Mary L. Boas


Mary L. Boas
Born(1917-03-10)March 10, 1917
DiedFebruary 17, 2010(2010-02-17) (aged 92)
Alma materUniversity of Washington
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
OccupationMathematician and physicist
EmployerDePaul University
Known forAuthor of Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences
Spouse(s)Ralph P. Boas, Jr.
ChildrenHarold P. Boas

Mary Layne Boas (1917–2010) was an American mathematician and physics professor[2] best known as the author of Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences[3] (1966), an undergraduate textbook that was still widely used in college classrooms as of 1999.[4]

Education and career

She received a bachelor's degree (1938) and a master's degree (1940) in mathematics at the University of Washington, and a Ph.D. (1948) in physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]

She taught physics at DePaul University in Chicago for thirty years, retiring in 1987 to return to Washington.[1] Prior to her time at DePaul University, she served as an instructor in the mathematics department at Duke University.


In 2005, at the age of 88, Boas published the third edition of her textbook.[3] She established the Mary L. Boas Endowed Scholarship at the University of Washington in 2008 to recognize outstanding academic achievements by female students in physics.[5]

Personal life

Mary Boas was married to mathematician Ralph P. Boas, Jr. Her son, Harold P. Boas, is also a noted mathematician. She died on February 17, 2010, at her home near Seattle, Washington.


  1. ^ a b c "Mary Elizabeth Layne Boas's obituary in The Seattle Times". The Seattle Times. 2010-02-20.
  2. ^ DePaul Department of Physics Archived 2010-06-19 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ a b Boas, Mary (2005-07-22). Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences, 3rd Edition. ISBN 978-0-471-19826-0.
  4. ^ Spector, Donald (1999). "Book Reviews". American Journal of Physics. 67 (2): 165–169. Bibcode:1999AmJPh..67..165R. doi:10.1119/1.19216.
  5. ^ "Univ. Wash. Department of Physics awards". Archived from the original on 2012-04-28. Retrieved 2010-06-07.

Further reading

  • Boas, Sherry (7 March 2010). "An exceptional mother-in-law beat the 'meddling' stereotype". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved 9 June 2010.