (Coulomb) friction and its "coefficient of restitution". I 36 GARRETT BIRKHOFF was also delighted to learn the mathematical explanation of the "center of percussion" of a baseball bat. That spring my father gave me a short informal lecture on the crucial difference between pointwise and uniform convergence of a sequence of functions, and then challenged me to prove that any uniform limit of a sequence of continuous functions is continuous.

Walsh had a dramatic way of presenting delicate proofs, lowering his voice more and more as he approached the key point, which he would make in a whisper. Each week we were assigned theorems to prove as homework. As I was to learn decades later, our correctors were J. S. Frame, who became a distinguished mathematician, and Harry Blackmun, now a justice on the U. S. Supreme Court. They did their job most ably, conscientiously checking my homemade proofs, which often differed from those of the rest of the class.

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