Charles Sims (1937-2017)
Charles Coffin Sims, 80, of St. Petersburg, FL, passed away October 23, 2017 at The Marion and Bernard L. Samson Nursing Center. Born and raised in Elkhart, Indiana, he attended high school in Elkhart and received his Bachelors of Science at the University of Michigan and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Harvard University. After Harvard, he taught briefly at MIT before moving to New Jersey where he spent most of his adult life, living first in Princeton and then in Allenhurst. He was a professor of mathematics at Rutgers University for 42 years and a pioneer in the field of computational group theory, influencing the careers of group theorists around the world who followed him. In addition to his many contributions to research in his field of study, he was deeply devoted to mathematics education and spent much of his time at Rutgers ensuring quality instruction for generations of students. After retirement, Charles continued to help students learn mathematics by tutoring local children in St. Petersburg. He was a devoted husband, brother, and father and active in church and church choirs throughout his life. In fact he met his wife Annette of 47 years singing in choir at Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church in Cambridge, MA. In his later years Charles and Annette made St. Petersburg their home. Together they enjoyed their community, four dogs and cat, and spending time on Tampa Bay on their boat. Charles also collaborated with his sister Mary Jean on preserving family archives. He was a modest, kind, much-loved man who left lasting impressions on everyone he met or who benefited from his academic work.
Michael Ernest O'Nan (1943-2017)
Mike was born in Fort Knox, Kentucky and was educated as an undergraduate at Stanford University and as a graduate student at Princeton University. While at Princeton he made contact with Danny Gorenstein, who became his thesis adviser.
His thesis (1969) reflected what would be a long-time interest: finite doubly-transitive permutation groups, explored with block designs and related combinatorial structures. The thesis was a characterization, among doubly transitive groups, of the three-dimensional unitary groups over finite fields. After a year or two at the University of Chicago, Mike came to Rutgers, shortly after Gorenstein did. He quickly reached the rank of full professor. Through the 1970's he was the leading figure in the world in the study of finite doubly transitive groups, bringing original and effective ideas to the effort to classify them. In a remarkable series of papers he completed the classification except for a single case--doubly transitive groups in which the stabilizer of a point is a simple group, or "almost" simple. Shortly after that the tidal wave of the classification of finite simple groups washed over the whole area and as a result, in my opinion, Mike's work has not received the long-term recognition that it deserves.
He will be remembered for his 1975 discovery of one of the sporadic finite simple groups, called the O'Nan group or the O'Nan-Sims simple group, since it was Charlie Sims, partly in collaboration with Sims's student Steve Andrilli, who proved the existence and uniqueness of the group, after Mike had predicted many properties of the group. Following the classification of simple groups, he independently proved what has come to be known as the O'Nan-Scott Theorem or Aschbacher-O'Nan-Scott Theorem. It is a taxonomy of maximal subgroups of the finite alternating and symmetric groups, and a related taxonomy of all finite primitive permutation groups. It has been widely used in finite group theory since 1980, being a tool that fits naturally with the classification of finite simple groups.
Mike was quick-witted, and widely admired and liked in the world of finite group theory. He was a generous teacher and a loyal friend. He had one Ph.D. student, Dick Stafford, of the National Security Agency. As one of his colleagues has written, his good cheer and twinkling smile radiated happiness at being in the game of life.
Myles Tierney (1937-2017)
Myles Tierney was a Rutgers faculty member for thirty-four years, coming to Rutgers as an Associate Professor in 1968 following positions at Rice University (1965-6) and at the ETH-Forschungsinstitut für Mathematik, Zürich (1966-68). He received his B.A. from Brown University in 1959 and his Ph.D. from Columbia in 1965.
Myles began his career as an algebraic topologist, moved toward category theory and was responsible (together with F.W. Lawvere) for the introduction of a new field within category theory: elementary topoi.
Myles Tierney died on October 6, 2017 having turned 80 in September.
William L. Hoyt (1928-2017)
William Lind Hoyt, age 89, passed away on Thursday, September 14, 2017, in Madison, WI. He was born Sep. 8, 1928, in Nephi, Utah, the son of the late William Lorraine Hoyt and Vivian (Petersen) Hoyt.
Bill was a graduate of the University of Utah, and earned his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1958. He taught for six years at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA, and spent the rest of his career on the math faculty at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. His research interests included algebraic geometry, elliptic surfaces, and modular forms.
