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George F. Carrier: Wikis


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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

George Francis Carrier (1918 – March 8, 2002) was a mathematician and the T. Jefferson Coolidge Professor of Applied Mathematics Emeritus of Harvard University. He was particularly noted for his ability to intuitively model a physical system and then deduce an analytical solution. He worked especially in the modeling of fluid mechanics, combustion, and tsunamis.

He received a master's in engineering degree in 1939 and a Ph.D. in 1944, from Cornell University. He was co-author of a number of mathematical textbooks and over 100 journal papers.

In 1990, he received the National Medal of Science, the United States' highest scientific award, presented by President Bush, for his contributions to the natural sciences.

Carrier's Rule

Carrier is known for "Carrier's Rule",[1] a humorous explanation of why divergent asymptotic series often yield good approximations if the first few terms are taken even when the expansion parameter is of order one, while in the case of a convergent series many terms are needed to get a good approximation: “Divergent series converge faster than convergent series because they don't have to converge.”


  1. ^ J. P. Boyd, The Devil's Invention: Asymptotic, Superasymptotic and Hyperasymptotic Series, Acta Applicandae Mathematicae: An International Survey Journal on Applying Mathematics and Mathematical Applications 56, 1-98 (1999) PDF of preprint

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