Jon Borwein: A personal reflection

Jon Borwein died on August 2, 2016. His untimely passing has deprived us all of a singular and brilliant mind and an inspirational intellectual leader, and I have lost a close personal friend. Rather than a formal memorial, my words are a personal reflection on my coauthor (of fifteen papers and a book), a mentor to whom I owe my career.

Jon’s mathematical breadth and energy make a fascinating but bewildering picture, extending far beyond traditional optimization, and challenging to sketch. He delighted in collaboration, and many of us knew first-hand his research style: whirling, exuberant, defamiliarizing, endlessly curious, elegant, scholarly, generous, and honest. He made time for everyone, no matter their rank or eccentricity. Shortly after I met Jon, at the height of the public prominence of his work around pi with his brother Peter, highlighted in their book and a Scientific American article, he remarked to me how he kept in mind the eminent English mathematician G.H. Hardy, the sole reader of Ramanujan’s first terse but prophetic notes.

[For Adrian Lewis’ full article, see HERE.]

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