This was a gathering place for friends and colleagues of Jerry Marsden to express their fond remembrances of him and his work. In sharing our thoughts with this community of friends we witness the extent to which Jerry touched and inspired many who were blessed to have known him.

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93 Responses to Remembrances

  1. Robert Kochwalter says:

    I was shaken up as I came across the news of his memorial service, for I had spoken with Wendy in the fall of last year, about my possibility of seeing them again, during my next visit to the United States.
    Let me first, digress. I can remember being a sophomore at the University of California, Berkeley, you being a renowned mathematics professor (with Weinstein et. al.) and us being introduced by (my) mom, who at the time was the executive assistant to the Dean of the Mathematics Department. How intimidated I was!
    I had the privilege and pleasure to assist you, on and off, as a technical writer, also after your (perhaps) career changing transition the California Institute of Technology, for about 5 years.
    During this time you had become somewhat of a surrogate father figure to me, and I valued your professional and personal insights enormously.
    After my repatriation to Austria, we remained in cyber contact and I regret the impossibility to see you again. Nonetheless, memories, experiences and advices you have given me, will last a lifetime.
    Please accept my deepest condolences. I hope Jerry’s family will find the strength to bear up under sad loss. With fondness and kind regards R.I.P.

  2. Matt says:

    I took Dr. Marsden’s Calculus 1A class at Cal. Even though I wasn’t the best student, I learned so much from him–things I still remember about how to analyze and solve problems. He was truly one of the most influential teachers I’ve ever had.

    Rest in peace.

  3. Weizhong Zhang says:

    Dr Marsden was such a nice and great scientist. I thank him for the tremendous amount of help he provided for my and my advisor’s projects and research efforts. His influence on me was so crucial as one of my Ph.D. committee members. Without him, I would not have successfully obtained my Ph. D. degree. My gratitude and thanks are wholeheartedly given to him. He will live in my heart forever. Dr Marsden, live happily in the heaven… .

  4. A great mathematician. A great man. I never met personnally Jerrold, but we had several exchanges of mails. He was an extremely friendly person.

  5. Diane Shadden says:

    I read, through my tears, late into the wee hours last night the comments submitted from so many who shared stories about how Jerry changed their lives. Wow! what a legacy that he leaves to so many around the world.

    I am not a scholar or mathematician. I am only a mother of a child who had the great fortune to study under Jerry. I cannot speak from an academic point of view. I can only speak from the heart. Jerry had a wonderful smile and ease about him. He was someone who you immediately admired. How lucky my son was to have known him and receive his gifts of insight, education, and unique outlook to all in the world.

    During your journey through life, if you are blessed, you will meet one or two human beings who really make a difference. Jerry was one who could change the lives of those he met and even those he only met through his work in mathematics.

    The world lost a great person in September, but all of us will carry his memory and honor his life through our works and deeds.

    My sincere condolences to his family and all his friends who will grieve today for their loss. Enjoy his remembrance and celebrate the life of a great man. I know that I will, from afar.

  6. Antonio Hernández-Garduño says:

    I was lucky to have Jerry as my Ph.D. advisor. I remember him as the most kind, energetic and enlightened person, whom I viewed as my role model. In that sense, his passing feels to me like the loss of a father. I take comfort in having communicated with him shortly before he left us and in being able to continue to “listen” to him in his writings and through the huge mathematical community that he fostered.

    My sincere condolences to Alison, Barbara and all who were close to him.

    Hasta siempre, Jerry.

  7. Linda Bushnell says:

    Jerry was on my PhD committee at UC Berkeley (graduated 1994). He was a pleasure to work with and was such a great motivator. My sympathies go out to his family.

  8. Peter Ashwin says:

    I knew Jerry through his delightfully insightful books and especially through his support of the Journal “Dynamical Systems an International Journal” – he was a member of the editorial board member for many years. Jerry was a world authority in many areas of mathematics, but he clearly cared for the people – he would respond to questions or requests no matter how banal or abstruse, and I’m sure he will be missed by many people.

    On behalf of myself, and on behalf of the journal co-editor-in-chief Matt Nicol, the rest of the editorial board and the publishers (Taylor and Francis), I would like to pass on my most sincere condolences on to his family and friends.

  9. Steven Wong says:

    Professor Marsden was my favorite mathematics textbook author when I studied at Berkeley in the ’80s. Although I didn’t have him as a professor, I used three textbooks that he wrote/co-wrote: Vector Calculus, Elementary Classical Analysis, and Basic Complex Analysis and I loved these three books. I only met him once when I sat in on a guest lecture he presented on an arcane subject. He struck me then as extremely gifted and rather young for someone who’s already written so many textbooks. For some strange reason I thought of his Vector Calculus book today and did a Google search and sadly learned of his passing. He will be deeply missed.

  10. Clyde Martin says:

    I was a very naive graduate student at Tulane University in 1967 and one of the professors had a copy of Abraham and Marsden in note form. I realized that I was being led through something very great that semester. Many years later I had the privledge of meeting and talking with Marsden and then I knew that I was talking to someone that was truely great. I have valued my time with Jerry and I always go away knowing that I have had an opportunity to learn something from a master. His influence on applied mathematics is permananent. Jerry will be missed but his work will remain for the edification of future aspiring mathematicians.

  11. Fred Waible says:

    I never had the privilege of meeting Jerry, or studying under him directly. Collecting books on Calculus is sort of a hobby of mine and that’s how I came to own Jerry’s and Alan Weinstein’s books on the Calculus published by Springer (Calculus I, II, III). What attracted me to their books was the friendly photograph on the back of the book with Jerry and Alan smiling warmly at us readers and students. It just naturally made you want to open the book and investigate they’re approach to the Calculus. And of course you’re rewarded for doing so. The entire series is filled with knowledge from extremely gifted mathematicians but what is most intriguing was the absolute desire on Jerry and Alan’s part to teach a difficult subject with the same inspiring techniques that the ancient Greek pedagogues used. The imparting of the knowledge was absolutely paramount. It’s done in such a human and, yes, loving way. I hadn’t researched Jerry’s career until tonight but it’s apparent that he was one of a very few of the world’s great mathematicians, and Alan too. What makes Jerry (he continues on in his published work so I speak of him in the present tense) and Alan so much more rare is their humanity and their desire to break down whatever walls might be in a student’s way instead of distancing themselves from the rest of us mere mortals.

    My condolences go out to Jerry’s family and what must be a huge list of Jerry’s friends and students. Indeed anyone that was one of Jerry’s students, probably considered Jerry a friend. I know that I do, just having read his work and his good friend Alan.

    Thank you my friend, Jerry. I look forward to meeting you in the infinite

  12. Henrik Ørsted says:

    Even though I had never met one of the greatest mechanical mathematicians, I have gained a lot of inspirational momentum from Professor Marsden’s many publications and fabulous books. They have really taught me a lot. It is a shame that the RIGHT ones die always before the WRONG ones. He was certainly unique in his quest to solve the riddles of mechanics by a humanly comprehensible language.

    May he always be remembered as one of the greatest mathematicians in line with Lagrange and Fourier!

  13. Neil Getz says:

    Jerry was my adviser, my guide, and my defender. I take some pride in what I achieved as his graduate student and without doubt I would not have achieved it without him.

    In my years after graduation, when on occasion I would drift into a dream of glory, the climax of my dream would always be giving my glory to Jerry. Too late. Too slow. Now I’ll have to live with the humility of having received more than I gave.

    To Alison, Christopher, and Barbara, my condolences. I share your loss.

    To Jerry, gratitude.

  14. Ronald Walton says:

    I just learned of Jerry’s passing. It came as quite a shock.

