Richard M. (Dick) Dudley died on Jan. 19, 2020 (NOT from Coronavirus).You can find obituaries for him

here,

here, and

here and an interview with him from 2019

here.

Professor Dudley worked in Probability and Statistics. His work is now

being used in Machine Learning. Here is a guest-post-obit by

David Marcus who had Prof. Dudley as his PhD Thesis Advisor.

-----------------------------------

Guest Blog Obit by David Marcus:

Dick was my thesis advisor at M.I.T. After I got my Ph.D. in 1983, I went

to work in industry, so did not work closely with him, as some of his other

students did. But, I enjoyed working with him very much in graduate school.

Dick was very precise. His lecture notes and articles (and later his books)

said exactly what needed to be said and didn't waste words. In his classes,

he always handed out complete lecture notes, thus letting you concentrate

on the material rather than having to take a lot of notes.

Dick was very organized, but his office had piles of papers and journal

articles everywhere. There is a picture

here.

Before Dick was my advisor, I took his probability course. My orals were

going to be towards the end of the term, and I was going to use probability

as one of my two minor areas. So, I spent a lot of time studying the

material. Dick gave a final exam in the course. The final exam was unlike

any other final exam I ever took: The exam listed twelve areas that had

been covered in the course. The instructions said to pick ten and for each

area give the main definitions and theorems and, if you had time, prove the

theorems. Since I had been studying the material for my orals, I didn't

have much trouble, but if I hadn't been studying it for my orals, it would

have been quite a shock!(COMMENT FROM BILL: Sounds like a lazy way to make up an exam, though on this

level of may it works. I know of a prof whose final was

Make up 4 good questions for the final. Now Solve them.

)

Once Dick became my advisor, Dick and I had a regular weekly meeting. I'd

tell him what I'd figured out or what I'd found in a book or journal

article over the last week and we'd discuss it and he'd make suggestions.

At some point, I'd say I needed to think about it, and I'd leave. I never

did find out how long these meetings were supposed to last because I was

always the one to end them.(COMMENT FROM BILL: It's good someone ended them! Or else you might never

had graduated :-) )

When I began working with Dick, he said he already had a full

load of students, but he would see if he had something I could work on. The

problem Dick came up with for me to work on was to construct a

counterexample to a theorem that Dick had published. Dick knew his

published proof was wrong, and had an idea of what a counterexample might

look like, so suggested I might be able to prove it was a counterexample.

In retrospect, this was perhaps a risky thesis problem for me since if the

student gets stuck, the professor can spend time figuring out how to do it.

But, in this case, presumably Dick had already put some effort into it

without success. Regardless, with Dick's guidance, I was able to prove it,

and soon after got my Ph.D.(COMMENT FROM BILL: Sounds risky since if Dick could not do it, maybe it's too hard.)

In 2003 there was a conference in honor of Dick's 65th birthday. All of his

ex-students were invited, and many of them attended. There was a day of

talks, and we all went out to dinner (Chinese food, if I recall correctly)

in the evening. At dinner, I asked Dick if any of his other students had

written a thesis that disproved one of his published theorems. He said I

was the only one.(COMMENT FROM BILL: Really good that not only was he okay with you disproving

his theorem, he encouraged you to!)