Henry White

White was one of perhaps a dozen men who furnished the inspiration and set the pattern for the development of the present school of American mathematics. ~ Coble


Henry White was born May 20th 1861 in Cazenovia, New York, to Isadore Maria Haight and Professor Aaron White. The same day 82 years later he past away in Poughkeepsie, New York due mainly to heart problems. Professor Aaron White taught Mathematics and Surveying at the Cazenovia Seminary. Henry White attended Wesleyan University in Middletown Connecticut. Showing great aptitude towards Philosophy, Logic, Latin, Mathematics, Ethics and Astronomy. Professor Van Vleck his astronomy professor became his mentor and convinced White to study mathematics at a graduate level which he completed in 1882. Right after graduation he began the work as an Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics at Wesleyan, remaining in the position until 1883. Following his work as an Assistant Professor he worked at Centenary College as a instructor of mathematics and Chemistry. Missing Wesleyan he returned in 1884 and worked both as a Registrar and tutor. He briefly thought about being a surveyor but thinking better of it he left in 1887 for Germany to pursue a career of mathematics at University of Goettingen.
He remained in Germany tell 1890 studying geometry publishing many papers. Returning to the United States he married Mary Willard. At Clark University he was an assistant in Mathematics for 2 years, then began work as a Professor at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. The He served on the Committee for the Congress of Mathematics associated with the World’s Fair which was hosted in Chicago for 1893 and 1894. Between the years 1899-1906 he became an Editor for the “Annals of Mathematics” and also joined the American Mathematical Society.
The early 1900s was a busy time for White. He took on many projects and posts starting in 1907 when he became president of the American Mathematical Society until 1908. He continued working with society as the editor and of the society’s Journal “Transactions” to 1914. Following his work with the American mathematical society he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1915. He also served as an editor of the mathematical journal “The Bulletin” and accepted the chairmanship of the Mathematics Department of Vassar College in 1905 in Poughkeepsie. He remained at the college until he retired in 1936.
In 1925 his book the “Plane Curves of the Third Order” was released in 1925 and a large success. White mainly focused his energies on the study of:

  • geometry of curves and surfaces
  • algebraic planes and twisted curves
  • theory of invariants
  • relativity in mechanics

One of his major success was making a proof of Hilbert method of deriving invariants and covariant ternary.

In studying Linear Systems of Curves on Surfaces he used the Riemann-Roch Theorem
where p is zero if D is greater then 2p-2


Duren , P., Askey, R.A., Edwards, H.N., & Merzbach, U.C. (1989). A Century of Mathematicans. American Mathematical Society Part III. 53. Accessed on World Wide Web 22/02/2008 at http://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cy6juceOQ54C&pg=PA53&dq=subject:%22+Mathematics+%22Henry+WHite&as_brr=3&rview=1&sig=Q7MRXZHIju-Z9OLgMEwsXy5sxJc.

O'Connor, J.J. (August 2005). Henry Seely White. Retrieved February 21, 2008, from MacTutor History of Mathematics Web site: http://www.history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/WHite.html

JLD, (2007,9,25). Henry Seely White. Retrieved February 25, 2008, from Vassar College Encylcopedia Web site: http://vcencyclopedia.vassar.edu/index.php/Henry_Seely_White

White, Henry S. (1903). Linear Systems of Curves Upon Algebraic Surfaces . Bulletin of American Mathematical Society, 10, Retrieved 2,25,2008, from http://www.ams.org/bull/1903-10-03/S0002-9904-1903-01075-1/home.html?pagingLink=%3Ca+href%3D%22%2Fjoursearch%2Fservlet%2FDoSearch%3Fco1%3Dand%26co2%3Dand%26co3%3Dand%26cperpage%3D50%26csort%3Dd%26endmo%3D00%26f1%3Dmsc%26f2%3Dtitle%26f3%3Danywhere%26f4%3Dauthor%26format%3Dstandard%26jrnl%3Dams%26sendit22%3DSearch%26sperpage%3D30%26ssort%3Dd%26startmo%3D00%26timingString%3DQuery%2Btook%2B154%2Bmilliseconds.%26v4%3DHenry%2BWhite%26startRec%3D31%22%3E

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