EL PAÍS Obituary (English Translation)

EL PAÍS, Spain
Thursday October 21, 2010
[ The most influential Spanish newpaper in the world ]
Original Version in Spanish…

Jerry E. Marsden, A Mathematics Giant
by Manuel de Leon

Jerry Marsden was a gigantic figure in Mathematics, one of an amazing activity. He passed away September 21st 2010, aged 68, at his home in Pasadena (California) due to cancer. He developed very prolific research in the area of geometrical mechanics, integrating fundamental math with applied math. His interests were very broad: rigid body mechanics, fluid mechanics, elasticity, plasma physics, field theory, relativity, dynamical system.

He was a pioneer in numerous research fields. His theorem on simplectic reduction in collaboration with Alan Weinstein is one of the most cited works in the history of mathematics. It opened a systematic study of the problem of reducing dynamical systems with symmetries. His works on non-holonomous systems and reduction were also seminal, as well as his contributions to control theory. He also worked on very important applied projects in astronautics, such as the the recent TITAN Surf in the Jet Propulsion Lab at Caltech. Some of his books are international references: Foundations of Mechanics (together with Ralph Abraham); Foundations of Elasticity or his Calculus.

Among the awards he received, one that shines specially is the 1990 Norbert Wiener Award in Applied Math, given by the American Mathematical Society and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, for “his notable contributions to the study of differential equations in Mechanics, proving the existence of chaos in some classic equations; and for his work on the momentum map, which has had a great impact in a wide range of areas, from abstract fundamentals to concrete applications.

He was born in 1942 in Ocean Falls (British Columbia, Canada). He graduated in Mathematics at the University of Toronto in 1965 and got his Ph D at Princeton in 1968. He had faculty positions at UC Berkeley and Caltech. His mentoring work of young researchers is legendary. He advised 44 Ph D students from all around the world, including Spaniards.

I was fortunate to be with Marsden at several seminars, most of them in Canada, He was a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Geometric Mechanics, of which I am the Chief Editor. He provided an enormous support to our journal from its very early steps. We were now working on the Scientific Committee of the II Ibero-American Congress of Geometry, Mechanics and Control, which is going to be celebrated in Bariloche (Argentina) in January, and which he already felt he would not be able to attend. He was both respected and loved, and he opened the way to dozens of mathematicians; he leaves an empty space that will be very difficult to fill.

Manuel de Leon (CSIC, Royal Academy of Sciences) is the Chairman of the Applied Mathematical Siences and member of the Executive Committee of the International Mathematical Union.

About the Journal:
EL PAÍS is a news journal printed in Madrid (I actually went to the press once, I have a friend who used to work there). It is distributed throughout all Spanish-Speaking countries and has contributions from journalists and writers from Spain and South America (for instance, the recent literature Nobel prize Vargas-Llosa writes an opinion column in this journal). It is the most reputed newspaper in the Spanish-Speaking world.

Translated by
Juan Carlos del Alamo, Assistant Professor
Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
University of California San Diego

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