G. B. Halsted

George Bruce Halsted

G. B. Halsted, geometer
Born (1853-11-25)November 25, 1853
Newark, New Jersey
Died March 16, 1922(1922-03-16) (aged 68)
New York City
Nationality United States
Fields Geometry
Institutions University of Texas, Austin
Kenyon College
Colorado State Teachers College
Alma mater Princeton University
Johns Hopkins University
Thesis Basis for a Dual Logic (1879)
Doctoral advisor J. J. Sylvester
Notable students R. L. Moore
L. E. Dickson
Known for Foundations of geometry
Influenced Alexander Macfarlane
Spouse Margaret Swearingen

George Bruce Halsted (November 25, 1853 – March 16, 1922), usually cited as G. B. Halsted, was an American mathematician who explored foundations of geometry and introduced non-Euclidean geometry into the United States through his own work and his many important translations. Especially noteworthy were his translations and commentaries relating to non-Euclidean geometry, including works by Bolyai, Lobachevski, Saccheri, and Poincaré. He wrote an elementary geometry text, Rational Geometry, based on Hilbert's axioms, which was translated into French, German, and Japanese.


Halsted was a tutor and instructor at Princeton University. He held a mathematical fellowship while a student at Princeton. Halsted was a fourth generation Princeton graduate, earning his Bachelor's degree in 1875 and his Master's in 1878. He went on to Johns Hopkins University where he was J. J. Sylvester's first student, receiving his Ph.D. in 1879. After graduation, Halsted served as an instructor in mathematics at Princeton until beginning his post at the University of Texas at Austin in 1884.

From 1884 to 1903, Halsted was a member of the University of Texas at Austin Department of Pure and Applied Mathematics, eventually becoming its chair. He taught mathematicians R. L. Moore and L. E. Dickson, among other students, who frequently joked that his primary criterion for the rationality of a geometric system was the simplicity of the terms in which it could express the closed space figure formed by the contours of his mustache. He explored the foundations of geometry and explored many alternatives to Euclid's development, culminating with his Rational Geometry. In the interest of hyperbolic geometry in 1891 he translated the work of Nicolai Lobachevsky on theory of parallels.[1] In 1893 in Chicago, Halsted read a paper Some salient points in the history of non-Euclidean and hyper-spaces at the International Mathematical Congress held in connection with the World's Columbian Exposition.[2] Halsted frequently contributed to the early American Mathematical Monthly. In one article[3] he championed the role of J. Bolyai in the development of non-Euclidean geometry and criticized C. F. Gauss.[4] See also the letter from Robert Gauss to Felix Klein on 3 September 1912.

In 1903, Halsted was fired from UT Austin after having published several articles that criticized the university for having passed over R. L. Moore, at that time a young and promising mathematician whom Halsted hoped to have as an assistant, for an instructor post in favor of a well-connected but less qualified candidate with roots in the area.[5] He completed his teaching career at St. John's College, Annapolis; Kenyon College, Gambier, Ohio (1903-1906); and the Colorado State Teachers College, Greeley (1906-1914).

George Halsted holding grandson, 1920

Halsted was a member of the American Mathematical Society and served as vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He was elected Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1905.[6]


See also


  1. Nicholaus Lobatschewsky (1840) G.B. Halsted translator (1891) Geometrical Researches on the Theory of Parallels, link from Google Books
  2. "Some salient points in the history of non-Euclidean and hyper-spaces by George Bruce Halsted". Mathematical papers read at the International Mathematical Congress held in connection with the World's Columbian Exposition. NY: Macmillan as publisher for the AMS. 1896. pp. 92–95.
  3. Halsted, G. B. (1912). "Duncan M. Y. Sommerville". American Mathematical Monthly. 19: 1–4. doi:10.2307/2973871.
  4. Sondow, J. (2014). "From the Monthly Over 100 Years Ago…". American Mathematical Monthly. 121: 963. doi:10.4169/amer.math.monthly.121.10.963. arXiv "Gauss and the eccentric Halsted".
  5. John Parker (2005) R.L. Moore: Mathematician and Teacher, Mathematical Association of America, Washington, DC, ISBN 0-88385-550-X, pp. 36-37.
  6. Meeting of Royal Astronomical Society, January 1905, Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 65(2): 185

External links

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