Ciprian Foias, 1969. (Credit: Mathematisches Forschungsinstitut Oberwolfach.)


It may indeed take one to know one, but as illustrated in a recent case within the Texas A&M University Department of Mathematics, it takes two to honor one.

A year ago, two Texas A&M mathematics professors took a bit of creative license with both the adage and an out-of-the-box gift idea to commemorate a friend's significant birthday. The result offers a life lesson in absolute value, from friendships to career accomplishment worth celebrating in perpetuity.

In spring 2014, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Ronald Douglas and Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Carl M. Pearcy '55 teamed up to create the Foias Lectures in honor of their longtime colleague, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Ciprian Foias, for his 80th birthday.

Douglas noted that three professors joined the Texas A&M Department of Mathematics at roughly the same time -- Pearcy in 1990, Douglas in 1995 and Foias in 1999 -- and have been close friends and co-authors for more than 50 years. His and Pearcy's lead gifts were augmented by contributions from Foias' additional friends and colleagues and then matched by an anonymous donor to create a $25,000 endowment through the Texas A&M Foundation in support of the annual series. Distributions are used to bring distinguished mathematicians who work in some branch of analysis to the Texas A&M campus to deliver up to three lectures during the course of a week each academic year.

Fields Medalist Alain Connes served as the inaugural speaker for the 2014 Foias Lectures, held in conjunction with the Noncommutative Geometry Festival and supplemented through a combined effort from Texas A&M mathematics professors Guoliang Yu, Yalchin Efendiev and Jean-Luc Guermod using funds from their respective Thomas W. Powell '62 Chair in Mathematics (Yu) and Richard E. Ewing-ExxonMobil Chair in Computational Science (co-held by Efendiev and Guermond).

The second annual event, held last week, featured University of California, Berkeley mathematician Dan Voiculescu, who was Foias' student in their native Romania and earned his Ph.D. under Foias' mentorship in 1977 en route to becoming a world-renowned researcher. A fellow of the American Mathematical Society, Voiculescu was awarded the National Academy of Sciences Award in Mathematics in 2004, an invited speaker at the 1983 International Congress of Mathematicians in Warsaw and a plenary speaker at the 1994 ICM in Zurich. In addition, he is the Ph.D. advisor of current Texas A&M mathematicians Michael Anshelevich and Ken Dykema.

"I am very grateful to Carl and Ron for their initiative and for their generous start-up donations," said Dr. Emil J. Straube, professor and head of the Department of Mathematics. "The series is a most fitting tribute to Ciprian and a great opportunity to showcase his life's work."

A native of Romania, Foias emigrated to the United States in the early 1980s after holding faculty appointments in Romania and France. He spent 16 years as a distinguished professor at Indiana University before coming to Texas A&M in 1999. He was appointed as a distinguished professor of mathematics in 2007.

Foias' work has set the tone for much of the research in operator theory and fluid mechanics during the past 45 years, as evidenced by a scholarly record in both areas that clearly places him in the top one percent of pure and applied mathematical analysts worldwide. His level of productivity is almost unheard of among the mathematical community, from graduate-level books authored (11) to articles in refereed professional journals (nearly 500).

Foias' major career awards include the 1995 Norbert Wiener Prize in Applied Mathematics from the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (AMS/SIAM), the 2000 Béla Szõkefalvi-Nagy Memorial Medal from the University of Szeged, Hungary, and honorary memberships in the Hungarian Academy of Science and the Romanian Academy.

For more information on the recent 2015 event or the Foias Lecture Series in general, please contact the Department of Mathematics at (979) 845-7554.

To learn more about endowments or other giving opportunities in the College of Science, go to http://www.science.tamu.edu/giving/ or directly to the Texas A&M Foundation.


Contact: Shana K. Hutchins, (979) 862-1237 or shutchins@science.tamu.edu or Dr. Emil J. Straube, (979) 845-9424 or straube@math.tamu.edu

Hutchins Shana

  • Dr. Ciprian Foias

  • Dr. Ronald Douglas

  • Dr. Carl M. Pearcy '55

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