Person: Isaacs, Rufus
Rufus Isaacs was an American mathematician who specialised in game theory.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Philip Isaacs came from a lowly background but became a successful businessman.
- Rufus was brought up in New York City where he attended the Franklin School.
- After graduating, Isaacs was employed by the Carrier Corporation of Syracuse, New York.
- After two years with the Carrier Corporation, where his talent and problem solving abilities were greatly appreciated, Isaacs enrolled in the Master's mathematics programme at Columbia University in New York.
- Isaacs constructed a theory of functions of a complex variable which springs entirely and basically from the concept of the difference quotient (instead of the derivative) and called these functions monodiffric.
- In his Ph.D. Thesis, Isaacs presented 29 new theorems with proofs and applications ...
- In 1941, even before the award of his Ph.D., Isaacs had taken up a job with Hamilton Standard Propellers, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- This firm was a major manufacturer of aircraft propellers and Isaacs was employed as a Senior Analytical Engineer.
- The marriage is considered by Isaacs as the prime event of his life.
- Isaacs joined Hamilton Standard Propellers around the time the United States entered World War II.
- In 1945, after the war ended, Isaacs was appointed as an assistant to Karl Menger in the Mathematics Department of Notre Dame University, South Bend, Indiana.
- Back once again in the aviation industry, Isaacs was involved in the design of intercontinental guided missiles.
- Let us return to our description of Isaacs' career.
- In addition to these positions, Isaacs was a professor at George Washington University, Washington, DC, from 1961 to 1967.
- After these many jobs in industry, Isaacs became a full-time academic for the final ten years of his working life.
- Isaacs returned to one of his many mathematical loves, namely pure mathematics, when he published the paper The distribution of primes in a special ring of integers in 1979.
- Isaacs received several honours for his innovative work.
- One final honour that we note is the establishment of the Rufus Isaacs prize by the International Society of Dynamic Games.
- Some vignettes in recent years capture images of the man friends will remember with affection: Rufus visiting the sailing ship Cutty Sark to verify the accuracy of his hand crafted model, the radio-transmitting unloseable golf ball he purchased out of curiosity and promptly lost, and his professed desire to write a book entitled 'Engineering for Mathematicians'.
- Isaacs did not have many years of retirement to enjoy since, at the age of 66, he died from cancer in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
Born 11 June 1914, New York City, New York, USA. Died 18 January 1981, Baltimore, USA.
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