    When I was a physics graduate student at Stanford studying linear perturbation theory and gravitation wave generation by slowly rotating collapsing stars, I came across Jerry’s work with Arthur Fischer on Hamiltonian methods in general relativity. I was adapting Vince Moncrief’s gauge invariant Hamiltonian perturbation formalism to time dependent background spacetimes. Jerry Marsden & Arthur Fischer’s work helped guide me to my thesis. And several years later, I had the high honor to collaborate with Jerry and his student David Bao to develop a noncanonical Hamiltonian formalism for general relativistic perfect fluids.

    Over the years I have followed Jerry’s website and paper postings and have always been amazed at the range of his interests and contributions in mathematics. Many of those papers have inspired me to maintain my interest in mathematical physics. Jerry will be sorely missed.

    Ronald Walton

  15. Stephanie Luh says:

    Jerry’s passing away came as a total surprise to me.

    I first encountered him my first year in college about ten years ago. My parents live near Pasadena, and I was looking for a summer job. I opened my math textbook, saw his name and contact info, and emailed him to see if he knew of any summer jobs at Caltech. He immediately took me under his wing after one phone interview and a rec letter. When I first met him in person, I called him Dr. Marsden; he smiled and said, “Just call me Jerry.” For two summers I worked closely with him and Wendy on LaTeX and his various math textbooks and papers. He was my first boss! He was so accomplished! And he was so down-to-earth, genuine, and cool to hang out with!

    Since those summers I’ve been sending Christmas cards and exchanging emails; no matter how busy he was, he always took the time to ask how I was doing. His Elementary Classical Analysis textbook sits among my investment books on my office shelves at work; he taught me how to analyze clouds; and he explained to me where the expression “bless you” came from after one sneezes. Even though I never ended up in academia or anything related to his field, he helped me in every way that he could and was a great mentor. He had a huge heart of gold, and we are all very blessed and fortunate to have encountered him in our lives. He will truly be missed.

  16. Pat Eberlein says:

    I knew Jerry in the early 70s at Berkeley, and he, John Millson and I often played golf at Tilden Park around 7 am. At that hour the ball would disappear into the fog, but we could usually find it if it landed in the fairway. After two or three holes the fog would burn away, and we could see again, which improved our scores but was perhaps less fun. Jerry would also organize skiing trips, and I would frequently join. His car had a trunk so big that skis would fit directly into it, even though skis at that time were about 205 centimeters. The skiing was fun too. Those were good times.

  17. Ali Ashouri says:

    15 years ago,dear Prof. Marsden’book on calculus was our textbook in undergraduate course in BS machanical engineering in Iran. Let me say that my interesting in Mechanics and Applied mathematics was triggered by him. I am really sad hearing his death.He will be in my mind for ever…

  18. Yueheng Lan says:

    Great as he is, Jerry is a nice, modest and warm-hearted person from whom everyone should learn. May he rest in peace in Heaven.

  19. We invited Prof. Marsden to speak in the CAIMS meeting, July 2010 as a plenary speaker in Memorial University, but he could not make it and expressed his intention to come later in another event. This will never happen.

    I am indebted to Jerry for his valuable advice during my PhD studies (2003-2006) at McMaster University, although he was not my advisor. I am one of the many individuals who was inspired by Jerry’s work, and I am saddened. The world has lost a great Mathematician.

    Sunday, 22 Jun, 2003, Jerry replied regarding my question on the existence of a variational principle for full Navier-Stokes equation,

    In my opinion there is one, but it will take time to develop it.”

    Prof. Marsden – the great scientist, may you rest in peace.


  20. There I was, trying to intuitively understand Lie’s and Poincare’s work but, … nothing.

    Then I found (online, I must say) professor’s Marsden notes (MTA). I started in Ch. 5, to then go back to ch. 4, and then to ch. 3, to finally accept that I should start in the first chapter. What a harmonious and correctly organized blend between mathematics and physics.

    I still can remember Mathieu Desbrun presenting discrete calculus in Minnesota and then finding out that J. Marsden was also there, in the intuition, in the ideas; or talking to Peter Schroeder in Bonn about how much I wanted to meet the professor, and telling him how much I was reading just to be able talk to him without stumble. Just a couple of months ago I finished my thesis thanking professor Marsden and V. Arnold for the mathematical beauty of their work. What a sad year.

    Thanks for the trip professor.

  21. The news that Jerry passed away has come as a terrible surprise.

    Jerry, you have been an inspiration and reference for many of us and your many books are still helping many young students to appreciate the beauty of mathematics. You are now gone as a person among us, but you left a lot behind and people will know you have been here for ever.

    - Stefano

  22. Alex Vakakis says:

    Jerold Marsden was a true scholar who inspired us with his papers, lectures and academic presence. I never had the chance to collaborate with him but I felt a deep personal loss when I learned the news, and I know that many of us felt similarly. My deep condolences to his family.

  23. John Junkins says:

    I have had the pleasure of reading several papers published by Jerry over the past 15 years. While I have always admired his work, we have met in person on fewer than ten occasions. However our common love of analytical methods, Hamiltonian mechanics and the beauty of nature revealed through the associated mathematics made our rare discussions fruitful and enjoyable. I have also met several of his very capable cadre of technical offspring – he was obviously a gifted and inspiring mentor. Rest In Peace, Jerry. Your many scholarly contributions ensure your immortality and provide certain evidence of a life well-lived.

  24. Michael McCarthy says:

    I am one of many who have learned from and been inspired by his work. I am saddened by the loss, and deeply grateful for the gifts he has left us.

  25. Rob Lowry says:

    I’ve just come across this very sad news, and I’ll say simply that the course of my life was permanently changed by my intersection with Jerry. As with most, I first came across Jerry’s work in print and not in person, as well as through the Princeton ruminations of my undergraduate mentor and advisor, Larry Schulman. While still an undergraduate, Jerry took the time to send me copies of his papers and out of print books, always followed by a brief note of encouragement. A few years later I found myself at UCSC pursuing an education in global analysis, mechanics and general relativity from Arthur Fischer, Richard Montgomery, and Tony Tromba. Here, Jerry’s work and intellectual spirit was very close at hand. He was always willing to talk and provided invaluable advice to a rather confused young graduate student.Things changed, as they always do, and I moved away from Santa Cruz back to New York. I stayed in touch with Jerry via e-mail and a few years ago, had the great opportunity to meet him again at Snowbird. I was so impressed that Jerry took time out of his busy conference schedule to sit down with me for a half hour or so to discuss some ideas in relativistic elasticity and the GIMMSY project. That conversation has kept me going since. Thanks are not enough Jerry.

    “Nothing good ever ends.”

    -W. Saroyan.

  26. It is with great sorrow that we learned of the death of Jerry Marsden. Within the Humboldt Foundation we are proud to count him among the distinguished Humboldt Awardees. His contribution to science, scholarship and the academic community was of major significance and helped set and maintain standards that will benefit generations to come and for which we are grateful.

  27. Ali Rouhi says:

    Organizing our library today, my wife handed me my old copy of “Vector Calculus” by Marsden and Tromba, which I used as an undergraduate at Reed College. There was a period in an the 80′s when I saw Jerry quite often. I was a physics graduate student at UCSD and my advisor Henry Abarbanel a collaborator of his—and we took a number of trips to Berkeley. So I looked Jerry up on Google and saw this news. It is a tremendous loss. Among Henry’s students there were the select few who understood “reduction.” I became one of them and was very proud of it. The clarity and elegance of his thinking and expression were phenomenal.

