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Edward Kasner
PSM V70 D187 Edward Kasner.jpg
Photograph of Kasner dated 1907.
Born (1878-04-02)April 2, 1878
New York City, United States
Died January 7, 1955(1955-01-07) (aged 76)
New York City, United States
Nationality American
Alma mater City College of New York (BA)
Columbia University (MA, PhD)
Known for Kasner metric
Kasner polygon
Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Columbia University
Doctoral advisor Felix Klein
David Hilbert
Doctoral students Rufus Isaacs
Joseph Ritt
Jesse Douglas
Edna Kramer

Edward Kasner (April 2, 1878 – January 7, 1955) was an American mathematician who was appointed Tutor on Mathematics in the Columbia University Mathematics Department. Kasner was the first Jewish person appointed to a faculty position in the sciences at Columbia University. Subsequently, he became an adjunct professor in 1906, and a full professor in 1910, at the university. Differential geometry was his main field of study. In addition to introducing the term "googol", he is known also for the Kasner metric and the Kasner polygon.


Kasner's 1899 PhD dissertation at Columbia University was titled The Invariant Theory of the Inversion Group: Geometry upon a Quadric Surface; it was published by the American Mathematical Society in 1900 in their Transactions.

Googol and googolplex

Kasner is perhaps best remembered today for introducing the term "googol." In order to pique the interest of children, Kasner sought a name for a very large number: one followed by 100 zeros. On a walk in the New Jersey Palisades with his nephews, Milton (1911–1981) and Edwin Sirotta, Kasner asked for their ideas. Nine-year-old Milton suggested "googol".

In 1940, with James R. Newman, Kasner co-wrote a non-technical book surveying the field of mathematics, called Mathematics and the Imagination (ISBN: 0-486-41703-4).

The Internet search engine "Google" originated from a misspelling of "googol", and the "Googleplex" (the Google company headquarters in Mountain View, California) is similarly derived from googolplex.

Personal life

Kasner was Jewish and was the son of Austrian immigrants.


  • Kasner, E. (1900). "The Invariant Theory of the Inversion Group: Geometry Upon a Quadric Surface". Transactions of the American Mathematical Society 1 (4): 430–498. doi:10.1090/S0002-9947-1900-1500550-1.
  • Kasner, Edward (1980). "Differential-geometric aspects of dynamics". In C. Carpelan. The Logarithmic potential and other monographs. New York: Chelsea. pp. 235–263. ISBN 0-8284-0305-8.
  • Kasner, Edward; Newman, James R. (April 2001). Mathematics and the Imagination. Dover Pubns. ISBN 0-486-41703-4.
  • Edward Kasner and James R. Newman, Mathematics and the Imagination, Tempus Books of Microsoft Press, 1989. ISBN: 1-55615-104-7
  • Kasner, Edward (July 1914). "The Ratio of the Arc to the Chord of an Analytic Curve Need Not Be Unity". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society 20 (10): 524–31. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1914-02545-5.
  • Kasner, Edward (1921). "Geometrical theorems on Einstein's cosmological equations". Amer. J. Math. (The Johns Hopkins University Press) 43 (4): 217–221. doi:10.2307/2370192.

See also

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