Date: Wed, 4 Feb 1998 10:22:51 -0500 (EST)
From: James Stasheff
Subject: Sammy obits (fwd)
Copyright 1998 The New York Times Company
February 3, 1998, Tuesday, Late Edition - Final
NAME: Samuel Eilenberg SECTION: Section B; Page 9; Column 1;
Metropolitan Desk
HEADLINE: Samuel Eilenberg, Dies; Mathematician at Columbia
BYLINE: By ERIC PACE
BODY:
Samuel Eilenberg, an eminent mathematician and collector of Asian art,
died on Friday at the Isabella Geriatric Center in upper Manhattan,
where he had been for three months. He was 84 and had been a longtime
resident of the Upper West Side of Manhattan.
He had been in poor health for the last three years, said Robert L.
Poster, one of the co-executors of his estate. Dr. Eilenberg retired
in 1982 as a University Professor, the highest professorial rank, at
Columbia University, where he had taught since 1947. He was born in
Warsaw and moved in 1939 to the United States, where he became
renowned for his work in the fields of algebraic topology and
homological algebra. He served twice as chairman of Columbia's
mathematics department, and taught at the University of Michigan from
1940 to 1946 and at the University of Indiana in 1946 and 1947.
In 1986, he was a co-winner, with Atle Selberg of the Institute for
Advanced Study at Princeton, of the $100,000 Wolf Foundation Prize in
Mathematics.
Beginning in the mid-1950's, Dr. Eilenberg amassed an art
collection comprising many small sculptures and other artifacts, in
bronze, silver, stone and other materials. The works were made between
the 3d century B.C. and the 17th century in Indonesia, Pakistan,
India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Central Asia. The
collection came to be valued at more than $5 million.
Then in 1987, he gave more than 400 artifacts from the collection
to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which put on a show of holdings
from his collection, "The Lotus Transcendent: Indian and Southeast
Asian Art From the Samuel Eilenberg Collection," in 1991 and 1992. In
return for his generosity, the museum raised most of the $1.5 million
necessary to create the Samuel Eilenberg Visiting Professorship of
Mathematics at Columbia.
Another member of Columbia's mathematics department, Prof. John W.
Morgan, said, "The theme that runs through Sammy's mathematics is
always to find the absolutely essential ingredients in any problem and
work only with those ingredients and nothing else -- in other words,
to get rid of all the superfluous information."
When someone once asked Professor Eilenberg if he could eat Chinese
food with three chopsticks, he answered, "Of course," according to
Professor Morgan. The questioner asked, "How are you going to do it?"
and Professor Eilenberg replied, "I'll take the three chopsticks, I'll
put one of them aside on the table, and I'll use the other two."
Dr. Eilenberg always applied that simplifying approach in his
mathematical work, Professor Morgan said, and that helped him in his
pioneering work in algebraic topology.
In the 1930's, 40's and 50's, he was one of the main researchers in
algebraic topology, the use of algebraic techniques to study problems
involving shapes. Professor Eilenberg also helped develop a related
field, homological algebra.
He and a co-author, Prof. Norman E. Steenrod of Princeton
University, collaborated in studying algebraic topology. They set out
their findings in a 1952 book, "Foundations of Algebraic Topology"
(Books on Demand), which is one of the primary sources in the field.
The two mathematicians developed axioms, or rules, for analyzing
objects through algebraic topology.
"The Eilenberg-Steenrod axioms were crucial," Professor Morgan
said, "in exposing the essential features of the constructions of
algebraic topology."
Professor Eilenberg's mathematical work in algebraic topology began
in his native Warsaw in the mid-1930's, while he was studying at the
University of Warsaw. He received his doctorate there in 1936.
His many writings include the book "Homological Algebra"
(Princeton, 1956) which he wrote with Henri Cartan.
Professor Eilenberg received Guggenheim and Fulbright Fellowships
and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and
other professional groups.
His 1960 marriage to Natasha Chterenzon ended in divorce in 1969.
GRAPHIC: Photo: Samuel Eilenberg (Columbia University)
Copyright 1998 The Chronicle Publishing Co.
The San Francisco Chronicle
FEBRUARY 3, 1998, TUESDAY, FINAL EDITION
SECTION: NEWS; Pg. A15; OBITUARIES
LENGTH: 403 words
HEADLINE: Samuel Eilenberg
LINE: New York
BODY:
Samuel Eilenberg, eminent mathematician and collector of Asian art,
died Friday. He was 84 and had been a longtime resident of the Upper
West Side of Manhattan.
Professor Eilenberg retired in 1982 as a university professor, the
highest professorial rank, from Columbia University, where he had
taught since 1947. He was born in Warsaw and moved in 1939 to the
United States, where he became renowned for his work in the fields of
algebraic topology and homological algebra. He served twice as
chairman of Columbia's mathematics department, and taught at the
University of Michigan from 1940 to 1946 and at the University of
Indiana in 1946 and 1947.
In 1986, he was a co-winner, with Atle Selberg of the Institute for
Advanced Study at Princeton, of the $ 100,000 Wolf Foundation Prize in
Mathematics.
Beginning in the mid-1950s, Professor Eilenberg amassed an art
collection comprising many small sculptures and other artifacts, in
bronze, silver, stone and other materials. The works were made between
the third century B.C. and the 17th century in Indonesia, Pakistan,
India, Nepal, Thailand, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Central Asia. The
collection came to be valued at more than $ 5 million.
In 1987, he gave more than 400 artifacts from the collection to the
Metropolitan Museum of Art, which put on a show titled ''The Lotus
Transcendent: Indian and Southeast Asian Art From the Samuel Eilenberg
Collection,'' in 1991 and 1992. In return for his generosity, the
museum raised most of the $ 1.5 million necessary to create the Samuel
Eilenberg Visiting Professorship of Mathematics at Columbia.
In the 1930s, '40s and '50s, he was one of the main researchers in
algebraic topology, the use of algebraic techniques to study problems
involving shapes. Professor Eilenberg also helped develop a related
field, homological algebra.
He and a co-author, Norman Steenrod of Princeton University,
collaborated in studying algebraic topology. They set out their
findings in a 1952 book, ''Foundations of Algebraic Topology'' (Books
on Demand), which is one of the primary sources in the field.
His many writings include the book ''Homological Algebra''
(Princeton, 1956) which he wrote with Henri Cartan.
Professor Eilenberg received Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships
and was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and
other professional groups.