David Eugene Smith

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David Eugene Smith (born January 21, 1860 in Cortland , New York , † July 29, 1944 in New York ) was an American mathematics historian and mathematics teacher.

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Smith studied art history, classical languages ​​and Hebrew at Syracuse University , where he received his doctorate in 1881. He then studied at the request of his father, a lawyer and district judge, law in Syracuse and was admitted to the bar in 1884. He preferred to be a math teacher and received his doctorate in mathematics in Syracuse in 1884 and in art history in 1887. He was then a math teacher at State Normal College in Ypsilanti, Michigan, and headmaster in Brockport, New York.

From 1901 he was a mathematics professor at the Teachers College of Columbia University , where he stayed until his retirement in 1926.

The International Commission on the Teaching of Mathematics (ICTM) was founded on his initiative, chaired by Felix Klein . Smith was vice president from 1908 to 1920 and president from 1928 to 1932.

Smith was also the American Mathematical Society's librarian from 1902 to 1920 and an avid collector of mathematical literature himself. His library of 11,000 volumes went to Columbia University (he also advised another collector of mathematical literature, George Plimpton). He was particularly interested in Indian, Arabic, Far Eastern and medieval mathematics.

In 1932 he was president of the AMS. He also helped found the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) and served on its Board of Trustees. From 1920 to 1921 and from 1928 to 1932 he was President of the MAA. For a long time he was co-editor of their American Mathematical Monthly. He was also involved in the founding of Scripta Mathematica by his student Jekuthiel Ginsburg .

Smith co-founded the History of Science Society in 1924 and its first president in 1927. He was co-editor of Scripta Mathematica.

For a verse version of the Rubayat of ʿOmar Chayyām published in 1933, he received an order from the Shah of Persia.


  • with W. Beman: Plane and Solid Geometry , 1895
  • History of Modern Mathematics , 1896
  • History of Mathematics , 2 volumes, 1923, 1925
  • with Jekuthiel Ginsburg : History of Mathematics in America before 1900 , MAA, Carus Mathematical Monographs, 1930, Archive
  • Rara Arithmetica , 1908
  • Number stories of long ago , 1919
  • with L. Karpinski: Hindu-Arabic Numerals , 1919
  • with Yoshio Mikami : A history of japanese mathematics , 1914 ( online copy at archive.org )
  • with J. Ginsburg: A history of mathematics in America before 1900 , 1934