Abraham Adrian Albert (November 9, 1905 – June 6, 1972) was a mathematician of Russian ancestry. A first generation American, he was born in Chicago and most associated with that city. He received his BS in 1926, Master's in 1927, and PhD in 1928(at the age of 22), all from the University of Chicago. Around this time he got married.
He spent his postdoctoral year at Princeton University and then from 1929 to 1931 he was an instructor at Columbia University. During this period he worked on Riemann matrices and algebras. He returned to Princeton for the opening year of the Institute for Advanced Study in 1933-34 and spent another year in Princeton in 1961-62 as the first Director of the Communications Division of IDA (the Institute for Defense Analyses).
From 1931 to 1972, he served on the mathematics faculty at the University of Chicago, where he became chair of the Mathematics Department in 1958 and Dean of the Physical Sciences Division in 1961.
As a research mathematician, he is primarily known for his work as one of the principal developers of the theory of linear associative algebras and as a pioneer in the development of linear non-associative algebras. In 1939, he received the American Mathematical Society's Cole Prize in Algebra for his work on Riemann matrices. He is best known for his work on the Albert-Brauer-Hasse-Noether theorem on finite-dimensional division algebras over number fields and as the developer of Albert algebras, which are also known as exceptional Jordan algebras.
As an applied mathematician, he also did work for the military during World War II and thereafter. One of his most notable achievements was his groundbreaking work on cryptography. The theory that developed from this work can be seen in spread spectrum cell phone technology.
After WWII, he became a forceful advocate favoring government support for research in mathematics on a par with other physical sciences. He served on policy-making bodies at the Office of Naval Research, the National Research Council, and the National Science Foundation that funneled research grants into mathematics, giving many young mathematicians career opportunities previously unavailable. Due to his success in helping to give mathematical research a sound financial footing, he earned a reputation as a "statesman for mathematics."