Encyclopedia Brunoniana

Adams, Clarence Raymond

C(larence) Raymond Adams (1898-1965), professor of mathematics, was born on April 10, 1898, which was Easter Sunday, in Cranston, Rhode Island, his exact place of birth being the Rhode Island Training School for Boys (Sockanosset) where his father was employed as an engineer. After graduation from Cranston High School and a summer spent as night watchman at the reform school where he was born, Adams entered Brown University in the fall of 1915, expecting to major in economics with a business career in mind. His interest was diverted to mathematics through the influence of Professor Raymond Clare Archibald. He was able by accelerating his studies to graduate in 1918, and delivered a commencement address entitled “The Mathematical Concept of Infinity.” He was encouraged by Professor R. G. D. Richardson to do graduate work at Harvard and received his Ph.D. in 1922 for his thesis on partial difference equations, written under the direction of G. D. Birkhoff. As a Sheffield Traveling Fellow of Harvard University he studied at the University of Rome under T. Levi-Civita and at the University of Göttingen under R. Courant. In 1923 he returned to Brown as instructor in mathematics and never left again until his retirement in 1965. During his tenure as chairman of the Department of Mathematics from 1942 to 1960, a number of fine scholars were added to the department. He was, of course, occasionally absent from Brown, traveling for business or pleasure, and he once responded to a class reunion questionnaire which asked the high and low spots of his life: “High spot – Pike’s Peak, 1934, 14,108 feet. Low spot – Death Valley – 280 feet, sunk to this level in 1940.” He died on October 15, 1965.