May 10, 1904–June 1, 1989
BY LEONARD D.BERKOVITZ AND WENDELL H.FLEMING
DURING HIS LONG CAREER Edward James McShane made significant contributions to the calculus of variations, integration theory, stochastic calculus, and exterior ballistics. In addition, he served as a national leader in mathematical and science policy matters and in efforts to improve the undergraduate mathematical curriculum.
McShane was born in New Orleans on May 10, 1904, and grew up there. His father, Augustus, was a medical doctor and his mother, Harriet, a former schoolteacher. He graduated from Tulane University in 1925, receiving simultaneously bachelor of engineering and bachelor of science degrees, as well as election to Phi Beta Kappa. He turned down an offer from General Electric and instead continued as a student instructor of mathematics at Tulane, receiving a master’s degree in 1927.
In the summer of 1927 McShane entered graduate school at the University of Chicago, from which he received his Ph.D. in 1930 under the supervision of Gilbert Ames Bliss. He interrupted his studies during 1928–29 for financial reasons to teach at the University of Wichita. It was at Chicago that McShane’s long-standing interest in the calculus of variations began. From 1930 to 1932 he held a National Research Council Fellowship, spent at Princeton, Ohio State,