Jesse Douglas (July 3 1897 - October 7 1965) was an American mathematician. He was born in New York and attended Columbia College from 1920-1924. Douglas was one of two winners of the first Fields Medals, awarded in 1936. He was honored for solving, in 1930, the problem of Plateau, which asks whether a minimal surface exists for a given boundary. The problem, open since 1760 when Lagrange raised it, is considered part of the calculus of variations and is also know as the soap bubble problem. The American Mathematical Society awarded him the Bôcher Prize in 1943.
Douglas later became a full professor at the City College of New York (CCNY), where he taught until his death. At the time CCNY only offered undergraduate degrees and Professor Douglas taught the advanced calculus course. Sophomores (and freshmen with advanced placement) were privileged to get their introduction to real analysis from a Fields medalist.
- Solution of the problem of Plateau.Trans. Amer. Math. Soc. 33 (1931), no. 1, 263--321.
- Green's function and the problem of Plateau, American Journal of Mathematics, volume 61 (1939), pp. 545-589
- The most general form of the problem of Plateau, American Journal of Mathematics, volume 61(1939), pp. 590-608
- Solution of the inverse problem of the calculus of variations, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, volume 25 (1939), pp. 631-637.
- The Problem of Plateau - A tribute to Jesse Douglas and Tibor Rado', (River Edge, NJ, 1992).
- M. Struwe: Plateau's Problem and the Calculus of Variations, ISBN 0691085102
- R. Bonnett and A. T. Fomenko: The Plateau Problem (Studies in the Development of Modern Mathematics), ISBN 2881247024
- M. Giaquinta and S. Hildebrandt: "Calculus of Variations", Volumes I and II, Springer Verlag
- Biography in Dictionary of Scientific Biography (New York 1970-1990)
- Biography in Encyclopaedia Britannica (Aug. 2003)