AMS Presidents: A Timeline

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Oswald Veblen


17. Oswald Veblen (1880-1960)

President, 1923-1924

Ph.D. University of Chicago, Illinois, 1903

Veblen did important research in the fields of foundations of geometry, projective geometry, topology, differential invariants, and spinors. He came to Princeton University in 1905. The Institute for Advanced Study (IAS) was founded in 1930, and when its School of Mathematics was established in 1932, Veblen was the first to be appointed as a professor. He was chiefly responsible for choosing the brilliant group of mathematicians who constituted the nucleus of the School: James Alexander, Albert Einstein, Marston Morse, John von Neumann, Hermann Weyl and Kurt Gödel. Three-year Veblen Research Instructorships, named in his honor, offer postdocs a year of research at the institute sandwiched between two years of teaching at Princeton University. As AMS president, Veblen oversaw a successful endowment campaign of 1923-26, after which he was appointed to oversee the establishment of the Society's Colloquium Publications (of which the first volume was published in 1927). He also notably assisted the Society with obtaining grants, which supported the Colloquium Publications. In 1961 the AMS established the Oswald Veblen Prize in Geometry in his honor. Veblen was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences.

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