MAA Writing Awards
The Evolution of the Normal Distribution
Year of Award: 2007
Award: Carl B. Allendoerfer
Publication Information: Mathematics Magazine, vol. 79, (2006), pp. 96-113
Summary: The history of the invention of the curve as a tool for computing probabilities and the recognition of its utility in describing data sets.
About the Author: Saul Stahl was born in 1942 in Antwerp, Belgium. He received his B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1963, his M.A. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1966, and his Ph. D. from Western Michigan University in 1975. He served in the Peace Corps in Nepal, worked as a systems programmer for IBM in Endicott, NY and also as a postdoctorate fellow at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. He joined the faculty of the University of Kansas in 1977 where he is now a Professor of Mathematics. Most of his research was done in the area of graph theory. He has written six textbooks at the junior-senior level whose exposition is very much informed by the evolution of their respective subject matters. Saul’s current hobby is the Tango Argentino. His concern with the center of gravity of the dancers fits in nicely with his current research on the center of mass in hyperbolic geometry.