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Henry Lewis Rietz, 1924 MAA President

Born: August 24, 1875, Gilmore, Ohio
Died: December 7, 1943, Iowa City, Iowa

Henry Lewis Rietz was a mathematics professor at the University of Iowa and an early researcher and leader in statistics.

Presidency: 1924

In 1924, the American Mathematical Monthly published advertisements for Rietz's books Handbook of Mathematics and Statistics (which included three chapters by former president E.V. Huntington), Mathematics of Finance, and Introductory College Algebra.

During Rietz's presidency, he and Huntington served on a committee of mathematicians "to examine critically certain statistical methods used in the investigations of" the Commission on New Types of Examination of the College Entrance Examination Board.

Education and Career

1899 Ohio State University, B.S.
1902 Cornell University, Ph.D., advised by G.A. Miller

Rietz was an instructor and professor at the University of Illinois from 1903 to 1918. From Illinois he moved to the University of Iowa as professor and head of the mathematics department in 1918. He held both positions until he retired in September 1943. At the same time, he worked as an actuary and consultant for several organizations.

Rietz published more than 150 papers and at least eleven books. His book Mathematical Statistics was a Carus Mathematical Monograph.

Rietz was largely responsible for the founding of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics and served as its first president (1935-37). He was also vice president of the American Institute of Actuaries (1919, now part of the Society of Actuaries), vice president of the American Statistical Association (1925), vice president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1929), vice president of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) (1930), and president of the Iowa Academy of Sciences (1930). He edited the Bulletin of the AMS and the Transactions of the AMS.

The University of Iowa Department of Statistics and Actuarial Science presents the Henry L. Rietz Award to Ph.D. students with truly outstanding performance on the Ph.D. Final (Comprehensive) Exam. A portrait of Rietz is on display at the University of Iowa.

External Resources

National Mathematics Magazine obituary

Annals of Mathematical Statistics obituary

Journal of the American Statistical Association obituary

"On the History of Statistics and Actuarial Science at The University of Iowa"

"On the Origins of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics"

The Mathematics Genealogy Project

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