A life of mathematics and computation: Jon Borwein

There was sad news this week with the passing of Jonathan Borwein on Tuesday, August 2, 2016.

Jon Borwein in his lab at University of Newcastle, Australia.

Jon was a powerhouse mathematician and computer scientist who leaves behind a rich legacy. As a highly awarded scholar, his academic output was staggering: almost five hundred papers, twenty-eight books, and he supervised dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.  His work spanned many areas within mathematics, such as analysis, optimization, financial mathematics, experimental mathematics, and high performance computing. He is also well-known for his work on computing digits of π, and the featured image of this blog is from one of his visualization experiments for that number.

I met Jon when he was Canada Research Chair at Dalhousie University. He was also Director of the Atlantic Association for Research in the Mathematical Sciences (AARMS). I was teaching an AARMS summer school course at Dalhousie, and my first impression of him was that he was brilliant and engaging. He was a leader in the true sense of the word. My first book came from that course, and Jon’s influence helped to get the book published with the American Mathematical Society.

The Borwein family is firmly established in the mathematics community. His brother Peter is an accomplished number theorist at Simon Fraser University, and his father David was past president of the Canadian Mathematical Society (a position also held by Jon) and Chair of the Mathematics Department at Western University.

Peter and Jon Borwein.

Jon was Distinguished Scholar in Residence at Western University when he passed away at the age of 65. His death comes as a shock to the mathematics and computer science communities, and he will be missed. My condolences to his family.

Anthony Bonato



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