    In the late 80′s, before Jerry moved there, I was a postdoc at Caltech in the Applied Math department. I taught the first four chapters of “Foundations of Mechanics” there as a graduate seminar to faculty and graduate students. Going through this text and understanding it, was an intellectual high point in my life. In those days (I don’t know what it’s like now), Jerry’s brand of applied math was quite different from the one practiced at Caltech and regarded with some skepticism. Yet the room was always full—Saffman, Whitham, Meiron and others were there always. I am out of academics now and work in industry, but the one book from those days that is on my shelf is “Foundation of Mechanics.”

  28. Jerry was a gentle mentor and a wonderful man. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had a small number of very meaningful interactions with Jerry. In those interactions, Jerry strongly influenced my trajectory in life.

    Jerry was an optimistic man. But even more so. It seems to me that at every opportunity he could find, Jerry would force optimism on others. In my thesis defense, I found myself in the unusual situation where my committee member, Jerry, was defending my thesis while I was attacking it! Perhaps the most marked instance was this: When he visited my research group at Columbia University, and my students gave presentations, one student presented a method that produced remarkable results, but was clearly a mathematical noodle soup. Nothing made sense. As I criticized the lack of mathematical foundation of the method, Jerry “reprimanded” me with a dose of optimism: “if it is producing good results, you have a responsibility to find the explanation.” This implied there was a good explanation! These words stuck, and instead of shying away from the student’s method, I worked hard with the student to find the underlying reasons for the good results. The resulting publication is one of which I am very proud, and the method is used in many places. It would not have happened without Jerry’s instillation of the idea that a good explanation was simply waiting patiently to be found.

    I was applying for a second research grant with Jerry at the time of his passing. I had just spoken to him a couple weeks prior. He was tired, to be sure, but somehow he was as present as always. Everyone who has met with Jerry, from a stranger to a friend, has noted the remarkable ability that he had to be *present*, always these.

    I feel so extremely fortunate to have known Jerry. While I saw him infrequently, I already miss him dearly, and I think of him often. I am so glad that he was here to touch so many of us. What a treat for the world!

    His kindness, optimism, and ability to engage and be present are traits that I cherish in others and that I will always carry as my memory of him.

  29. M R Soleimany says:

    I knew Professor Marsden through his impressive work. I personally learned Mathematical Analysis using his books. Reading through other peoples’ effusive comments about Dr. Marsden’s passing away, I find that he had touched so many people’s lives and what a wonderful human being he was. My only regret is that I wish I had gotten to know him better. May his great soul be a guiding light throughout his family, friends and students.

  30. When I came to work as a postdoc with Jerry, it always struck me how wonderfully calm, friendly and humorous he was. On many occasions I would be struggling with cotangent bundles and field theories and all that, despairing that I would never get anywhere. With his usual quiet smile Jerry would then tell me to relax and sit back, while he started explaining a seemingly unrelated problem. Pretty soon, it would become clear that this little gem contained all the answers that I was looking for, and provided the essence (and nothing more) of my big, convoluted model.

    Often, when Jerry paused for a few seconds after hearing my long and despaired explanations, it seemed as if he was reaching directly into the platonic universe of mathematics, with the same ease with which an artist selects precisely the right brush for the job.

    I often marveled at his ability to see beyond the petty mathematical/bureaucratic/… problems of everyday. Now I know that he himself had bigger demons to fight with. At the same time, I cannot help but wonder if one day he will meet us again, smiling and telling us “see, I told you it wouldn’t be as difficult as it seemed at the time”…

  31. I just found out the sad news. I think that the rest of the evening I will just meditate on this enormous loss.

    I had the privilege of talking several times about my research with Jerry while I was a Postdoc at Caltech. I have kept all the lecture notes from his class and a nice memory of a couple of long talks at his office. He gave me several pointers and new directions to follow in my applications of Differential Geometry to brain-related research. What an amazing ability to explain difficult concepts and to invite thinking about new ways of approaching a problem.

    Most of all I enjoyed his sense of humor and the vast knowledge on the history of Mathematical concepts and the key players who invented them. Every lecture he would give us a bit of history along with the content. I recall clearly one story about Rodrigues’ programme and its initial dismissal by Hamilton (we were going over Simon Altman’s book on rotations, quaternions, and double groups) and we laughed because each chapter on that book starts out with a great observation by some famous person, but there was one that made Rodrigues look specially really good and I said “well, at least there is one of us out there who did something after the Mayans came up with the zero“. Anyhow, we all laughed and from that day on remembered the incident every time we bumped into each other on campus, even while walking my dog. He would say “better come up with something good to increase the n of Spanish names—although he may have been Portuguese“.

    What a wonderful Teacher and what an incredible Mathematician.

    Rest in peace Professor Marsden.

  32. Al Kovacs says:

    I never met Professor Marsden. I knew him through his research and textbooks. His work served as a guidance to my interest in computational multibody dynamics. Using his research on holonomy I was able to model and simulate an internal rotor system that helped avoid vehicle rollovers. I would have never thought of this concept without Professor Marsden’s creativity. But now that inventive flame has gone out and I feel sad. He was a premier American mathematical physicist and engineer with Canadian root. He was also too young to leave.

  33. Dear Jerry

    I got deeply saddened to hear that you passed away. You are the reason that I am now a mathematician. I kept thinking, one day I would come and see you again and thank you for all the encouragement that you gave me, directly or indirectly—before I even knew you in person—through the theorems you proved. I wanted to thank you for your help, but…. It is too late now. May you rest in peace. I will remember you as my star forever.
    Good bye.

  34. Ma Tian-yu says:

    Dear Jerry,
    I’m deeply saddened to hear that Jerry has passed away, your passing is the greatest loss , and i’m so sorry that i have lost the chance to learn from you.
    Jerry, may the Lord bless your soul, and may you rest in peace.

    MA Tian-yu from China.

  35. Anon Grad Student says:

    I passed my Analysis qualifying exam in large part, by working through Elementary Classical Analysis. It struck a chord in me the way rigor and intuition were combined together, perhaps characteristic of Professor Marsden’s scientific work too. Everytime I get despondent, I go to the library and glance at Dynamics: The Geometry of Behavior and I get excited although I don’t fully understand it. Thank you Professor Marsden for reminding us all that the intersection of Math, Engineering and Physics is non empty.

  36. Mainul Haque, University of Nottingham, UK. says:

    Prof. Jerry is one who gave me an invaluable suggestion for my future research. I have really benefited from the e-mail he wrote on 3rd September 2009 to me.

  37. I was very sad to hear that Jerry passed away.

    Jerry will always be my role model. I deeply admire him for being such a great mathematician and at the same time being so kind and helpful. I am very grateful for all his support.

    Jerry, you were a star for me in your lifetime and will definitely be so forever!

    Claudia Wulff

  38. We were all very sad about Jerry’s passing away. We still vividly remember the ceremony in Summer 2006 where Jerry was awarded an honorary PhD of Surrey. See here and here for some pictures.

    Jerry has been a great inspiration for us, in particular for our Geometry, Fluids and Mechanics Research group at Surrey. Not only has he been one of the world’s greatest mathematicians, but he has also always been kind, positive and supportive.

    We will miss him greatly.

  39. Alex Castro says:

    I had the privilege of meeting Jerry when I was visiting Caltech as an undergraduate student in 2003 and though our interactions were brief, as many people have already mentioned here, the impressions he’s left on me were lasting.

    I still remember clearly his first spiel to us visitors about applied mathematics when I and a colleague had a meeting with him as his formal mentee’s to discuss class work for the upcoming quarters etc. He started by digressing how back in the 70′s-80′s(?) he was lecturing on Lie algebras to a class of very sharp math graduate students in Berkeley and when he asked them about the physical geometric of $\mathfrak{so}(3)$ he got a bunch of blank stares back. I was starting my math major then, but he emphatically said to keep tones of applications in mind and not to forget about the “real world.” I’m sure Jerry had had a much more eloquent way of saying it.

