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Marston Morse in 1965 (courtesy MFO)

Marston Morse (born Harold Calvin Marston Morse; born 24 March, 1892 – 22 June, 1977) was an American mathematician best known for his work on the calculus of variations in the large, a subject where he introduced the technique of differential topology now known as Morse theory. In 1933 he was awarded the Bôcher Memorial Prize for his work in mathematical analysis.

He was born in Waterville, Maine to Ella Phoebe Marston and Howard Calvin Morse in 1892. He received his bachelor's degree from Colby College (also in Waterville) in 1914. At Harvard University, he received both his master's degree in 1915 and his Ph.D. in 1917.

He taught at Harvard, Brown, and Cornell Universities before accepting a position in 1935 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where he remained until his retirement in 1962.

He spent most of his career on a single subject, eponymously titled Morse Theory, a branch of differential topology. Morse Theory is a very important subject in modern mathematical physics, such as string theory.

Quotes

"Mathematics are the result of mysterious powers which no one understands, and which the unconscious recognition of beauty must play an important part. Out of an infinity of designs a mathematician chooses one pattern for beauty's sake and pulls it down to earth."

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