Howard Levi

Not to be confused with Howard Levy.
Howard Levi
Born November 9, 1916
New York City
Died September 11, 2002(2002-09-11) (aged 85)
New York City
Nationality American
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Columbia University
City University of New York
Alma mater Columbia University
Doctoral advisor Joseph Fels Ritt
Known for Levi's reduction process

Howard Levi (November 9, 1916, New York City – September 11, 2002, New York City) was an American mathematician who worked mainly in algebra and mathematical education.[1] Levi was very active during the educational reforms in the United States, having proposed several new courses to replace the traditional ones.


Levi earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University in 1942 as a student of Joseph Fels Ritt.[2] Soon after obtaining his degree, he became a researcher on the Manhattan Project.[3][4]

At Wesleyan University he led a group that developed a course of geometry for high school students that treated Euclidean geometry as a special case of affine geometry.[5][6] Much of the Wesleyan material was based on his book Foundations of Geometry and Trigonometry.[7]

His book Polynomials, Power Series, and Calculus, written to be a textbook for a first course in calculus,[8] presented an innovative approach, and received favorable reviews by Leonard Gillman, who wrote "[...] this book, with its wealth of imaginative ideas, deserves to be better known."[9][10]

Levi's reduction process is named after him.[11]

In his last years, he tried to find a proof of the four color theorem that did not rely on computers.[3]

Selected publications



Expository writing


  1. Notices of the AMS, June/July 2003, Volume 50, Number 6, p. 705.
  2. Howard Levi at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. 1 2 Melvin FittingThe Four Color Theorem
  4. For some details, consult: Mildred Goldberg – Personal recollections of Mildred Goldberg, secretary to the theoretical group, SAM Laboratories, The Manhattan Project; 1943-1946 (Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History).
  5. Sinclair, Nathalie (2008). The History of the Geometry Curriculum in the United States. IAP. p. 64. ISBN 978-1-59311-697-2.
  6. Sitomer, H. – Coordinate geometry with an affine approach, Mathematics Teacher 57 (1964), 404–405.
  7. C. Ray Wylie, An Affine Approach to Euclidean Geometry (p. 237 from the PDF document, p. 231 from the document itself)
  8. Levi, Howard — An Experimental Course in Analysis for College Freshmen
  9. Gillman, Leonard (1993). "An Axiomatic Approach to the Integral" (PDF). The American Mathematical Monthly. 100 (1): 16–25. doi:10.2307/2324809.
  10. Gillman, Leonard (1974). "Review: Polynomials, Power Series, and Calculus by Howard Levi". The American Mathematical Monthly. 81 (5): 532–533. doi:10.2307/2318616. JSTOR 2318616.
  11. Mead, D. G. (December 1973). "The Equation of Ramanujan-Nagell and [y2]" (PDF). Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. 41 (2): 333–341. doi:10.2307/2039090.
  12. Halmos, Paul R. (1955). "Review: Elements of algebra by Howard Levi". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. 61 (3): 245–247. doi:10.1090/S0002-9904-1955-09905-1.
  13. Lott, Fred W. (1955). "Review: Elements of algebra by Howard Levi". The Mathematics Teacher. 48 (5): 353–354. doi:10.2307/27954922. JSTOR 27954922.
  14. Lee, Herbert L. (1955). "Review: Elements of algebra by Howard Levi". The Scientific Monthly. 80 (6): 387. doi:10.2307/21575. JSTOR 21575.
  15. Rajaratnam, Nageswari (1960). "Review: Elements of algebra by Howard Levi". The Mathematics Teacher. 53 (7): 585–586. doi:10.2307/27956256. JSTOR 27956256.
  16. Dickson, Douglas G. (1962). "Review: Foundations of Geometry and Trigonometry by Howard Levi". Science Magazine. 137 (3533): 846–847. doi:10.1126/science.137.3533.846-d.
  17. Bezuszka, S. J. (1965). "Review: Foundations of Geometry and Trigonometry by Howard Levi". The American Mathematical Monthly. 72 (5): 565. doi:10.2307/2314158. JSTOR 2314158.
  18. Chakerian, G. D. (1969). "Review: Topics in Geometry by Howard Levi". The American Mathematical Monthly. 76 (8): 962. doi:10.2307/2317992. JSTOR 2317992.
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