Sylvester, James Joseph

Sylvester, James Joseph,

1814–97, English mathematician. He studied at Cambridge for four years after 1831, but because degrees were limited to members of the Church of England and he was a Jew, he was not granted a degree until 1872. He was professor of mathematics at the Univ. of Virginia (1841) and at the Royal Military Academy, Woolwich, England (1855–70). Returning to the United States in 1876, he became the first professor of mathematics at Johns Hopkins, where in 1878 he founded the American Journal of Mathematics. He was Savilian professor of geometry at Oxford (1883–94). He is known especially for his work on algebraic invariants, matrices, determinants, and the theory of numbers, much of his most important work being done in collaboration with Arthur Cayley.

Sylvester, James Joseph


Born Sept. 3, 1814, in London; died there Mar. 15, 1897. English mathematician.

Sylvester graduated from Cambridge University in 1837. He was a professor at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich from 1855 to 1870 and at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA) from 1876 to 1883. In 1883 he became a professor at Oxford University. Sylvester’s principal work was in algebra, number theory, probability theory, mechanics, and mathematical physics. His most important investigations dealt with the theory of invariants and its geometric applications. In 1878 he founded the first American mathematical journal, The American Journal of Mathematics. Sylvester became a foreign corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences in 1872.


The Collected Mathematical Papers, vols. 1–4. Cambridge, 1904–12.
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