    It was also with Jerry that I had my first exposition to real investigative research. At that time, there was a lot of excitement at CDS about structured integrators based on Veselov’s discretization of mechanics. Back then, one of Jerry’s student (Nawaf) had been working on the geometric mechanical aspects of various toys (like tippe-top or Jellet’s egg) and Melvin had been finishing his graduate work on discrete mechanics. Jerry suggested me to play with the Lagrangian discretization of the tippe-top and run some simulations. Modulo some bugs this enterprise was successful. *I didn’t pursue this question further; this was the first of many serious errors of judgment on my part.

    He also loved to show a picture of Pauli and Bohr squatting while playing with the toy. During this same period, to much of my luck, he got in touch with one of his postdocs (Eva Kanso) who proved to be a terrific mentor since Jerry was on a sabbatical leave in Germany. And I met a horde of very bright students and scientists through Jerry, including my adviser-to-be Richard Montgomery.

    Much of my fortune in academia came from this brief contact with Jerry and I thought the least I could do was pay him a short tribute here. Thank you Dr. Marsden! You rocked! Needless to say the school of mathematics that survives him shall last for many generations to come.

  40. Harris McClamroch says:

    I would like to add my voice to the many who have expressed their admiration for Jerry’s leadership in the development of geometric mechanics and control. His research has been an inspiration and guide for my own work during the past twenty years. His personal warmth and humanity, evident in his teaching, lectures, and personal discussions and collaborations, were in the best traditions of scientific inquiry. Jerry’s publications will continue to be influential for many generations, and he will be fondly remembered by those of us who were fortunate to know him.

  41. Jerry was my PhD advisor at Berkeley.
    He worked with me, or I worked for him—hard to tell—from about 1982 to 1986. We continued collaborating for about 5 years after that.

    As I continue walking along on the mathematical academic, I am more and more impressed at what a great advisor and motivator he was. He kept alive a feeling of magic and wonder about how mathematics interacts with the rest of the universe and within its various branches. He seemed to always have time for students. I read my first research paper line-by-line, and most lines were marked up densely in red. I think it took three rewrites before he accepted it.

    Here are two maxims of Jerry’s:
    “Write a paper so that at least you yourself are able to read it five years from now.”
    “When it comes to references and giving credit, err on the side of generosity.”

    He was amazingly optimistic about research projects. Around 1983 he got me involved in a project called GIMMSY. He told me “If I had two solid weeks, I could finish this. For you, it will take about a month.” 37 years later GIMMSY remains unfinished. But more often than not his buoyant optimism carried him and his coworkers through to success on projects almost too numerous to list.

    Both my parents have died. An advisor is a kind of parent from a parallel universe —the academic/mathematical/control/physics universe most posters here inhabit for a good chunk of their time. It may take years for his death to really soak in. I was heartened by the posts, stories, and the gratitude people here have expressed for the presence of Jerry in their lives and careers.

  42. Faryad Darabi Sahneh says:

    A few years ago, I was very passionate about learning differential geometry, specifically, the geometric approach to mechanics. It was a wonderful period. Each day was a new experience. Things were great except when I would pick one of the Marsden’s books or papers. Reading them, I would hate differential geometry and anything related to geometry. The language looked ugly and each line was just a headache. Still, for no reason, I used to refer to his writings most of the times. I believe, through those pages, something mysterious was calling me. Time passed. I got to understand the concepts to some extent and got familiar with Marsden’s language. “How could a mind be so rigorous?” I was amazed. Marsden had become a legend to me. I could just spend hours reading through his papers, watching his videos, and reading about him.

    This afternoon, exhausted from work, I decided to google his name and read something from/about him as a break. How shocked was I when this page came up! I am overwhelmed by sadness and sorrow for losing him. We are losing our treasures. Is the new generation capable of following their path? Marsden is always alive in my heart and memory. I miss you Prof. J. E. Marsden!

  43. Henk Broer says:

    After Nikolai Nekhorochev, Vladimir Arnold, Hans Duistermaat and Floris Takens, now also Jerry Marsden passed away, all in a short time interval. We do miss all of them a lot, their enthusiasm, their inspiration and their friendship.

    Rest in peace, Jerry!

  44. Asghar Aryanfar says:

    Prof. Marsden was a great teacher. I had a course in dynamical systems in his last year and it was just so amazing that it made me really interested to see that relatively simple math was describing the most complicated theorems. This was the initial driving force that led me to change my research area later on.

    I remember when I sent a few emails to talk to Jerry to take me on as a student. Although he was not able to do that, he was trying his best to answer my emails as comprehensively as it could be, explaining different areas and giving directions on them very clearly, i will never forget your advice Jerry.

    Rest in Peace.

  45. I suppose you know the sad news
    that Jerry passed away last night.

    We were always looking forward
    to the next time we would see him.

    We’d take our work as far we could get,
    then Jerry would give it a jolt of thought
    (as Tudor called it) and we’d be moving again.

    Good feeling, like the engine starting just when we
    thought that our battery was about to die.

    Now we are a bit more on our own
    than we had ever wanted to be.

    When Jerry got sick, I was sure he would beat it,
    at least for a few more years. I told him so, too.

    I told him my image was only of him getting stronger.
    And he smiled that smile.

    I’ll always hold that thought, Jerry getting stronger.
    Jerry’s smile. Jerry was a masterpiece.

    Lately I’ve been rereading Jerry’s work.
    It’s good to hear his calm voice again in his writings.
    There’s many a beautiful message in them.

    So like Jerry to find just the right line and lay it out clearly
    for the rest of us to carry forward.

    Sad sad news.

  46. David Schneider says:

    I am very sad to learn of Jerry’s passing. I met him around 1996. I was a graduate student in Seattle starting to work in the area of mechanics. I had Jerry and Tudor’s book. While visiting my folks in the Los Angeles area, I, with my Dad’s encouragement, contacted Jerry for guidance regarding my mathematical future. We met, talked, and this led to a wonderful adventure – while my advisor was on a six month sabbatical – I went to UC Santa Cruz (where Tudor was at the time) to study with an expert in the field who was visiting from Los Alamos (Darryl Holm). This in turn led to a very engaging thesis problem. I’m very glad to have met Jerry and grateful for the opportunities that followed.

  47. Couro Kane says:

    I am so sad and at a loss of what to say. Thoughts of deep gratitude and admiration come to me. Jerry has always been a guiding star, a mentor and a source of inspiration. I will always remember the hours I spent as a postdoc in his office discussing diverse subjects.
    Working with you was a dream that came true. Thank you Jerry

  48. Jeroen Lamb says:

    I am shocked and extremely sad to learn of Jerry Marsden’s passing. Before I met Jerry I had admired his work and since meeting him (in 1998) I got to know him as a very generous person. He has been an inspiration and was almost too ready to support and help young colleagues like myself (I often wondered where he found time to answer e-mails so promptly). Jerry will be very much missed. His memory and inspiration will live on within all of us who were so fortunate to get to know him, and within many others that have been inspired by his publications and lectures.

  49. Yong Wang says:

    I’m greatly saddened by Dr. Marsden’s passing. While I was a graduate student at Caltech, I was fortunate enough to take his course on Geometric Mechanics. Dr. Marsden’s concise and elucidative style of teaching made the abstract concepts much more accessible to me. I also remember on one or two occasions when I had some good ideas in my research, Dr. Murray would tell me “Let’s go and talk to Jerry about it”. Dr. Marsden was also very kind to write recommendation letters when I applied for jobs, which later I learned is critical for me to get the job here in China. He’s been such a wonderful teacher, a true scholar, and a towering figure whose research papers and books influenced many old and young Chinese scholars in many areas, including physics, mathematics, mechanics, and scientific computing.

  50. Brunhilde, Jochen und Christina Tegtmeyer (Emmerthal, Germany) says:

    Lieber Jerry,
    gerne erinnern wir uns an unser Kennenlernen 1994 in San Francisco. Wir werden Dich als liebenswerten Menschen in Erinnerung behalten.
    Deiner lieben Barbara wünschen wir viel Kraft und alles erdenklich Gute.
    In liebevollem Gedenken an Dich Jerry,
    Brunhilde, Jochen und Christina

  51. Sergey Pekarsky says:

    Jerry was an amazing person and a great mentor and advisor, extremely supportive throughout my 5 wonderful years at Caltech. I’ll be always grateful for that.

  52. Gloria Sanchez Brewster says:

    Jerry had a great and exciting mind that inspired others and through which he will continue to be present in our lives. He had a peaceful and kind soul for lifetime friends.

    My strong pillar, thank you,
    Gloria Sanchez Brewster

  53. Partha Guha says:

    I am deeply saddened by the death of my friend, philosopher, and guide Professor Jerry Marsden. I am dumbstruck and have fallen into an abysmal sense of loss. No words would be adequate to translate my feelings.

    In his last message he wrote to me that he just came back home after 5 days in hospital and doctors were starting to figure out his problem. So I thought that he would recover from his illness soon. I was neither his student nor his post-doc, but still he continually inspired me for most of my insignificant research career. He somehow found moments out of his valuable time to read my drafts and sharpen my ideas. He used to write reference letters for me whenever I asked for them. His kind and generous support that I have enjoyed shall be a lifelong memory for me. Jerry was one of the finest selfless human beings we have had the privilege of having amidst us. He was a gifted researcher, great teacher, trustworthy friend, and gentle mentor, all rolled into one.

    I lost my academic mentor. May his soul rest in peace.


  54. Sevak Tahmasian says:

    I have not met this great man, because I’m not a student of Caltech and not a student at all. I just know him from his books and the persons who know him. Exactly two months before his passing away I sent an email to him and asked to introduce some good books in nonlinear dynamics and control, without expecting answer. But he did answer. Fortunately I have his email and will keep it always. Today when I heard the news from my friend, it was a shock to me and I’m so sad. I wish when I die, someone who doesn’t know me becomes sad.


  55. Ben Leimkuhler says:

    Jerry was instrumental in getting me out of a rut I had climbed into early in my career. Without him I’d probably still be there. He was always a great inspiration.

  56. Arash Yavari says:

    The first time I came across Jerry’s name was in Tehran when I was a second year undergraduate student. Someone showed me his elasticity book. I borrowed the book and looked at it for a couple of days. Everything in the book looked very complicated at the time and I could not imagine I will someday meet this great man and that he will have a great impact on my career. I was very fortunate to have him as a mentor, collaborator, and a friend.

    I met Jerry in 2000 a few months after arriving at Caltech as a graduate student. I started interacting with him more seriously around 2003 and was fortunate to collaborate with him on a few projects after leaving Caltech at 2005 until a couple of months before his last days. He had a unique vision and a very special style of attacking problems. He was very generous and a true gentleman. I am deeply saddened and shocked. He was very encouraging and full of energy and life. I can’t believe next time in Pasadena I won’t be able to see this brilliant mathematician and wonderful person.

    Dear Jerry:

    In the last few months every time I asked if you were recovering and wished you a quick recovery you said yes you were recovering but not as fast as you liked. I couldn’t imagine things were so bad. Thank you for everything. You will be greatly missed but your passion for mechanics lives on in each of us whose lives you touched.


  57. Karen Uhlenbeck says:

    I am so sad. Shocked. We met in 1968. We are age mates. Jerry was a topnotch mathematician and the world is not the same without him. I miss him already.

  58. Hong Wang says:

    Dear Prof. Jerry Marsden:

    I do not want you to leave us. Just as you have known that it motivated us to finish a lot of work since you joined the research. I am very grateful to your understanding, support and help in more than two-years of cooperation. Dear Jerry, I know you also like peace and quiet, but, wherever you will go, please do not leave us far away. We long for you very much.

    Hong Wang


  59. Mark Alber says:

    Jerry was my thesis adviser, collaborator and my friend. In addition
    to appreciation of the beauty of applied mathematics, I learned
    three very important principles in life from him: work hard, look for the
    positive in people and be an optimist. I will miss Jerry very much.

  60. Rouslan Krechetnikov says:

    I am very grateful for the years of knowing Jerry: he was a thoughtful friend and wonderful colleague. Discussions with Jerry always brought deep insights and new angles to the problem. I remember when I was going to meet him first time, I was thrilled and after the meeting felt filled with Jerry’s light. Over the years these feelings have never faded. Jerry will always be my guiding light.

  61. Jerry is a “true mathematician” besides his tremendous mathematical contributions. Such a valuable mathematician is very rare in the contemporary mathematical community, yet his value is so precious for the future of mathematics!

    He is a dedicated and loyal friend. Any time I asked him to write a letter for me, his letter was always the first to arrive. We never co-authored any paper, but I truly admired all his work! Even though we met three brief times when I was at UCLA, we kept electronic communications once in a while always on purely mathematics.

    It is difficult to understand the meaning of life, but I am sure Jerry had a meaningful life!

    Y. Charles Li

  62. Houman Owhadi says:

    Dear Jerry,
    Thanks for the time that you have given despite your struggle with illness. You were always very private about your health so the news of your passing came as a shock and now I realize how precious that time was. I will miss our collaboration and your friendship.



    I am standing on the sea shore,
    A ship sails in the morning breeze and starts for the ocean.
    She is an object of beauty and I stand watching her
    Till at last she fades on the horizon and someone at my side says:
    “She is gone.”

    Gone! Where?
    Gone from my sight – that is all.
    She is just as large in the masts, hull and spars as she was when I saw her
    And just as able to bear her load of living freight to its destination.
    The diminished size and total loss of sight is in me,
    not in her.

    And just at the moment when someone at my side says,
    “She is gone”,
    There are others who are watching her coming, and other voices take up a glad shout:
    “There she comes”
    - and that is dying.

    William Blake

  63. I first got to know Jerry through his work. I was lucky enough to meet him at a conference in Colorado in 1986. We talked and this led to a wonderful collaboration and friendship. It is impossible to say just how much I will miss Jerry as a mentor, colleague, and friend.


  64. Alberto Saa says:

    The influence of Prof. Marsden on my generation was immense and it was a real privilege to have known him. We are, in particular, very grateful for his generosity and mentoring support for Brazilian students.

    With deepest respect,

    Alberto Saa

  65. Katheryn Broersma says:

    Jerry Marsden was a true gentleman if I ever knew one. One time I went with his research group to a workshop in Santa Barbara. On the trip home, I was assigned to ride in his car group. I will never forget how when we went out to dinner, he went out of his way to open and hold the car door open for me. Jerry was always so polite, his conversation seasoned with concern and kindness, and his smile always so encouraging. I’m very sad he won’t be sitting in his office at Caltech anymore.

  66. Carsten Hartmann says:

    I was deeply saddened to hear of Jerry’s death. Leaving aside his gentleness and positivity, I cannot forget the enjoyment and childlike curiosity with which he approached nature, yet striving for a better understanding of why things are as they are.

    I am very grateful for the time I had with him when I was visiting Caltech, and I will miss his passion for asking naive questions.


  67. P. S. Krishnaprasad says:

    Jerry Marsden meant a great deal to me. Having met Jerry in the pages of the first edition of Foundations of Mechanics, I had the privilege in the ensuing decades of collaborating with him on geometric mechanics and control theory. As a teacher, collaborator, and friend, he remained close and a symbol of all that is good. For me, and for many others around the world, he lives on in his work and in the perspectives he shared. Cheryl and I extend our deepest sympathies to Barbara, Alison, Christopher and families.

  68. Chang Liu says:

    Dear Jerry,
    I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the bad news. You are one of the best guys in geometric mechanics in the world. Your passing is the greatest loss to us. We can’t read new papers from you again. I hope that you would be more happy in heaven.
    Best wishes,
    Chang Liu

  69. Cheryl Snell says:

    Elegy for Our Friend

    He couldn’t resist weather,
    and called out the storm,
    tried to make it show its face.
    Air bulged with sound, and the wind
    lashed debris from the trees.

    The world grew still, and a dragonfly,
    transparent wings on a blue-tinged stick,
    hovered above a broken cricket
    dragging through backyard thatch.

    When it rose up, sudden as a mind changing,
    we sagged with breath held
    against the last thing we wanted to see:
    a pair of wings escaping,
    the world left out of reach.

  70. Marco Castrillon-Lopez says:

    Dear Jerry,

    When I received the news of september 21, it touched my heart. I realized the strong link, friendship and influence you had projected on me. I remeber the first day we met in Spain and the fruitful conversations at your office. Inspiration and joy of Mathematics! I also have wonderful memories of the dinner at Barbara’s and your place and the relaxing dog wanderings. I will miss you.
    To you, Jerry. Para ti, Jerry.

  71. Henry Jacobs says:

    My father was a fan of geometric viewpoint of classical mechanics and purchased a copy of Foundations of Mechanics (FOM) while he was a student. I remember looking in the book as early as middle school and browsing the pictures. After learning about Chaos from non-technical books in High school FOM taunted me for many years. I suspect my father had a similar experience because it’s a very dense book and I’m still working on it. Sprinkled throughout are pictures of strange surfaces adorned with arrows folding into themselves. Without any math literacy one can’t help but be curious. You know before you understand the content that the minds behind FOM have deep insight into “what’s really going on”. That physical systems have more structure than meets the eye and are more than a listing of equations. Reading the best Marsden publications was like being let in on a secret, as if God wrote it down in code, and Jerry managed to get a portion of the key-card.
    I was able to work as one of Jerry’s graduate students for 2 years (nearly a decade after first peering into FOM), and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was. Early on we were drafting a proposal for NSFGRF. In my personal statement I mentioned how invariant manifolds saved a Japanese lunar probe, Hiten, from being wasted (see Belbruno’s book “Fly Me to the Moon”). He got so excited that I had brought this up, and opened a video on his computer to show me the launch of a rocket. The rocket had a probe on it which would use some of the control techniques he and many others developed, related to techniques used to save Hiten. He told me that the rocket launch was one of the greatest experiences of his life. You can tell he was good at inspiring others, because he had such passion and he loved sharing it. It was an honor to talk to a man which I’ve only grown to respect more everyday. We are all so lucky to have had him in our lives. I hope we all can inspire other children the way he inspired me. A wonderful legacy.

  72. Perhaps I never spoke more highly of someone than of Jerry, my PhD thesis advisor. He was an amazing person and an extremely gifted mathematician. He was very open minded, broad and deep in his research and he had an incredible talent at explaining difficult mathematical concepts with a few very well chosen words. He also knew extremely well how to reach to people with a wide range of mathematical abilities and interests. Jerry had an immense impact on my professional development and he will always constitute a role model for me. I am deeply saddened by his loss.

  73. Anna Pandolfi says:

    Dear Jerry,

    This is a very sad moment for all of us, and I cannot find the proper words to express my feelings. You have been a beloved man and professor. I will always keep you in my thoughts and in my memories.


  74. Ashley Moore says:

    It is difficult to know what to say at a time like this. I am deeply saddened by Jerry’s passing, but I keep remembering what a remarkable teacher and speaker he was. I first met Jerry at the University of Colorado in fall 2005, while I was still an undergraduate there. He gave a talk about his work – it was the most interesting presentation I had ever seen, and his excitement about the work was truly palpable. I was especially impressed by how much credit he gave to his collaborators and students.

    That talk set me on the path I am on today. Someone once told me that when considering graduate school, I should pick an advisor, not a school. After that talk, I knew where I wanted to go to graduate school. Jerry has been a wonderful advisor and mentor. He has a remarkable way of explaining complicated topics clearly and simply. He once described invariant manifolds like sprinklers and that image has stuck with me ever since.

    I really wish I could thank Jerry for everything he’s done for me, for all his guidance, and for sharing his wisdom with me. I will be forever grateful for the time I had with him.

  75. Sameer Jalnapurkar says:

    Jerry’s passing has left behind a feeling of emptiness.

    I will always cherish his amazing positivity and helpfulness, his clarity, and his willingness to ask the deepest questions.

  76. Jerry’s passing touched me deeply. He was my thesis advisor, mentor and collaborator for almost twenty years. As one who was fortunate to have worked closely with Jerry, I shall always be grateful for his teaching, insights, guidance, friendship, and leadership. These qualities of his are well known and will surely be elaborated on by many others.

    However, what I shall always cherish is the memory of Jerry and Barbara laden with heavy dishes of home-cooked food on warmed plates in a picnic basket, coming down the hospital corridor, delivering food to me when I was hospitalized with a major injury.

    Jerry, I shall miss your profound intellect and your great kindness.

  77. Molei Tao says:

    I was talking to Sina on Skype about our circuit integrator paper with Jerry on Tuesday evening, and after the discussion we chatted a bit. Sina told me about her visit to Jerry’s place in August, and we were both looking forward to our next discussion with him. Really, we both knew that Jerry was bothered by some health issue, but we, like everybody else, believed that he will come to his office again tomorrow, use his great mind again to lead us to the next level of research. In our eyes, there will be absolutely no difficulty that Jerry can’t overcome. But we really didn’t know that he has already been bravely fighting with the killer for so many years. Jerry is always so calm and cool, and while he was constantly fighting with the demon, the demon appeared to us like nothing to him. Everyone knows Jerry is one of the best contemporary mathematicians, many know how awesome an adviser he is, and I also want to add that how a respectable fighter he is. Maybe all these are all causally related. Recalling our prayer for Jerry after that discussion, I had a strange feeling. It was like he was connected to us spiritually at that moment, and he was giving us his best wishes, telling us not to be sad but instead carry on the work. And we certainly will carry on the work. Jerry’s immortal work will follow him and shed perpetual light on science. And we, ‘are all part of his legacy’, said Wendy, ‘he hopes all of you can continue the work’. Hearing that, I burst into tears.

    Rest in peace, Dr. Marsden.

  78. Marina Baktis says:

    Jerry and Barbara Marsden adopted one of their dogs from my rescue a few years ago. Ruby was an amputee that no one wanted because of his disability. Jerry and Barbara saw past that, and immediately loved this little boy. They’ve since adopted other dogs from me, we’ve since become friends, but Ruby remains the extra special dog that brought us all together. Ruby brought a lot of comfort to Jerry and Barbara during Jerry’s illness. Jerry was a sweet and gentle man and I feel very lucky to have known him.

    Marina Baktis
    Mutts and Moms Rescue

  79. Judy MacInnes says:

    It is my 70th birthday to-day and I am missing a phone call from my brother Jerry.
    Jerry was a wonderful brother and uncle to our daughters. We have been so fortunate to have spent many wonderful times with him and I will cherish those memories. We visited often at our homes and also got together for weddings, birthdays, graduations, and funerals. One of my favorite trips with him was to our birthplace of Ocean Falls. He was a great comfort to me last year when we lost our daughter Kathy. He was such a kind and generous man. I will miss him very much.
    Rest in peace Jerry.

  80. Eva Kanso says:

    I don’t know how to start my message. I received the news about Jerry and it is overwhelming to think that Jerry is no longer here. He was an exceptional man in all regards and working with him was both a privilege and a life changing experience for me. I learned so much from my short interaction with him and I will miss him tremendously.

    Today I had the first meeting with my students since I heard the news about Jerry. We began by observing a moment of silence to salute the passing of a great man!


  81. Jair Koiller says:

    My gratitude to Jerry is immense, even not having been his student nor a direct research collaborator.   I learned from Jerry that mathematics is a social endeavor, and fun to do collectively.  In this moment of sadness, I would like to join so many people that are trying to comfort his family, by telling how much Jerry was and is still important to us.

    When someone like Jerry leaves so early,  is it perhaps to get everything prepared? There will be seminars—run by Jerry—from the Book in which God wrote the best and most elegant proofs!   

    Jerry, thanks for helping me, and so many people,  with your generous suggestions and discussions, and by publicizing our work in talks at meetings and in your review articles.

    My personal thanks:

    -  for being part of the Calculus teaching assistants team at Berkeley in the early 70′s. I remember vividly your tips on teaching (“give names to the axis”) and your lectures in Evans 10, for a crowd of 200. I am still a
    hard core user of the Marsden/Weinstein Calculus book.

    -  for that day, in the coffee room at the 10th floor, that you came, with your seducing smile to a group of grad students. “Alan and I just found a way to show that  the reduced rigid body  equations are still Hamiltonian”.
    Thanks for soon after giving me a reprint of  “that little ROMP paper”.

    -  in the early eighties (my first sabbatical), thanks for giving me two generous suggestions that sparked my career:  to apply Melnikov’s method to a rigid body with flywheels and to the 4 vortex problem; in the late
    eighties and early nineties, thanks for inviting me to a series of great summer workshops and small meetings. With your soft commanding voice, you promoted friendhip and collaborative work.

    [ I remember a trip from Berkeley to Colorado in your big van, with your students. After driving across the Sierras, the road becames straight.  You asked us to drive in turns;  you opened a small desk in the back to proof read one of your books! At that moment I learned that I should try to organize my time (to no avail).  But I learned another lesson: when we reached Reno, you took us to the Casino. We had a great inexpensive buffet meal.  With the change, we tried the luck on the machines. Guess who was the only one that got the lunch money back? ]

    -  Thanks, in the 2000′s, for inviting me to visit and lecture at Caltech. This was an unique experience. It lead to an exchange program that I organized with Richard Murray that lasted five years.  Busy as you were, you had time to advise the undergraduates sent over in that program.


  82. Jenny Santoso says:

    Dear Jerry,

    I just learned, just right now–on Prof. Arieh Iserles’ Facebook wall–that you had passed away! I even didn’t know that you were still ill…so, it is very unexpected and very sad news for all of us!

    Arieh had written it on his Facebook wall last Wednesday, but I was very busy last week, and not at home but in Lausanne for a crash course! There I met Christiane and many others again. There I also met Tudor in his office. However, Tudor didn’t say anything about you… I even met François there too. It was a big surprise for both François and me that we met there at EPFL, because I didn’t realize that he was in Lausanne; I thought he was in Paris at CNRS, his new work place. But by accident he was there the same week that I was. By chance I even got to know Prof. Goldin too. His nick name is exactly like yours, so, I thought of you when Prof. Neeb told me that that kind person I have met must be Jerry Goldin!

    On the postcards that I wrote from Lausanne/EPFL last Friday, Sep 24, 2010, I wrote remembering how all had started: yes, it was in Lausanne at EPFL, and with you, Christiane, Tudor, Alan, Darryl, Edriss, Peter and many others, some of whom I have met there are even like my own family. So, I certainly love to return to Lausanne. However, as I said, I didn’t know that you had passed away.

    I even still remember how we met for the first time…yes, it was in Lausanne, at Darryl’s 60th birthday workshop. I told you that I had met Melvin in Castro Urdiales, so I had seen the falling cat picture before: in Castro Urdiales for the first time, and at your talk for the second time ;-) , and you were excited to know how his lecture was. It was a short time before we wanted to go home, but there were many stairs. It was dark and slippery too. You walked in front of me, and you said, “Be careful.” It was really kind of you. Thank you so much for your attention. Several months later I injured my foot and wrote to you that I wished you were there to say “be careful” so that I wouldn’t have injured my foot.

    For sure I won’t forget your kindness, your many kind e-mails, and also the way you wrote them: only you from all of my friends, acquaintances, family/relatives, and professors who wrote always included the date (and a cc to yourself) when you wrote/answered the e-mails. You always answered the e-mails immediately too! You also always wrote short but clear, very kind and caring too! Thanks, Jerry!

    The idea for making a puzzle of pictures (for Alan and Tudor) was indirectly from you too: your slides for Darryl’s 60th birthday. I will put some pictures there with your slides of Darryl’s 60th birthday ;-) .

    Pictures in memory of Jerry Marsden

    Indeed I love your funny slides very much. That gave me inspiration/the idea to make that kind of poster/puzzle of pictures especially for Tudor since you couldn’t come to his 60th b’day workshop last July 2010.

    Also, thanks a lot for the poster templates that you had put on your website to help us in preparing a poster, I do appreciate it very highly, and won’t forget. Thanks a lot Jerry for your inspiration, your kindness and simply for everything. I won’t forget it, and again, I appreciate all very highly. Thanks a lot, dear Jerry!

    I do remember your kind e-mails about Ratiu Fest, and that I should ask Tudor and Juan Pablo about my plan to invite also Mrs. Herta Mueller, because they were the ones who made all decisions about who all to be invited to RatiuFest.

    The last contact I had with you was on your 68th birthday. I wrote an e-mail on your birthday, and also sent you a card from Aarhus, where I was that week, attending Maxim’s lectures. However I didn’t know that it was the last time I could write a postcard to you. Now I regret a bit that I cancelled my plan to go to Caltech to attend your course last year, which I did because you thought that I already mastered the material — thanks, Jerry, for believing in me — and because I had lectures in Stuttgart then. So, our meeting in Stanford was our last meeting :-( . Very sad and unexpected for me and all!!! However, it was and is a big honour for me to have ever met, got to know, and stayed in touch with you, dear Jerry.

    May the Lord bless your soul, and may you rest in peace. We won’t forget you, and we will miss you! You will be missed and remembered ALWAYS!

    To your family and relatives: I’m so sorry for your loss! May the warm memories of your dear one soothe you in this difficult time and help you be at peace. My thoughts and prayers are with you, and remember that those we love will live forever in our hearts.
    With deepest sympathy…

  83. Wei L.T. Xu says:

    It is so sad to learn that the only person in this world who could understand my thesis up to full details just passed away.

    Jerry, may the Lord bless your soul, and may you rest in peace.

  84. Jerry Marsden was an important figure in control, because although he had no roots in control, he was committed to building intellectual bridges from outside the field. He was a mathematician—Canadian by birth—who received his PhD training at Princeton. For most of his career, he was professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley, but he retired and assumed a position at Caltech. I know nothing of the details, but I believe Richard Murray was instrumental in bringing Jerry to Caltech.

    Jerry was a major figure in promoting the use of geometry in the study of mechanics. The book with Ralph Abraham, Foundations of Mechanics, might be regarded as a biblical text in this effort. Jerry became interested in control—and in particular the control of mechanical systems. This interest lead to his seeking out people like Roger Brockett, P.S. Krishnaprasad, Tony Bloch, Shankar Sastry, and through Shankar, Richard Murray when Richard was a graduate student at Berkeley.

    Jerry had many productive collaborations with people doing geometric nonlinear control theory, and he was highly regarded and even well loved, I would say.


