Department of Mathematics

Eliakim Hastings Moore was appointed the first chair of the mathematics department in 1892. Educated at Yale, Moore had taught at the University of Gottingen in Germany, a major mathematical research in the world at that time. Upon his appointment, he immediately appointed two German mathematicians who had been students of his at Gottingen, Oskar Bolza and Heinrich Mascke. The three formed a strong and motivated team. Between 1892–1910, Chicago awarded 39 doctorates in mathematics, more than many other research institutions at that time including Cornell, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins. The department was one of a rare few research oriented mathematics departments and one of the leading department of mathematics in the United States.

Following the death of Mascke in 1908, Bolza returned to Germany and the department lost some of its momentum. A number of their Ph.D. students went on to illustrious careers in mathematics, and many of them returned to the University of Chicago to help reenergize the department. Gilbert A. Bliss, was one. He wrote his thesis with Bolza. After teaching a number of other schools, including Princeton, he became an associate professor at Chicago in 1908 and then succeeded Moore as chairman of the department in 1927.

Portrait of Oskar Bolza

From the Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. Available at: http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/. Identifier: apf1-00797

Moore and Bliss

From the Photographic Archive, Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library. Available at: http://photoarchive.lib.uchicago.edu/. Identifier: apf1-00914