Gilbert Ames Bliss was a mathematician and educator
known for his work on the calculus of variations.
He received his
B.S. degree in 1897 from the University of Chicago and remained to study
mathematical astronomy under F.R. Moulton. He received his M.S. degree in
1898 and two years later his doctorate. Dr. Bliss immediately went into
teaching as an assistant professor of mathematics at the University of
Minnesota from 1900 to 1902, followed by a two-year assistantship at the
University of Chicago, a year at the University of Missouri, and three
years (1905–1908) as preceptor at Princeton University—a period in
which he also served as an editor of the Annals of Mathematics. In
1908 Bliss returned to the faculty at the University of Chicago as an
associate professor; he was named professor five years later. He became
department chairman in 1927 and served until his retirement in 1941.
Bliss applied his knowledge of calculus to the field of
ballistics during the latter days of World War I, when he designed an
improved set of firing tables for artillery. His book Mathematics for
Exterior Ballistics (1944) was based on this work. His research in
algebraic functions led to his paper “Algebraic Functions
and Their Divisors,” and Bliss expanded on this work in his book Algebraic
Functions (1933). Bliss's extensive study of the calculations of
extreme values of an integral or function culminated in 1946 in his major
work, Lectures on the Calculus of Variations. Bliss served as
president of the American Mathematical Society from 1921 to 1922.