Ralph P. Boas Jr.

American mathematician

Ralph Philip Boas Jr. (August 8, 1912 – July 25, 1992) was an American mathematician, noteworthy for his expository writing in mathematics.


  • The predecessors of Newton and Leibnitz knew perfectly well how to determine tangents and areas, but they had to approach each problem from first principles. The great contribution of Newton and Leibnitz was precisely to make the procedures for finding tangents, areas, etc. into a calculus, that is, a systematic way of calculating—a collection of algorithms, to use the currently fashionable word.
    • (1971). "Calculus as an Experimental Science". The American Mathematical Monthly 78 (6): 664–667. DOI:10.2307/2316582.
  • Suppose you want to teach the "cat" concept to a very young child. Do you explain that a cat is a relatively small, primarily carnivorous mammal with retractible claws, a distinctive sonic output, etc.? I'll bet not. You probably show the kid a lot of different cats, saying "kitty" each time, until it gets the idea. To put it more generally, generalizations are best made by abstraction from experience. They should come one at a time; too many at once overload the circuits.
    • (1981). "Can We Make Mathematics Intelligible?". The American Mathematical Monthly 88 (10): 727–731. DOI:10.2307/2321471.

Quotes about Boas

Wikipedia has an article about: