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Floyd Williams

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Information about Floyd Williams

Profile image of Floyd Williams

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Mathematician
Math Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
March, April,, May
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

Birthplace

Born:
9/20/1939
Birth Location:
Kansas University, Missouri

Profession

Category:
ScienceMakers
EducationMakers
Occupation(s):
Mathematician
Math Professor

Favorites

Favorite Color:
Blue
Favorite Food:
Salmon
Favorite Time of Year:
March, April,, May
Favorite Vacation Spot:
None
Favorite Quote:
People don't care about how much you know until they know how much you care.

Birthplace

Born:
9/20/1939
Birth Location:
Kansas University
See how Floyd Williams is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Research professor and mathematician Floyd Leroy Williams was born on September 20, 1939 in Kansas City, Missouri. Born into and raised in an impoverished environment, his mother was a constant source of encouragement. She reminded him not to complain about their situation, but rather to maintain faith in God and always work hard. Ironically, as a high school student Williams excelled in music rather than mathematics. One week prior to graduating high school he was offered a scholarship from Lincoln University of Missouri in Jefferson City to study music. During his sophomore year, Williams was fascinated by Albert Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and eventually became fully immersed in the study of mathematics.

In 1962, Williams graduated from Lincoln University with his B.S. degree in mathematics. He went on to receive advance degrees in mathematics from Washington University in St. Louis, earning his M.S. degree and Ph.D. degree in 1965 and 1972, respectively. His doctoral thesis was in the field of Lie Theory, a particular branch of mathematics that focuses on symmetry. Williams has worked in this field for the past twenty years and recently has begun to investigate mathematical physics.

From 1972 to 1975, Williams worked as a lecturer and instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology as well as an associate instructor at the University of California-Irvine. He joined the faculty at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in 1975 as an assistant professor. In 1978, he was promoted to associate professor and since 1984 he has been a full professor. Williams was awarded a National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation grant in 1983 to continue his research.

Williams is internationally renowned for his pioneering research in Lie Theory and mathematical physics. He served as visiting professor at a number of universities across the United States and the world, including the State University of New York-Stonybrook; Sophia University in Tokyo, Japan; the State Technical University in St. Petersburg, Russia; and the Institute of Theoretical Physics in Sao Paolo, Brazil. Williams’ scholarship is prolific, and his work has appeared in scholarly journals such as Topics in Quantum Mechanics and Mathematical Methods in Physics. Since 2005, he served as Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.


Floyd L. Williams was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on 10/08/2012.

See how Floyd Williams is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Floyd Williams' interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams lists his favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams describes his mother's family background
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams talks about his family's interests in music
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his biological father
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams describes his stepfather
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his parents' personalities and who he takes after
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams talks about his siblings
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams describes his earliest childhood memories
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams describes his growing up on Ninth Street in Kansas City, Missouri
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams describes the sights, sounds and smells of growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams talks about his interests in music and his growing up
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his early education
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his involvement in the church
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his musical preferences
  • Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams describes his high school experience
  • Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Floyd Williams talks about his high school mentor, Dr. Wheeler
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about his mentor, Dr. Wheeler
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams reflects on his high school years
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about Lincoln University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams describes how Albert Einstein's theory of relativity inspired his interest in mathematics
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about his mentor, Dr. Talbert
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his experience at Washington University
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams talks about his struggles through graduate school
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams describes his dissertation
  • Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Floyd Williams talks about being hired at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 10 - Floyd Williams remembers the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and President John F. Kennedy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 11 - Floyd Williams describes his experience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Tape: 3 Story: 12 - Floyd Williams talks about cohomology theory
  • Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about his decision to join the faculty at the University of Massachusetts
  • Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams talks about his interest in music
  • Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about his professional activities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams explains Lie Theory
  • Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams describes the difference in attitudes towards STEM education in Japan and the United States
  • Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams talks about his professional activities
  • Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams describes his teaching philosophy
  • Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Floyd Williams reflects on his career
  • Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Floyd Williams talks about what led him to join the ministry
  • Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Floyd Williams talks about his hopes and concerns for the African American community
  • Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Floyd Williams talks about his family
  • Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Floyd Williams reflects upon his legacy
  • Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Floyd Williams talks about the problem with U.S. mathematical education
  • Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Floyd Williams reflects on how he would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Floyd Williams plays the piano and describes his photos