(August 16, 1821 – January 26, 1895)
Regarding British mathematical greatness, Arthur Cayley is second only to Isaac Newton. Despite graduating as Cambridge’s (1842) Senior Wrangler and winning the Smith’s Prize, he curtailed his fellowship-tenure in order to study law. But after a decade-and-a-half in lucrative law practice, he switched back to academics: serving as the inaugural Sadleirian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge (from 1863 until he died in 1895). But long before ditching his legal gown and wig, Arthur Cayley published about 300 math treatises which helped consolidate his position as one of the most prolific mathematicians. His entire publications were estimated to be around 900, if letters and short notes are included. Majority of these were in algebra and geometry. He pioneered the Theory of Matrices, in addition to advancing Évariste Galois’ Group Theory. He also improved upon some works of Niels Henrik Abel, William Rowan Hamilton, and Julius Pluecker. Alongside Bernhard Riemann and Ludwig Schlaefli, he was an architect of multidimensional geometry. His exploits in Projective Geometry, Elliptic Functions, and Combinatorics earned him reputation as both an original thinker and an outstanding algorist. Today, additional reverence is accorded Arthur Cayley and others like James Joseph Sylvester, for their early support for women’s tertiary education. He also supported Sylvester when leading British and American universities discriminated against him due to his Jewish background. His achievements earned him various awards. Several concepts and theorems, including: Cayley Transform and Cayley Theorem, were named after him. He is also the eponym of the 16755 Cayley asteroid and the 14-kilometer-wide Cayley lunar crater.