LION HUNTING AND OTHER
MATHEMATICAL PURSUITS

A COLLECTION OF MATHEMATICS,
VERSE, AND STORIES BY

RALPH P. BOAS, JR.

Introduction

Occasionally over the course of time, a person with the ability to do high quality research in mathematics also stands out in other ways, contributing to mathematics and the mathematical community in many areas. Ralph Philip Boas, Jr., was such a person: mathematician, author, editor, teacher, and administrator. This collection of his work represents an assortment of many of his lighter mathematical papers along with verse, stories, anecdotes, and recollections. In addition to highlighting his many different abilities, we hope that this volume will stimulate the reader in the way in which RPB intended to stimulate the readers of his articles when they were first published. The mathematics remains fresh and the comments on teaching are as cogent today as when he wrote them. The recollections and anecdotes included here, with a few exceptions, have not appeared in print before. These will provide the reader with a personal glimpse into the life of a mathematician who moved in the circles of the great mathematicians and scientists of his day, such as G. H. Hardy and many others. The stories have tantalizing depth and the verses offer imaginative and insightful views of many aspects of the life of a mathematician.

This volume, then, is by no means a complete set of collected works of Boas, but a collection aimed at the lighter side, both stimulating the reader with accessible mathematics or mathematical methods in teaching as well as offering a view of the development and experiences of an important figure in the mathematical community of the recent past. Some readers may notice that a few of their favorite Boas articles are missing; we have tried to avoid reprinting pieces that appear in other MAA collections.

The organization of this book begins with a glimpse of RPB's personal history and some comments on his life by some who knew him well. Next, there is a section devoted to the legendary piece on the "mathematics of lion hunting" and here we have chosen to include several contributions by other authors who were inspired by the original article. Sections that follow include some devoted to a particular mathematical topic, interspersed with others that contain anecdotes and verse. The order in which verse and anecdotes are presented reflects our aim to draw together either similar topics or events from a particular time or place. Although we have labeled one section with the title "Literature," we have chosen to include short stories in other sections in which they seemed more appropriate, such as the story "The Rose Acacia" in the section on infinite series.

The bibliography at the end of this collection is intended to be a complete listing of RPB's mathematical articles and books, although many reviews (including hundreds in Mathematical Reviews) as well as other types of writings are not included in this list. The reminiscences of Boas were either solicited by us or offered to us and we gratefully acknowledge these contributions.

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