Felix E. Browder (1927-2016)
Felix E. Browder, a renowned mathematics professor who completed his doctorate by age 20 and joined Rutgers as its first vice president for research in 1986, passed away on December 10, 2016, at his Princeton home. He was 89.He was currently a university professor in the School of Arts and Sciences, Rutgers University–New Brunswick. Browder received the 1999 National Medal of Science, the nation's highest science and engineering honor. But he had been tainted by the association with his father, Earl Browder, a longtime leader of the U.S. Communist Party, according to The Washington Post.During a 1953 hearing of the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities, the Post writes that a professor at MIT, where Felix Browder earned his undergraduate degree at 18, testified that the younger Browder had never joined the party and “was the best student we had ever had in mathematics in MIT in the 90 years of existence of the institution.”Browder was cited by the National Science Foundation, which administers the National Medal of Science, for pioneering mathematical work in the creation of nonlinear functional analysis and its applications to partial differential equations. He was also recognized for serving as a leader in the scientific community and expanding the range of interaction of mathematics with other disciplines. Browder had served as president of the 33,000-member American Mathematical Society.
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Abbas Bahri (1955-2016)
Our colleague Abbas Bahri passed away on January 10, 2016 after four years of heroic fight against two forms of cancer.
András Hajnal (1931-2016)We are sad to report that András Hajnal, who served as Director of DIMACS from 1994 to 1995, passed away on July 30 at the age of 85. Hajnal came to DIMACS after a 40-year career at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest, and remained at Rutgers as a professor in the Department of Mathematics until his retirement in 2004 when he returned to Hungary.
He was elected in 1982 as member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and directed its Mathematical Institute from 1982 to 1992. He served as general secretary of the János Bolyai Mathematical Society from 1980 to 1990, and president of the society from 1990 to 1994. His contributions to mathematics were recognized by prizes that include the Academy Prize in 1967, Tibor Szele medal from the János Bolyai Mathematical Society in 1980, and Middle Cross Merit Order Medal from the President of the Republic of Hungary in 2013.
Martin David Kruskal (1925-2006)
September 28, 1925 - December 26, 2006
Martin David Kruskal, one of the world's pre-eminent applied mathematicians and mathematical physicists, died on December 26, 2006, at the age of 81. He was the recipient of many honors during his lifetime, including the National Medal of Science awarded by President Clinton in 1993, the 2006 Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research and the Gibbs Lectureship, both from the American Mathematical Society, the Dannie Heineman Prize from the American Physical Society, and the Maxwell Prize from the International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics. He was awarded memberships in the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and foreign memberships in the Royal Society of London, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences.
Professor Kruskal worked at Princeton University from 1951-1989, where he initially joined the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, and was a member of both the Astrophysics and Mathematics Departments. At Princeton, he was also the founding director of the Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics. In 1989, upon becoming emeritus at Princeton, he joined the Mathematics Department at Rutgers University, where he held the David Hilbert Chair of Mathematics.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago, Professor Kruskal received his Ph.D. under Richard Courant at New York University in 1952. He started his career at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory with Project Matterhorn, then a classified project, to produce controlled thermonuclear fusion. In the 1950's, he made a number of seminal contributions including Kruskal-Shafranov Instability, Bernstein-Greene-Kruskal (BGK) Modes, and MHD Energy Principle, which laid the theoretical foundations of controlled nuclear fusion and the then undeveloped field of plasma physics. In 1960, he developed the well-known Kruskal Coordinates (also called Kruskal-Szekeres Coordinates), used in the theory of relativity to explain black holes.
He is most famous for his role in starting the "soliton revolution," considered one of the great mathematical advances of the last half of the twentieth century. In an astonishing discovery, he and Norman Zabusky found nonlinear waves that behave in many ways like linear waves, which they termed "solitons." Solitons are now known to be ubiquitous in nature, from physics to chemistry to biology. Their unique properties make them useful for communications, such as in undersea, fiber optic cables. They have even been seriously suggested as the basis for computing (soliton computers).
Professor Kruskal and his colleagues also devised an ingenious method to solve the equations underlying solitons, later called the Inverse Scattering Transform (IST), which has had a profound influence on both pure and applied mathematics. Until that time, nonlinear partial differential equations were thought to be essentially unsolvable.
Professor Kruskal's passion for research was legendary. Colleagues who worked with him understood that his day often began in the afternoon and ended when most people were having breakfast. Almost invariably, his research did not end with the proof, but continued until the subject was clarified to his complete satisfaction.
In later years, Professor Kruskal devoted himself to the study of surreal numbers, while continuing to work on nonlinear partial differential equations. He is also known among magicians for his invention of a card trick called the "Kruskal Count." Over the years, Professor Kruskal mentored generations of young mathematicians, and he continued teaching and publishing until the end of his life.
Professor Kruskal came from a family of mathematical siblings. His older brother, William Kruskal, was a statistician, best known to the public for the Kruskal-Wallis test, which is part of every major statistical computation system. His younger brother, Joseph Kruskal, is well known for Kruskal's Algorithm in computer science, the Kruskal Tree Theorem on well-quasi-orderings, and the formulation of Multidimensional Scaling.
Martin Kruskal is survived by his wife of 56 years, Laura Kruskal; three children, Karen, Kerry and Clyde; and five grandchildren.