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Jon Borwein: My gentle-giant mentor

I will always cherish the wildly fascinating years I spent with Jon Borwein, my mentor and graduate co-supervisor, at the CECM.

Jon took me under his wings and offered me a chance to dabble in the world of mathematical publishing during our bus ride to the math department on a hot summer day in 1995. My initiation to the CJM and CMB for the CMS foreshadowed a series of publishing endeavours including a book cover and my eventual MPub report typeset in LaTeX.

Thanks to Jon’s holistic vision for nurturing mathematical and computing sciences, CECM was a cradle

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To know is great, but to love — even greater

I was shocked to find this notice of Jon Borwein’s passing. Jon’s brilliance in pure and applied math was matched by an unusual–some would say incomparable–ability to share it with others. When I saw Jon in November 2015 at the CARMA Workshop in Newcastle I found a vigorous mind and body who–despite all his hard work and hours logged–then offered to take me on a long hike, to show me more of the “beauty of New South Wales”. (Alas, I wasn’t able to take him up on the offer.) Recently I was named Conjoint Professor at the University of Newcastle.

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Working with Jon at the Centre for Experimental and Computational Mathematics

Hearing the words of Jon’s family and colleagues at the podium of Logan Funeral Home, the sad fact that Jon had left us set in. Perhaps it is my unconscientious effort to escape the gloomy reality that the memories of the early days when I begin my postdoc work at CECM under the guidance of Jon emerges. It all starts in fall 1993 and what I learned from Jon in CECM, which afterwards still benefits me.

“I think in blocks” was Jon’s answer to my question on how did he work simultaneously with more than a dozen mentees of

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How Jon Borwein became my supervisor

In 1987, I was a student in China. I read a paper by Rockafellar, “Proximal subgradients, marginal values, and augmented Lagrangians in nonconvex optimization” in Mathematical Operation Research (1981). My dream was to generalize results in the paper to infinite dimensional spaces. A literature search found two beautifully written papers by J. Borwein and H. Strojwas, “Proximal analysis and boundaries of closed sets in Banach space I, II,” in the Canadian Journal of Mathematics (1986). The papers were unlike any I had ever seen; their broad applicability and the sheer generality of their results made mathematics seem like child’s play

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My friend Jon Borwein

I met Jon in 1989, soon after my arrival to America. We knew each other by our publications while had never even seen each other’s photos. Jon liked to mention from time to time on various occasions a funny thing from our first meeting. When he asked me how old I am, I replied as people do in Russia with the last two digits of the year I was born. But Jon responded in the Western way with his calendar age at that moment. As a result, it appeared to me that Jon was 10 years older than I, and

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Jon Borwein : My Mathematical Guru

In India the word “GURU” is a revered one. A Guru is not a person from whom you just learn something but someone who changes your view of the world. Jon changed my view of mathematics. I had been studying papers by Jon since my Phd days but first met him 2009 in Adelaide in the AustMS conference. He immediately invited me to visit him in Newcastle which I did and spent three lovely days there and enjoyed the warm the hospitality of Jon and Judi. Further it was unnerving for me to see Jon handle so many different areas

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Excerpts from emails

I have just heard about this terrible news regarding the death of Jon Borwein. It’s a real pity and big loss for the optimization community! Even if I didn’t know him personally please send my condolences to his family and friends! [3 Aug 2016, Hector Ramírez Cabrera, CMM, University of Chile]

What terrible and unexpected sad news. It is really hard to process. I was in contact with Jon a few days ago. My condolences to Judy and his daughters. We will miss you…. [3 Aug 2016, Alejandro Jofre, CMM, University of Chile]

Terrible news and terrible loss. Difficult to

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Sharing time with Jon was a unique gift

I just cannot come to terms with the fact that a person with so much energy and vitality can leave us so unexpectedly. It seems like a nightmare I cannot get over.

Last night I had a dream: I had an appointment with Jon and I was late. It was in a very big house full of rooms. I opened all doors one by one and after a while, I found a room with a table full of people discussing mathematics very passionately and Jon was leading the discussion. I apologised for being late but at the same time I

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My mathematical father Jon Borwein

I remember falling in mathematical love with Jon Borwein when he proved the Hölder inequality using Fenchel conjugates. This was during a Measure Theory course I took from him at Dalhousie in 1991. Loosely based on Royden’s book, Jon often taught us more elegant proofs as well as additional material. Jon subsequently accepted me as his doctoral student and, as many of the people who have interacted with Jon would testify, life trajectories were changed profoundly.

Jon was an absolutely amazing and inspiring advisor. His breadth and productivity are simply breathtaking and unparalleled. Jon reminded me of Magnus Carlsen (the

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Sheer intellectual brillance

I was privileged to know Jon Borwein and to work with him in an extremely modest capacity for just a few all-too-short years. Though I’m woefully ill-equipped to comment on the grandeur of his mathematical achievements except to recognize the compelling acclaim that they have attracted universally, at a personal level I can attest to the sheer intellectual brilliance of a man who could converse intelligently on virtually every conceivable subject that would ever arise in conversation. Jon’s brain evidently functioned several orders of magnitude faster than most, his memory retained incomprehensibly greater amounts of information, and he could communicate

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