Celebratio Mathematica

Irving Kaplansky

A tribute to Irving Kaplansky

In this Chapter:

On June 25, 2006, math­em­at­ics lost one of its lead­ing al­geb­ra­ists, Irving Ka­plansky. He passed away at age eighty-nine after a long ill­ness, at the home of his son, Steven. Eight months earli­er he was still do­ing math­em­at­ics (Di­o­phant­ine equa­tions). Steven’s ques­tion, “What are you work­ing on, Dad?” brought only, “It would take too long to ex­plain.” From a gen­er­ous teach­er and el­eg­ant ex­pos­it­or who in­spired gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents and young re­search­ers, this ut­ter­ance of­fers per­haps a hint of the weary bur­dens of his fi­nal ill­ness.

“Kap”, as Ka­plansky be­came uni­ver­sally known among friends and col­leagues, was not only a bril­liant re­search math­em­atician and teach­er, but also an ac­com­plished mu­si­cian, a dis­tin­guished in­sti­tu­tion­al lead­er, and a de­voted hus­band and fath­er. The re­mem­brances and trib­utes that fol­low are from some of the many col­leagues, stu­dents, friends, and fam­ily who Kap in­flu­enced and in­spired. We hope that they ad­equately con­vey the awe­some breadth of Kap’s life and work — as a math­em­atician, teach­er, writer, ad­min­is­trat­or, mu­si­cian, and fath­er — that we cel­eb­rate here.

— H. Bass and T. Y. Lam