John Charles Fields | The Canadian Encyclopedia


John Charles Fields

John Charles Fields, mathematician (born 14 May 1863 in Hamilton, ON; died 9 August 1932 in Toronto). Fields was an advocate for scholarly and scientific research. He was responsible for the 1924 International Mathematical Congress in Toronto. He also established the Fields Medal, which is awarded every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians. (See also Mathematics; Mathematics and Society).


John Charles Fields was a mathematician. He was educated at the University of Toronto where he received his Bachelor of Arts in1884. He completed his PhD at Johns Hopkins University in 1887. Fields taught mathematics for four years at Allegheny College in Pennsylvania. In 1892 he resigned from his teaching position to further pursue his studies in Paris, Göttingen and Berlin. On his return to Toronto in 1902, he was appointed lecturer in the mathematics department at the University of Toronto, becoming Research Professor of Mathematics in 1923.


John Charles Fields was an ardent campaigner for both business and state support for scientific research, taking his message to the Canadian Manufacturers' Association and boards of trade. He was active in the creation of the School of Graduate Studies at the University of Toronto, and the Ontario Research Foundation.

Fields was also instrumental in arranging the 1924 meeting of the International Mathematical Congress. As President of the Royal Canadian Institute (1919-1925) and Chairman of the Organizing Committee, Fields hosted and presided the Congress at the University of Toronto. With funds left from organizing the meeting, he attempted to establish a mathematics prize to be awarded at future meetings of the International Congress of Mathematicians. These efforts resulted in the Fields Medal, which was named in his honour and first awarded in 1936.

Fields Medal

Memberships and Academic Affiliations

Fields was elected a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1909 and the Royal Society of London in 1913. He was a member of the London Mathematical Society and a corresponding member of the Academy of Science, Russia and the Institute of Coimbra, Portugal.

Further Reading

External Links