He was born in Widnes, Lancashire, England, and educated at Monkton Combe School in Somerset and Clare College, Cambridge, graduating BA as 10th Wrangler in 1895. He is known for his work in the area of group theory. Both Young diagrams and Young tableaux (which he introduced in 1900) are named after him.
Young was appointed to the position of lecturer at Selwyn College, Cambridge, in 1901, transferring to Clare College in 1905. In 1902 he collaborated with John Hilton Grace on the book The Algebra of Invariants.
In 1907 he married Edith Clara née Wilson. In 1908 he became an ordained clergyman, and in 1910 became parish priest at Birdbrook in Essex, a village 25 miles east of Cambridge. He lived there for the rest of his life, but in 1926 began lecturing once again at Cambridge.
Young's ideas have had a significant impact on: (1) group representation theory, (2) combinatorics and statistics, (3) invariant theory, (4) physics and (5) chemistry. These topics intertwine sufficiently that a single result may have implications in more than one area.
- Turnbull, H. W. (1941). "Alfred Young. 1873-1940". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 3 (10): 760–778. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1941.0033.
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Alfred Young", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- "Young, Alfred (YN892A)". A Cambridge Alumni Database. University of Cambridge.
- Andrews, George E. (1979). "Book Review: The collected papers of Alfred Young". Bulletin of the American Mathematical Society. 1 (6): 989–997. doi:10.1090/S0273-0979-1979-14710-4. ISSN 0273-0979. (quote from p. 990)