Person: Catunda, Omar
Omar Catunda was a Brazilian mathematician. He worked hard to improve the level of mathematics education at both school and university level across Brazil.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Omar's first school was the Grupo Escolar Cesário Bastos where he described himself as a 'distracted and careless student'.
- At the Escola Politécnica, Catunda began with the Preliminary Course where he had lectures on geometry and also studied the differential and integral calculus.
- Ramos was keen to improve the teaching of mathematics in Brazil and, finding Catunda enthusiastic for the subject, supported his studies.
- Catunda received the Cesário Motta Award, a gold medal awarded to the best student in the Preliminary Course.
- after a brief period of work in the City Hall of Santos, Catunda applied for the Chair of Infinitesimal Calculus at the Escola Politécnica in 1933, at the age of 27.
- Both gave first place to Catunda, while the other three members chose the candidate José Octávio Monteiro de Camargo, who won the contest and was responsible for the discipline for many years.
- Catunda was fortunate that the University of São Paulo was founded in 1934 as a combination of the newly founded Faculdade de Filosofia, Ciências e Letras and the engineering school, the Escola Politécnica.
- In 1934 Catunda was appointed as Fantappiè's assistant for, although he only had an undergraduate engineering degree, Catunda was able to show that he had gained, through self-study, mathematical skills well above the level of the courses he had taken.
- This appointment meant that Catunda was in a position to marry.
- They had a son, Igor Catunda, born in 1937.
- Fantappiè and Catunda collaborated on starting up the Mathematics Subsection of the Faculty of Philosophy, Sciences and Letters at the University of São Paulo with Fantappiè as its head.
- Catunda began undertaking research for a mathematics doctorate advised by Fantappiè.
- During his stay, Catunda published in the 'Atti' of the Reale Accademia dei Lincei and gave lectures at the Mathematical Seminary of the University of Rome.
- In addition, part of the results obtained by Catunda in Italy would be used in his thesis for the public tender in Mathematical Analysis in 1939, after Fantappiè's departure.
- Catunda published Un teorema sugl'insiemi che si reconnette alla teoria dei funzionali analitici Ⓣ(A set theorem that relates to the theory of analytic functionals) in the Rendiconti dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.
- On 25 October 1939 Fantappiè commented on Catunda's thesis suggesting that Catunda should be appointed as his successor.
- Severi invited Mr Omar Catunda, who was in Rome at that time, to make an exposition of this theory at the Mathematical Seminar of that University, for an audience composed of the most eminent Italian mathematicians, an exposition that in my opinion should be published in the "Rendiconti" of that Seminary to serve as a guide for the specialists.
- Catunda was appointed, on an interim basis, as professor responsible for the chair of Mathematical and Higher Analysis, replacing Fantappiè.
- She took Catunda's first year analysis course which largely followed the syllabus Fantappiè had set up.
- Gomide was appointed as Catunda's assistant in 1945.
- In that year André Weil was appointed to Fantappiè's chair which Catunda had filled on a temporary basis.
- Catunda, with a scholarship from the Rockefeller Foundation, spent 1946-47 at Princeton University and Jean Dieudonné was appointed professor of mathematics at São Paulo for 1946-47 but it was Gomide who took over teaching Catunda's Mathematical Analysis course.
- At Princeton University, Catunda attended courses given by Emil Artin, Harald Cramér, Heinz Hopf, Hermann Weyl and John von Neumann.
- Catunda, although a militant, did not join the Brazilian Communist Party.
- For Catunda, the government had decided to "democratise secondary education, without realising (or pretending not to realise) that there were no people to carry out this democratisation with the necessary seriousness." This would be the reason why students arrived at universities without proper preparation.
- He then became a colleague working with Catunda.
- Catunda was extremely dedicated, attentive and patient, an exemplary teacher.
- When, in 1952, a group of students decided to make a magazine, Catunda's support was invaluable.
- We have already said a little about the analysis course that Catunda took over from Fantappiè in 1939.
- In January 1963 Catunda left São Paulo and moved to the Federal University of Bahia in Salvador, Brazil.
- Catunda held the positions of full professor and coordinator of the Master's degree at the Institute of Mathematics at Federal University of Bahia, until his mandatory retirement in 1976.
- It may be surprising to see that Catunda was not made director of the Institute of Mathematics after the reform.
- Catunda did his best to improve the situation.
Born 23 September 1906, Santos, Brazil. Died 12 August 1986, Salvador, Brazil.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive