Vale Laureate Professor Jonathan Borwein

Wednesday, 3 August 2016

The University of Newcastle community is mourning the sudden passing of esteemed mathematician Laureate Professor Jonathan Borwein.

Jon Borwein
Laureate Professor Jonathan Borwein

With a reputation as the world's most renowned π (pi) expert, Professor Borwein spent more than a quarter of a century pioneering the field of experimental mathematics.

UON Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen, said Professor Borwein’s contribution to the field of mathematics was simply extraordinary.

“His research spanned an enormous range of mathematics - from optimisation to number theory and mathematical finance - and he was a leading proponent of the role of experimental computing in mathematical research,” she said.

“As with everything he did, Jon approached each of these topics with great energy and enthusiasm and produced a remarkable body of work.

“Jon was a great mentor to dozens of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows. He was also very generous and supportive of his colleagues. No-one could work with Jon without gaining immense knowledge and insight from the experience.”

Professor Borwein founded and was head of the University of Newcastle's Priority Research Centre for Computer-Assisted Research Mathematics and its Applications (CARMA), and used the computer as a laboratory for more than 25 years, with just some of his feats including producing the world's largest mathematical picture (of π) and proving a 60+ year-old conjecture to be incorrect.

A Rhodes Scholar with a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Oxford, Professor Borwein also held professorships as a pure mathematician, an applied mathematician, an operations researcher and a computer scientist.  His textbooks, papers and blogs are widely read and discussed by the international mathematics community. In recognition of his contributions to research, he was awarded a Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science, Australia’s most elite group of scientists.

Professor Borwein moved to Australia and to Newcastle in 2008, having previously visited on several occasions. His impact was immediate and far-reaching. He built a new research group in Newcastle, established a national seminar on optimisation, and took on major service responsibilities as Editor of the Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society and Chair of the Scientific Advisory Committee of the Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute.

Jon will be sadly missed by his Faculty of Science and IT colleagues, students and the whole university community. Our wishes go to Jon’s wife, Judith, and his three daughters, Rachel, Naomi and Tova, at this sad time.

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