Monday, April 06, 2009

The Jack Schwartz Memorial

(Guest Blog by Clyde Kruskal)

As I mentioned in my previous guest blog I attended Jack Schwartz's memorial, which was organized and MCed by Ed Schonberg. It took place at the Courant Institute on a Friday evening and was followed by food and drinks. The next day, his wife, Diana, graciously hosted an open house.

Colleagues, family, and friends spoke roughly in chronological order of knowing him, starting with his sister. The Computer Scientists who spoke most recognizable to this community were: Martin Davis, Greg Chaitin, and Michael Rabin. Other computer scientists who spoke were (his ex-wife) Fran Allen, Robert Dewar, Eugenio Omodeo (who came from Italy with Alfredo Ferro), Bud Mishra, and Ken Perlin.

Music was an important part of Jack's life. A number of people played and/or sang, including his wife, who composed and played a piano piece (Portrait of Jack).

What showed through was Jack's intellect and generousity. Louis Nirenberg noted that Jack read mathematics like other people read novels. This is not hyperbole. Similar comments were made by Robert Dewar and Peter Lax.

Michael Schwartman talked about how Jack helped him get out of the Soviet Union and make his way in the US, and how Jack was able to maintain their friendship despite their unequal relationship.

On a personal note, it was wonderful to see some of my former professors and fellow students at the Courant Institute. It has been a long time since I was back. Some things were the same, some things were different, and some things were the same but seemed very different than I remembered.

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