👓 ‘Miss Minnie,’ one of Johns Hopkins University’s longest-serving employees, dies at 96 | JHU Hub

Read 'Miss Minnie,' one of Johns Hopkins University's longest-serving employees, dies at 96 (The Hub)
She came to Hopkins as a cafeteria worker in 1946, retired as assistant to the president in 2007

Gary Posner obituary

Bookmarked Renowned chemist, longtime Hopkins faculty member Gary Posner dies at 74 (The Hub (JHU))
Gary Posner, best known for pioneering research in organocopper chemistry, joined JHU faculty in 1969

I should know better about searching for obituaries. After hearing about Murray Sach’s passing I’ve just discovered that one of my organic chemistry professors has recently died as well.

I remember Dr. Posner well for his pointed use of the Socratic method, and in particular the day that my chemistry-related sir name caught his eye. I think he always expected that I would have been born a chemistry genius because of the name Aldrich. His expectations did make my orgo studies all the more fraught and worthwhile however.

I will point out in my day that the reaction that carried his name was ordered as the Corey-Posner-Whitesides-House reaction and not in the lesser order mentioned in the article.

Murray Sachs Obituary

Bookmarked Murray Sachs Obituary - Brookline, MA (Dignity Memorial)
Murray Sachs, of Arlington, MA, formerly of Baltimore, MD, on Saturday, March 3, 2018. Beloved husband of the late Merle (Diener) Sachs. Devoted father of Benjamin Sachs & his wife Lisa, and Jonathan Sachs & his wife Kate. Loving grandfather of Talia, Aviva, Zoe, Zander, Jonah, and Miriam. Loving uncle of Nancy Colier and Steven Shainberg. Murray was a renowned scientist who received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in electrical engineering from MIT (B.S. ’62, M.S. ‘64, Ph.D. ‘66). He worked in the field of biomedical engineering, in particular using mathematics to model the way sound is received, transmitted, encoded, and comprehended between the ear and the brain, laying groundwork for advances such as the cochlear implant. He served as the Director of the Biomedical Engineering Department at Johns Hopkins University. Murray was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering for his scientific contributions and his leadership in biomedical engineering education. Murray is remembered as having a gentle soul, and as being a calm leader and generous mentor. He was a loving husband, beloved father, doting grandfather, and a deeply devoted colleague and friend. He will be profoundly missed. Services at Temple Beth Avodah, 45 Puddingstone Lane, Newton, MA on Monday, March 5 at 2pm. In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research.

Saddened to hear about the passing of one of my college professors and a lion in the field of biomedical engineering. I’ve heard that there are forthcoming obituaries in the JHU Hub as well as the Baltimore Sun.

h/t to Guy Shechter for passing along the news

👓 John Heard, the Frazzled Father in ‘Home Alone,’ Dies at 71 | New York Times

Read John Heard, the Frazzled Father in ‘Home Alone,’ Dies at 71 by Annie Correal (New York Times)
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.

👓 Martin Landau, Actor Who Won an Oscar for ‘Ed Wood,’ Dies at 89 | New York Times

Read Martin Landau, Actor Who Won an Oscar for ‘Ed Wood,’ Dies at 89 by Anita Gates (New York Times)
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!

👓 Maryam Mirzakhani | What’s New

Read Maryam Mirzakhani by Terry Tao (What's New)
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.

👓 Jonathan Demme, ‘Silence of the Lambs’ and ‘Philadelphia’ Director, Dead at 73 | Rolling Stone

Read Acclaimed Director Jonathan Demme Dead at 73 by David Fear, Ryan Reed (Rolling Stone)
'Stop Making Sense' filmmaker succumbs to esophageal cancer

Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95 | The New York Times

Read Kenneth Arrow, Nobel-Winning Economist Whose Influence Spanned Decades, Dies at 95 by Michael M. Weinstein (New York Times)
Professor Arrow, one of the most brilliant minds in his field during the 20th century, became the youngest economist ever to earn a Nobel at the age of 51.

Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88

Liked Professor Emeritus Seymour Papert, pioneer of constructionist learning, dies at 88 (MIT News)
World-renowned mathematician, learning theorist, and educational-technology visionary was a founding faculty member of the MIT Media Lab.

Tom M. Apostol, 1923–2016

Bookmarked Tom M. Apostol, 1923–2016 (CalTech Division of Physics, Mathematics and Astronomy)
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.)

Mathematician Basil Gordon (wearing a brown sweater) sitting near Chris Aldrich
Somehow Basil Gordon (brown sweater) and I were recognized on the same day at an event for Johns Hopkins University. Later we discovered that he had overseen the Ph.D. of one of my long-time mathematics professors and he was a lifelong friend of my friend/mentor Solomon Golomb. — at Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel on March 13, 2010
Michael Miller making a "handwaving argument" during a lecture on Algebraic Number Theory at UCLA on November 15, 2015. I've taken over a dozen courses from Mike in areas including Group Theory, Field Theory, Galois Theory, Group Representations, Algebraic Number Theory, Complex Analysis, Measure Theory, Functional Analysis, Calculus on Manifolds, Differential Geometry, Lie Groups and Lie Algebras, Set Theory, Differential Geometry, Algebraic Topology, Number Theory, Integer Partitions, and p-Adic Analysis.
Michael Miller making a “handwaving argument” during a lecture on Algebraic Number Theory at UCLA on November 15, 2015. I’ve taken over a dozen courses from Mike in areas including Group Theory, Field Theory, Galois Theory, Group Representations, Algebraic Number Theory, Complex Analysis, Measure Theory, Functional Analysis, Calculus on Manifolds, Differential Geometry, Lie Groups and Lie Algebras, Set Theory, Differential Geometry, Algebraic Topology, Number Theory, Integer Partitions, and p-Adic Analysis.

Devastating News: Sol Golomb has apparently passed away on Sunday

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.

Golomb and national medal of science
President Barack Obama presents Solomon Golomb with the National Medal of Science at an awards ceremony held at the White House in 2013.

Saddened to hear of the passing of Sir David J.C. MacKay, FRS

Earlier this morning, I was saddened to hear that one of my information theory heroes passed away today.

David MacKay blackboard

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.)

An instant classic, covering everything from Shannon’s fundamental theorems to the postmodern theory of LDPC codes. You’ll want two copies of this astonishing book, one for the office and one for the fireside at home.

Bob McEliece, information theorist and professor, California Institute of Technology

 
Information Theory, Inference and Learning Algorithms

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:



RIP David MacKay, former DECC Chief Scientific Adviser. He was passionate, original, brave. A truly good man. Deep condolences to his family

— Ed Miliband (@Ed_Miliband) April 14, 2016

Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88 | The New York Times

Professor Minsky laid the foundation for the field by demonstrating the possibilities of imparting common-sense reasoning to computers.

Source: Marvin Minsky, Pioneer in Artificial Intelligence, Dies at 88 – The New York Times

Obituary: Wes Craven

Bookmarked Wes Craven Dead: Movies 'Scream', 'Nightmare on Elm Street' Horrified Viewers (The Hollywood Reporter)
Wes Craven, the famed maestro of horror known for the Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream franchises, died Sunday after a battle with brain cancer. He was 76.

Saddened to  hear that filmmaker and fellow Johns Hopkins University alum Wes Craven has passed away this afternoon. He was certainly a scholar and a gentleman and will be missed terribly.

Obituary: Wes Craven, Horror Maestro, Dies at 76 – Hollywood Reporter 

Wes Craven
Wes Craven