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W. W. Rouse Ball

English mathematician
The basics
Occupation Mathematician Historian of mathematics Lawyer Stage magician Educator
Country United Kingdom
AKA Walter William Rouse Ball, Walter Ball
Date of birth Hampstead, London Borough of Camden, Greater London, London
Date of death Apr 04, 1925 Cambridge, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire (county council area), Cambridgeshire
Education University College London, Trinity College
Authority VIAF id Library of congress id Openlibrary id ISNI id
The details

Walter William Rouse Ball, known as W. W. Rouse Ball (; 14 August 1850 – 4 April 1925), was a British mathematician, lawyer, and fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge from 1878 to 1905. He was also a keen amateur magician, and the founding president of the Cambridge Pentacle Club in 1919, one of the world's oldest magic societies.


Ball was the son and heir of Walter Frederick Ball, of 3, St John's Park Villas, South Hampstead, London. Educated at University College School, he entered Trinity College, Cambridge in 1870, became a scholar and first Smith's Prizeman, and gained his BA in 1874 as second Wrangler. He became a Fellow of Trinity in 1875, and remained one for the rest of his life.

He is buried at the Parish of the Ascension Burial Ground in Cambridge.

He is commemorated in the naming of the small pavilion, now used as changing rooms and toilets, on Jesus Green in Cambridge.


  • A History of the Study of Mathematics at Cambridge; Cambridge University Press, 1889 (reissued by the publisher, 2009, ISBN 978-1-108-00207-3)
  • Cambridge Papers at Project Gutenberg (1st ed. 1918). Macmillan and Co., Limited 1918: [2].
  • String Figures; Cambridge, W. Heffer & Sons (1st ed. 1920, 2nd ed. 1921, 3rd ed. 1929, reprinted with supplements as Fun with String Figures by Dover Publications, 1971, ISBN 0-486-22809-6)
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