William A. McWorter



Ph.D. Ohio State University 1963
thesis:Phi Algebras; Advisor: Alexander Abian

personal or universal URL:

[ed. note: I include the material below against the wishes of Dr. McWorter. Indeed, he refused to give me requested data until I proved, to him, my philosophical purity. After six weeks and many electronic exchanges, I decided I could spend my energy more profitably elsewhere.]

The quotes below come from William McWorter's e-communications with me:

"Yes, I am that american, who happens to be black. Your site is important but I am troubled that you "honor" everyone listed. I do not deserve to be honored. Yes, I have done research which has been published. But it is not of sufficient quality that honor is appropriate. A black invented the street light and another black invented the golf tee. It is ridiculous to honor them."

McWorter's undergraduate performance was pitiful, he finished with a 2.1 average (2.6 in mathematics) and, as no University would accept such poor perfromance, he begged his way into grad school, where he flowered. Before earning his Ph.D. (probably around 1962), Dr. McWorter had published 3 papers.

"Nearing graduation with a phd, I received over 24 job offers (perhaps because of affirmative action. My white buddies had trouble finding positions.), even though I had written no applications to any university. I accepted an offer from the University of British Columbia because they had world famous people in my field (group theory) and a friend had prevailed upon the university to make me an offer... I begged to return to Ohio State but was rebuffed until [the great algebraist] Hans Zassenhaus stepped in on my behalf ... Blacks must realise that we cannot succeed without hard work and dedication, affirmative action or no."

However, in just a few more years he threw away an active career at mathematics for doing nothing except teaching a few elementary courses.

[ed. note: Dr. McWorter is strongly opposed to Affirmative Action. He calls it "racism." Certainly, there was no such thing as Affirmative Action during the early periods of McWorter's career. However, all that I am familiar with hiring at the time (and have learned from individuals present at O.S.U. near that time) makes it clear that some form of Affirmative Action was helping Dr. McWorter. It is my hope that is opposition is not a reflection of his opinion of himself.]



Currently, Dr. McWorter is a retired Associate Professor emeritus of Ohio State University. Ohio State publishes mcworter@math.ohio-state.edu as his email address. But a search of the web yields the address mcworter@midohio.net

Before contact with Professor McWorter, I observed that a search of the world wide web revealed contributions, solutions to and applications of the marriage theorem. Here are some links:

McWorter marriage theorem
Pigeon Hole Principle I
Pigeon Hole Principle II
Fractal Integers

He has published a book with Jane Morrill Tazelaar Creating Fractals , (1987) and he has published six research papers:

(with Alexander Abian,), On the index of nilpotency of some nil algebras ,Boll. Un. Mat. Ital. (3) 18 (1963), 252--255.

On a theorem of Mann , Amer. Math. Monthly 71 (1964), 285--286.

(with Abian, Alexander), On the structure of pre-$p$-rings , Amer. Math. Monthly 71 (1964), 155--157.

Some simple properties of simple nil rings , Canad. Math. Bull. 9 (1966), 197--200.

(with Eugene V. Martin), Finite sequences of group elements and their relation to the existence, order, and index of subgroups , Illinois J. Math. 11 (1967), 660--662.

(with Surinder K. Sehgal), Normal complements of Carter subgroups , Illinois J. Math. 12 (1968), 510--512.

Dr. McWorter described to me his chief additions to mathematics as "the death of determinants in linear algebra in." To understand this, I include a fragment of Dr. McWorter's 8/30/98 letter to me.

You may recall that all students of elementary linear algebra were taught to find the eigenvalues of a square matrix A by computing the determinant of aI-A, where a is a variable scalar. Although I knew nothing of past work on the subject, I merely expanded on an observation of the russian mathematician Krylov and showed that eigenvalues can be computed in an elementary way without the determinant. I published my observations in 1983 in Mathematics Magazine. A friend, and sadly a colleague who died before he could finish his paper, showed that my work could be extended to obtain a basis for A consisting of generalized eigenvectors. I edited portions of his paper and published it in Mathematics Magazine. It appeared in 1997. My name appears as a coauthor only because my friend insisted on it, because, although the ideas it contains are his, I am responsible for the proofs.

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