Thornton Carle Fry

Last updated

Thornton Carle Fry (7 January 1892, Findlay, Ohio – 1 January 1991) was an applied mathematician, known for his two widely-used textbooks, Probability and its engineering uses (1928) [1] and Elementary differential equations (1929). [2]



Thornton C. Fry received his bachelor's degree from Findlay College in 1912 and then pursued graduate study in Wisconsin in mathematics, physics, and astronomy. He received his M.A. in 1913 [3] and his Ph.D. in 1920 in applied mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with thesis under the supervision of Charles S. Slichter. [4] [5]

Fry was employed as an industrial mathematician by Western Electric Company from 1916 to 1924 and then by Bell Telephone Laboratories (Bell Labs), which was half-owned by Western Electric. He headed a corporate division for industrial applications of mathematics and statistics and was involved in research and development for the U.S. federal government in both world wars.

After retiring (due to reaching the mandatory retirement age) from Bell Labs, he worked as a consultant with Boeing Scientific Research Labs and also, during the 1960s, with Walter Orr Roberts, director of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. [6]

In 1924 Fry was an Invited Speaker of the International Congress of Mathematicians in Toronto. [7] In 1982 the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) gave him the MAA's distinguished service award. [8]

Selected publications


Related Research Articles

Jacques Hadamard French mathematician

Jacques Salomon Hadamard ForMemRS was a French mathematician who made major contributions in number theory, complex analysis, differential geometry and partial differential equations.

Solomon Lefschetz American mathematician

Solomon Lefschetz was an American mathematician who did fundamental work on algebraic topology, its applications to algebraic geometry, and the theory of non-linear ordinary differential equations.

Donald Clayton Spencer was an American mathematician, known for work on deformation theory of structures arising in differential geometry, and on several complex variables from the point of view of partial differential equations. He was born in Boulder, Colorado, and educated at the University of Colorado and MIT.

Carl Runge German mathematician and physicist

Carl David Tolmé Runge was a German mathematician, physicist, and spectroscopist.

Marston Morse American mathematician

Harold Calvin Marston Morse was an American mathematician best known for his work on the calculus of variations in the large, a subject where he introduced the technique of differential topology now known as Morse theory. The Morse–Palais lemma, one of the key results in Morse theory, is named after him, as is the Thue–Morse sequence, an infinite binary sequence with many applications. In 1933 he was awarded the Bôcher Memorial Prize for his work in mathematical analysis.

E. T. Whittaker British mathematician

Sir Edmund Taylor Whittaker FRS FRSE LLD was a British mathematician who contributed widely to applied mathematics, mathematical physics, and the theory of special functions. He had a particular interest in numerical analysis, but also worked on celestial mechanics, the history of physics, and digital signal processing. Near the end of his career he received the Copley Medal, the most prestigious honorary award in British science. The School of Mathematics of the University of Edinburgh holds The Whittaker Colloquium, a yearly lecture in his honour.

Édouard Goursat French mathematician

Édouard Jean-Baptiste Goursat was a French mathematician, now remembered principally as an expositor for his Cours d'analyse mathématique, which appeared in the first decade of the twentieth century. It set a standard for the high-level teaching of mathematical analysis, especially complex analysis. This text was reviewed by William Fogg Osgood for the Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. This led to its translation into English by Earle Raymond Hedrick published by Ginn and Company. Goursat also published texts on partial differential equations and hypergeometric series.

Edward Charles "Ted" Titchmarsh was a leading English mathematician.

Hans Lewy American mathematician

Hans Lewy was a Jewish German born American mathematician, known for his work on partial differential equations and on the theory of functions of several complex variables.

Leonard Eugene Dickson was an American mathematician. He was one of the first American researchers in abstract algebra, in particular the theory of finite fields and classical groups, and is also remembered for a three-volume history of number theory, History of the Theory of Numbers.

Luther Pfahler Eisenhart was an American mathematician, best known today for his contributions to semi-Riemannian geometry.

Edward Thomas Copson FRSE was a British mathematician who contributed widely to the development of mathematics at the University of St. Andrews, serving as Regius Professor of Mathematics amongst other positions.

Joseph Fels Ritt was an American mathematician at Columbia University in the early 20th century. He was born and died in New York.

Wallie Abraham Hurwitz American mathematician

Wallie Abraham Hurwitz was an American mathematician who worked on analysis.

Clarence Raymond Adams American mathematician

Clarence Raymond Adams was an American mathematician who worked on partial difference equations.

Paul Charles Rosenbloom was an American mathematician.

Rudolf Ernest Langer was an American mathematician, known for the Langer correction and as a president of the Mathematical Association of America.

Harold Thayer Davis was a mathematician, statistician, and econometrician, known for the Davis distribution.

James Henry Weaver was an American mathematician.

Victor Lenard Shapiro was an American mathematician, specializing in trigonometric series and differential equations. He is known for his two theorems on the uniqueness of multiple Fourier series.


  1. Struik, D. J. (1930). "Review of Probability and its Engineering Uses by T. C. Fry". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 36: 19–21. doi: 10.1090/S0002-9904-1930-04858-2 .
  2. Longley, W. R. (1930). "Review of Elementary Differential Equations by Thornton C. Fry". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 36 (3): 173–174. doi: 10.1090/S0002-9904-1930-04918-6 .
  3. Fry, Thornton Carle (1913). A contact transformation. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  4. Thornton Carle Fry at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  5. Fry, Thornton Carle (1921). The Application of Modern Theories of Integration to the Solution of Differential Equations. University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  6. Firor, John; Trimble, Virginia (1997). "Obituary. Thornton Carl (sic) Fry, 1892–1991s". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 29 (4): 1470–1471. Bibcode:1997BAAS...29.1470F. This obituary and several other sources have the name "Thornton Carl Fry" instead of the correct "Thornton Carle Fry".
  7. Fry, T. C. "The use of the integraph in the practical solution of differential equations by Picard's method of successive approximations". In: Proc. Intern. Mathematical Congress held in Toronto, 1924. vol. 2. pp. 407–428. (See integraph.)
  8. Price, G. Baley. "Award for distinguished Service to Dr. Thornton Carl (sic) Fry". American Mathematical Monthly. 89 (2): 81–83. doi:10.1080/00029890.1982.11995388.