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Mac Lane, Saunders 1909–2005

Mac Lane, Saunders 1909–2005

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 4, 1909, in Norwich, CT; died of constrictive heart disease April 14, 2005, in San Francisco, CA. Mathematician, educator, and author. Mac Lane was considered by his colleagues to be one of the most influential mathematicians of the twentieth century. Graduating from Yale University in 1930, and then earning his master's degree from the University of Chicago, he went on to study in Germany at the University of Göttingen, then considered the leading institution for mathematics in the world. However, when the Nazis rose to power many of the university's math professors, who were mostly Jewish, were forced out of teaching. Mac Lane nevertheless managed to complete his Ph.D. in 1934 and then returned to the United States. He taught at the University of Chicago for a year, then at Harvard University through the mid-1940s, and returned to Chicago in 1947 as a professor of mathematics. He was named Max Mason Distinguished Professor in 1963, and remained in this post until his 1982 retirement, although he still continued to teach courses afterward. In addition to teaching, Mac Lane was an innovative theoretician. He was credited with developing category theory, made strides in algebraic field theory, and made other contributions as well. A former president of the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society, he wrote, cowrote, or edited several scholarly works, including Categories for the Working Mathematician (1971) and Mathematics, Form and Function (1986).



Chicago Tribune, April 23, 2005, Section 2, p. 11; April 24, 2005, section 4, p. 9.

Los Angeles Times, May 1, 2005, p. B14.

New York Times, April 21, 2005, p. A21.

Times (London, England), May 3, 2005, p. 50.

Washington Post, April 25, 2005, p. B5.

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