James Joseph Sylvester

James Joseph Sylvester (* September 3, 1814 in London, † March 15, 1897 ) was a British mathematician.

Sylvester studied in 1831 at St John's College, Cambridge, in 1837 Professor of Physics at University College London and in 1840 professor of mathematics at the University of Virginia and one of the first famous mathematician in the United States. Later he returned to England and in 1855 professor of mathematics at the Royal Military Academy Woolwich. From 1870 he was a professor at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, then went back to England and was a professor at Oxford in 1883.

He invented several geometrical instruments, such as the Plagiographen ( Schiefantograph ) and the geometric subjects. He also conducted research together with Arthur Cayley in the field of invariant theory. Another area was the theory of matrices and determinants. The term matrix was introduced in 1850 by Sylvester, as well as the inertia of Sylvester's theorem is named after him.

He proved, among others, the following sentence:

The Sylvester Medal of the Royal Society is named in his honor.


  • Henry Frederick Baker (Editor): The Collected Mathematical Papers of James Joseph Sylvester, 4 volumes, Cambridge, 1904-1912
  • Theory of Reciprozienten, 1885; an important work for the algebra
  • Chemistry and Algebra, 1878; Here he introduces the term graph for a representation in chemistry