Mr. Heard played pained characters in dramas but was best known as the dad who embarked on a family trip to Paris without his youngest son.
The family is actually quoted as saying he wanted to be known for his other work rather than for Home Alone, yet the New York Times choose to dishonor him anyway. It’s so sad as he was a really solid character actor with a great body of work. I’m hoping that his obit will get more people to go back and dig up Cutter’s Way.
I recall thinking about him fondly a month ago as I watched The Pelican Brief, but may remember him best for his frustrating turn in Big as well as a bevvy of great guest roles on television.
Mr. Landau, who gained notoriety in the 1960s TV series “Mission: Impossible,” but then struggled to find work, enjoyed a career revival in film decades later.
I got to meet Mr. Landau several times around 1999-2000 and he was such a gentleman. I still watch North by Northwest at least once a year, and it’s nearly as much for his performance as anything. What a giant!
I am totally stunned to learn that Maryam Mirzakhani died today, aged 40, after a severe recurrence of the cancer she had been fighting for several years. I had planned to email her some wishes for a speedy recovery after learning about the relapse yesterday; I still can’t fully believe that she didn’t make it.
A nice obituary about a fantastic mathematician from a fellow Fields Prize winner.
Tom M. Apostol, professor of mathematics, emeritus at California Institute of Technology passed away on May 8, 2016. He was 92.
My proverbial mathematical great-grandfather passed away yesterday.
As many know, for over a decade, I’ve been studying a variety of areas of advanced abstract mathematics with Michael Miller. Mike Miller received his Ph.D. in 1974 (UCLA) under the supervision of Basil Gordon who in turn received his Ph.D. in 1956 (CalTech) under the supervision of Tom M. Apostol.
Incidentally going back directly three generations is Markov and before that Chebyshev and two generations before that Lobachevsky.
Sadly, I never got to have Tom as a teacher directly myself, though I did get to meet him several times in (what mathematicians might call) social situations. I did have the advantage of delving into his two volumes of Calculus as well as referring to his book on Analytic Number Theory. If it’s been a while since you’ve looked at calculus, I highly recommend an evening or two by the fire with a glass of wine while you revel in Calculus, Vol 1 or Calculus, Vol 2.
It’s useful to take a moment to remember our intellectual antecedents, so in honor of Tom’s passing, I recommend the bookmarked very short obituary (I’m sure more will follow), this obituary of Basil, and this issue of the Notices of the AMS celebrating Basil as well. I also came across a copy of Fascinating Mathematical People which has a great section on Tom and incidentally includes some rare younger photos of Sol Golomb who suddenly passed away last Sunday. (It’s obviously been a tough week for me and math in Southern California this week.)
The world has certainly lost one of its greatest thinkers, and many of us have lost a dear friend, colleague, and mentor.
I was getting concerned that I hadn’t heard back from Sol for a while, particularly after emailing him late last week, and then I ran across this notice through ITSOC & the IEEE:
Solomon W. Golomb (May 30, 1932 – May 1, 2016)
Shannon Award winner and long-time ITSOC member Solomon W. Golomb passed away on May 1, 2016.
Solomon W. Golomb was the Andrew Viterbi Chair in Electrical Engineering at the University of Southern California (USC) and was at USC since 1963, rising to the rank of University and Distinguished Professor. He was a member of the National Academies of Engineering and Science, and was awarded the National Medal of Science, the Shannon Award, the Hamming Medal, and numerous other accolades. As USC Dean Yiannis C. Yortsos wrote, “With unparalleled scholarly contributions and distinction to the field of engineering and mathematics, Sol’s impact has been extraordinary, transformative and impossible to measure. His academic and scholarly work on the theory of communications built the pillars upon which our modern technological life rests.”
In addition to his many contributions to coding and information theory, Professor Golomb was one of the great innovators in recreational mathematics, contributing many articles to Scientific American and other publications. More recent Information Theory Society members may be most familiar with his mathematics puzzles that appeared in the Society Newsletter, which will publish a full remembrance later.
A quick search a moment later revealed this sad confirmation along with some great photos from an award Sol received just a week ago:
As is common in academia, I’m sure it will take a few days for the news to drip out, but the world has certainly lost one of its greatest thinkers, and many of us have lost a dear friend, colleague, and mentor.
I’ll try touch base with his family and pass along what information sniff I can. I’ll post forthcoming obituaries as I see them, and will surely post some additional thoughts and reminiscences of my own in the coming days.
I’ve been following a Google Alert for “information theory,” and so on an almost a daily basis for over 15 years I’ve seen thousands of notices and references to his excellent textbook Information Theory, Inference, and Learning Algorithms, which he kindly chose to freely share with the world. It’s really a great little textbook, and I recommend that everyone download it or purchase it and give it a read. In addition he has a fabulous series of video lectures to go with it as well. (Someone had actually asked me for information theory lectures on Quora last week, and his are some of the best.)
Sir David J.C. MacKay was the Regius Professor of Engineering at Cambridge University and a former professor of natural philosophy in the Department of Physics at at Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge. He was also a leading figure in energy and climate change having written the accessible and highly praised book Sustainable Energy: Without all the Hot Air, which is also available for free on his site. In 2009 he was appointed to a five year term as Chief Scientific Advisor of the Department of Energy and Climate Change, United Kingdom.
His TED talk will give you an idea of some of his work in this area:
MacKay was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2009. His nomination reads:
David MacKay introduced more efficient types of error-correcting code that are now used in satellite communications, digital broadcasting and magnetic recording. He advanced the field of Machine Learning by providing a sound Bayesian foundation for artificial neural networks. Using this foundation, he significantly improved their performance, allowing them to be used for designing new types of steel that are now used in power stations. He used his expertise in information theory to design a widely used interface called “dasher” that allows disabled people to write efficiently using a single finger or head-mounted pointer.
Sir David MacKay was knighted in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to scientific advice in government and to science outreach.
For those interested, he a great little blog. Here’s his last blogpost.
Below, from a variety of information theorists, mathematicians, and scientists is just the beginning of the outpouring of loss the world is experiencing today:
Deeply saddened to hear of the death today of David MacKay aged only 48—one of UK’s very best applied scientists: https://t.co/9QLq95BKzA