Felix Browder

Felix Browder
Born (1927-07-31)July 31, 1927
Moscow, Soviet Union (now Russia)
Died December 10, 2016(2016-12-10) (aged 89)
Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.
Education Massachusetts Institute of Technology (BS)
Princeton University (MS, PhD)
Known for Nonlinear functional analysis
Children 2, including Bill
Relatives Earl Browder (Father)
William Browder (Brother)
Andrew Browder (Brother)
Joshua Browder (Grandson)
Awards National Medal of Science (1999)
Scientific career
Fields Mathematics
Institutions Rutgers University, New Brunswick
University of Chicago
Yale University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Doctoral advisor Solomon Lefschetz
Witold Hurewicz
Doctoral students Richard Beals

Felix Earl Browder (/ˈbrdər/; July 31, 1927 – December 10, 2016) was an American mathematician known for his work in nonlinear functional analysis.[1] He received the National Medal of Science in 1999. His two younger brothers also became notable mathematicians.

Early life and education

Felix Earl Browder was born in 1927 in Moscow, Russia, while his American father Earl Browder, born in Wichita, Kansas, was living and working there. He had gone to the Soviet Union in 1927. His mother was Raissa Berkmann, a Russian Jewish woman from St. Petersburg whom Browder met and married while living in the Soviet Union.[2] As a child, Felix Browder moved with his family to the United States, where his father Earl Browder for a time was head of the American Communist Party. The father ran for US president in 1936 and 1940.[2] A 1999 book by Alexander Vassiliev, published after the fall of the Soviet Union, said that Earl Browder was recruited in the 1940s as a spy for the Soviet Union.[3]

Felix Browder was a child prodigy in mathematics; he entered MIT at age 17 in 1944 and graduated in 1946 with his first degree in mathematics. At MIT he achieved the rank of a Putnam Fellow in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. In 1948 (at age 20), he received his doctorate from Princeton University.

Career

Browder had an academic career, encountering difficulty in the 1950s in getting work during the McCarthy era because of his father's communist activities. He was championed by Eleanor Roosevelt, the former First Lady, when she was president of trustees at Brandeis University and supported his appointment there; other trustees feared hiring him in that political environment.

Browder headed the University of Chicago's mathematics department for 12 years. He also held posts at MIT, Boston University, Brandeis and Yale. In 1986 he became the first vice president for research at Rutgers University.[4]

Browder received the 1999 National Medal of Science.[5][4] He also served as president of the American Mathematical Society from 1999 to 2000.

In his outgoing presidential address at the American Mathematical Society, Browder noted, "ideas and techniques from one set of mathematical sources imping[ing] fruitfully on the same thing from another set of mathematical sources" as illustration of bisociation (a term from Arthur Koestler). He also recounted the moves against mathematics in France by Claude Allègre as problematic.[6]

Browder was known for his personal library, which contained some thirty-five thousand books. "The library has a number of different categories," he said. "There is mathematics, physics and science as well as philosophy, literature and history, with a certain number of volumes of contemporary political science and economics. It is a polymath library. I am interested in everything and my library reflects all my interests."[7]

Family

Browder married Eva Tislowitz in 1949, born to Jewish parents. Their children included Dr. Thomas Browder,[8] a physicist specializing in the experimental study of subatomic particles, and Bill Browder, who became CEO of Hermitage Capital Management and resides in London.

The late Dr. Browder had two younger brothers who were also research mathematicians, William (an algebraic topologist) and Andrew Browder[9] (a specialist in function algebras). Browder died in 2016 at home in Princeton, New Jersey, aged 89.[10] "In addition to his brothers, survivors include the above mentioned two sons, Thomas Browder of Honolulu and Bill Browder of London; and five grandchildren."

See also

References

  1. O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Felix Browder", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
  2. 1 2 Levy, Clifford J. (July 24, 2008). "An Investment Gets Trapped in Kremlin's Vise". The New York Times. Retrieved 2008-07-24. For Mr. Browder, 44, Russia was more than a place to do business. His grandfather Earl Browder was a Communist from Kansas who moved to the Soviet Union in 1927, staying for several years and marrying a Russian. He returned with her to the United States to lead the Communist Party for a time, even running for president.
  3. Alexander Vassiliev (1999). The Haunted Wood: Soviet Espionage in America--the Stalin Era. Random House.
  4. 1 2 "Mathematics Department - News Item: Felix Browder Receives Nation's Highest Science Honor". Math.rutgers.edu. Archived from the original on May 16, 2000. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  5. "The President's National Medal of Science: Recipient Details | NSF - National Science Foundation". www.nsf.gov. Retrieved 2018-08-30.
  6. F. Browder (2002) "Reflections on the Future of Mathematics", Notices of the American Mathematical Society 49(6): 658–62
  7. M Cook (2009), Mathematicians : An Outer View of an Inner World, Princeton University Press
  8. "Home page for Tom Browder". Phys.hawaii.edu. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  9. "Brown University Mathematics Department". Math.brown.edu. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  10. Schudel, Matt (December 15, 2016). "Felix Browder, mathematician shadowed by his father's life as a Communist, dies at 89". Washington Post. Retrieved December 16, 2016.
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