Joseph Wedderburn

Joseph Wedderburn

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Joseph Wedderburn

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Joseph Henry Maclagan Wedderburn (2 February 1882 Forfar, Angus, Scotland – 9 October 1948, Princeton, New Jersey) was a Scottish mathematician, who taught at Princeton University for most of his career. A significant algebraist, he proved that a finite division algebra is a field, and part of the Artin–Wedderburn theorem on simple algebras. He also worked on group theory and matrix algebra.


Joseph Wedderburn was the tenth of 14 children of Alexander Wedderburn, a physician, and Anne Ogilvie. In 1898, he entered the University of Edinburgh. In 1903, he published his first three papers, worked as an assistant in the Physical Laboratory of the University, and obtained an M.A. degree with First Class Honours in mathematics.

He then studied briefly at the University of Leipzig and the University of Berlin, where he met the algebraists Frobenius and Schur. A Carnegie Scholarship allowed him to spend the 1904-1905 academic year at the University of Chicago where he worked with Oswald Veblen, E. H. Moore, and most importantly, Leonard Dickson, who was to become the most important American algebraist of his day.

Returning to Scotland in 1905, Wedderburn worked for four years at the University of Edinburgh as an assistant to George Chrystal, who supervised his D.Sc, awarded in 1908 for a thesis titled On Hypercomplex Numbers. From 1906 to 1908, Wedderburn edited the Proceedings of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society. In 1909, he returned to the United States to become a...
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