  85. I remember the excitement I felt when I first glanced through the pages of the first edition of Abraham-Marsden, coupled with the conviction that this material would make a difference in my life and probably the lives of others.

    Jerry’s passing does mark the end of a great career. I do not see another person on the horizon with the mix of interests he championed. He has certainly left behind a large body of work but also a lot of people who will miss him deeply.


  86. Jerry has been a great source of inspiration for me. It was a great honor to have him in my PhD thesis committee at Caltech and I am grateful for all his help. I am deeply saddened by the great loss to the mathematical community.

  87. Mason Porter says:

    When I got the e-mail with the news, I wrote up a bit in a blog entry. I’d like to add a bit more here.

    I first met Jerry when I was a sophomore at Caltech. I found out that he had just arrived in the fall and I had spent the summer doing a reading course from his Manifolds, Tensor Analysis, and Applications book. I had also seen his name that summer in his elementary real analysis textbook, so he was a larger-than-life name on a couple of my recent books at that point. I arranged a meeting to get the books autographed (which eventually felt silly well after the fact, but not at the time) and started a brief conversation that led to a SURF research project in summer 1996. I think I was his first Caltech SURF student, so I think he might have felt relieved when he started working with others that not all Caltech undergrads were as strange as I am. (My blog entry has a 1997-modified version of my SURF report, which I tried to get published many times—despite several gentle comments from Jerry, which I ignored but was never bothered by, that the paper wasn’t at that kind of level.) That was my first research experience, and it was unsurprisingly a very good one.

    I later took 3 terms worth of courses from Jerry during my senior year, and the lectures were great and always very clear. And eventually there were all the countless recommendation letters (or perhaps only a countable infinity of them?) that Jerry wrote on my behalf. We remained in e-mail contact over the years and would talk briefly at the Snowbird conference. He continued to give me good advice—sometimes solicited and sometimes not—which I occasionally even followed.

    Perhaps my weirdest request for Jerry was when I needed a replacement ‘guest star’ for the audio soundtrack of my Ditch Day stack. I had a janitor character who I specifically wanted to be someone with a monotone voice and a physics professor had backed out, so I recruited Jerry at the last minute to be the assistant janitor and record some lines for a few minutes. The next time we had class, he asked me when Ditch Day was. I was a senior, so of course I told him it was “Tomorrow”. The response to that was a deadpan “Forget I asked.”

    The e-mail on Wednesday evening (UK time) was very upsetting to me (and I definitely shed quite a few tears, although our relationship was only a professional one), and I’ll always be grateful for the mentorship early in my career, which will always mean a lot to me. In a comment that I am sure will be said by many, I doubt I’d be where I am now without it.

    Mason Porter

  88. Anthony Blaom says:

    Jerry was a kind and encouraging “thesis father” whose enthusiasm for mathematics was indefatigable. I feel exceedingly grateful to have received his guidance. I continue to learn from, and be inspired by, his huge mathematical legacy.

  89. Steve Bailey says:

    I have always been proud of my cousin Jerry. As children we shared many wonderful family occasions together. As we grew older it became obvious to me that he was gifted with a very special kind of intellect. I’ve enjoyed following his career and his life journey. He has always made time in his very busy schedule for his extended family over the years – aunts and uncles and cousins in particular – and we’ve been able to enjoy special visits with him. I served for a number of years as a department head and vice principal at the high school from which Jerry graduated – Burnaby South in Burnaby, British Columbia. He is indeed a distinguished alumnus of that tradition-filled school.

    An occasion of particular joy was our family celebration of Jerry’s 65th birthday at the St. Street Grill in Port Moody, BC. To our amazement, Barbara picked up the tab for all of us – a tribute to her deep love for him and her desire to honor his family’s celebration of this milestone.

    We have many wonderful family pictures to remember all kinds of special occasions – from visits to the beach with our Bailey grandparents right up until that very special birthday celebration. They will become a significant part of our Bailey family history.

    Jerry’s contributions to research and development and to the teaching of physics and mathematics literally around the world are monumental. They stand as a lasting tribute to his life and work. Those who come after him will truly stand on the shoulders of a giant.

    Rest in Peace.

  90. Lubov Mazur says:

    Although we knew him as the guy next door who had much better things to do than paint the trim or join in the murder of junipers, Jerry also had a wonderfully funny side. On a drive from Calais to Paris, after a particularly exciting Channel Crossing on a hovercraft we dubbed “Leaping Lloyd”, Jerry began telling what were to become “The Daddy Bluet Stories”. He related the event that precipitated the aversion to raisins suffered by his son Chris to this day (do not tell the child they are flies), and how he raised the ire of the neighborhood mothers (do not demonstrate to the children that a monster resides in the trunk of your car). Those were just two of the occasions when Daddy blew it. All of the stories began with “Once upon a time, long, long ago, far, far away”, which was soon set to a jaunty tune that could, at any moment, inspire Jerry to launch into another episode. All five of us, crammed into an Austin, including the car seat occupied by his daughter Alison, were squeeling with laughter and weaving in the roadway. The French had good reason to think we were nuts.

    Good bye Jerry. A light has gone out everywhere.

  91. I was most upset to hear that Jerry has passed away. Our group of researchers feel more sorry than we can say. I remember him with great afford and respect, and the news of Jerry’s passing is a terrible shock. Though I have met him a few times, I was impressed profoundly, and he has been a guiding star in my research activities. About twenty year ago, I was given a number of copies of his works and a draft of his new book with his name card. Since then, I have been interested in what he thought of and what he aimed at. But a bright star has fallen. Jerry’s works on his home page shall not be updated, which will be an inexpressible sorrow to geometric mechanics.
    Please accept my deepest condolences. I only hope and pray that Jerry’s family will find the strength to bear up under sad loss.
    Best regards,
    Toshihiro Iwai 

  92. Melvin Leok says:

    Dear Jerry,

    Since I started working with you in my sophomore year as an undergraduate at Caltech, you have had a profound influence on me as a mathematician and a person. You are an academic father figure to me, and who I am as a professor and a mathematician has been shaped in uncountable ways by the privilege I had of working with you.

    You are the embodiment of a mathematician that was both broad and deep, and I was always able to rely on you for deep insights and broad perspective on mathematics and their relationship to applications. Perhaps your most lasting influence on me is the issue of mathematical taste, that it is possible for mathematics to be simultaneously beautiful and useful, and this is an ideal that I strive to live up to on a daily basis.

    I will always remember your generosity with your time, and how supportive you were even during my period of youthful rebellion while I was trying to find myself mathematically. I remember how excited we both were at the prospect of me moving to UCSD, and how we hoped that this would allow us to work together more closely again. I remember getting a call from you two weeks ago on Labor Day, when we discussed our upcoming grant proposal, and the video conference the next day. While you still appeared somewhat frail, you seemed ready to return to work, which made the news of your passing so much more unexpected.

    You are my advisor, mentor, role model, collaborator, colleague, and friend, and you will be missed and remembered always.

    With fondness,

    Melvin Leok

  93. Mathieu Desbrun says:

    Thanks for all these years, Jerry.
    It is rather hard to describe how influential Jerry has been to me and my students without sounding over the top. We’ve just gathered earlier today at the Red Door and told each other anecdotes about Jerry around a drink, from how great a story teller he was when explicating the roots of this principle or that equation, to how well he could explain deep concepts with a single figure or a simple example. For all of us, he was a mentor, a role model, a source of inspiration (we literally relished his geometric insights), a great supporter, all rolled up into one singular person who we loved to have around at Caltech. He still is around, in many ways—and will be for quite a while. I’ll miss seeing him in meetings, at parties, walking from and to his car near mine. Heck, I’ll miss him, period. I already do.
    Here’s to you, Jerry.