Farewell to Jonathan Borwein, Doctor Pi

[This is an English translation of a tribute to Jon Borwein, written by Francisco Aragon Artacho, which appeared in El Pais, the highest-circulation newspaper in Spain. The original is here.]

On August 2nd the heart of one of the most brilliant and influential mathematicians of our time stopped beating. Professor Jonathan Borwein unexpectedly died when he was 65 years young. Jon, as he preferred to be called was passionate about mathematics: pure, applied and computational. Nowadays, academic researchers in general, and mathematicians in particular, tend to highly specialize. Without realizing it, we end up becoming experts: someone who knows absolutely

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Transcends the boundaries of disciplines

Very few mathematicians manage to transcend the boundaries of more than one mathematical discipline and make substantial contributions to several areas of Mathematics. Jon was undeniably one of them. He was a paragon of Experimental Mathematics, Functional Analysis, Optimization and other areas. His research work has already inspired thousands of individual researchers and will remain as a testament to this generation and to the coming ones. [Ilias Kotsireas, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada]

You’re not where you were, but you’re everywhere we are

It was August 2nd, 2016 at 11:23 pm (European Time) when I received the sad news. I couldn’t believe it and I had read the email twice in the hope that the information was wrong. I couldn’t sleep all night remembering the last time we met with Jon in Cartagena in June 2016 and particularly in all details my last visit to him in Newcastle in February 2015. I will never forget the warm hospitality with which I had been welcomed. I was also thinking about the unfinished paper that we started together with Jon and Lionel entitled: “How elegant

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Paper dedicated to Jon Borwein

EXTREMALITY OF CONVEX SETS WITH SOME APPLICATIONS by Boris S. Mordukhovich and N. M. Nam Dedicated to the memory of Jonathan Michael Borwein

Abstract: In this paper we introduce an enhanced notion of extremal systems for sets in locally convex topological vector spaces and obtain efficient conditions for set extremality in the convex case. Then we apply this machinery to deriving new calculus results on intersection rules for normal cones to convex sets and on infimal convolutions of support functions.

From Introduction: Convex analysis has been well recognized as an important area of mathematics with numerous applications to optimization, control,

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My father (by Naomi Borwein)

Talk by Naomi Borwein at Jonathan Borwein’s funeral, 10 August 2016.

Jonathan was a complicated figure, of profound and intense contradiction, and a formidable and DEVOTED father. He cared deeply, thought deeply, and felt deeply about most things. A lot of people will be discussing the impact and scope of Jon’s academic output or his sheer brilliance — his genius. But, year after year his work evolved as I watched from the sidelines. So, I am going to share a snapshot of Jon as a fixture of my daily life, through the lens of the everyday.

A ubiquitous aspect of

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Jonathan was a great man

Jonathan was a great man and a great mathematician and his death represents a great loss to mathematics,throughout the world.

As a mathematician he was original innovative and inspirational. As a scientific colleague he was respectful, courteous and generous.

He will be sadly missed. Yours sincerely, John. [John Butcher, University of Auckland, New Zealand]

My brother Jon (by Sarah Borwein)

Talk by Sarah Borwein at the funeral of Jonathan Borwein, August 10, 2016:

My Brother Jon

Jon was a brilliant man. We all know that. I can’t speak about his work or the incredible impact I know he had on the world of mathematics. I knew Jon very simply as my big brother. When I was very small, and he was still Jonathan not Jon, I couldn’t pronounce his name properly, so I called him Jofnan. I don’t think I ever went rock-fishing with him, but I do have a vague memory of him taking me swimming in the North

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My brother Jon (by Peter Borwein)

Talk by Peter Borwein at the funeral of Jonathan Borwein, August 10, 2016 (read by Sarah Borwein):

My brother Jon was a remarkable and unusual talent. He was also an unusual and remarkable brother.

I have fond memories of growing up with Jon, as young boys in St. Andrews, Scotland.

An early memory of Jon is of us fishing off the pier in St. Andrews with our dad David. We would catch rock cod, and make my mother Bessie clean them and make fish cakes. This delighted Jon.

He and I also spent much of our childhood with

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His optimism seemed unconquerable

I heard Jon’s lecture here at Western University back in April. I am not a mathematician, but from what I could understand, I was in the presence of genius. He ranged over so many topics and with such breezy fluency that I had the impression of immersing myself into the entirety of modern mathematics. Jon was affable, funny, versatile, curious and just an all-round pleasant person. His optimism seemed unconquerable. My family and I extend our deepest sympathy to all the grieving Borweins. [Vlad Tumanov, Associate Professor, Dept. of Modern Languages and Literatures, Western University, Ontario, Canada]

A small tribute to a giant

Jonfest 2011 T-shirt

Back in the Spring of 2011, I attended JonFest at IRMACS, a conference marking Jon’s 60th birthday. Part of the swag was the following T-shirt, with a background of what I was certain was a visualization from some of Jon’s (at-the-time) recent work. It was often on the presentation monitor between speakers, and during conference lulls I tried to construct theories around what it might be visualizing.

After exhausting mathematical ideas, I moved onto more symbolic ones, and my favourite of the latter was the following: the center circle was Jon’s brain, and all

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