You are here

Mathematical Analyst Walter Rudin Dies at 89

June 3, 2010 

Mathematician-author Walter Rudin, who taught at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for more than 30 years, died in May 2010, at age 89. 

Rudin became well known with his textbook Principles of Mathematical Analysis (1953). It was playfully called “Baby Rudin” by students and the mathematical community so as to differentiate it from his second book, Real and Complex Analysis (1986), which is referred to as “Big Rudin.” 

A longtime member of the Mathematical Association of America, Rudin also wrote Functional Analysis (1973), which won the Leroy P. Steele Prize from the American Mathematical Society

“Especially because of his textbooks, he was known universally among undergraduates and graduates studying mathematics,” colleague Alexander Nagel said. 

Rudin was born in Vienna, Austria. His family fled the country after the Anschluss, the 1938 de facto annexation of Austria into Greater Germany by the Nazi regime. 

During World War II, he served in the British Navy before coming to the U.S. in late 1945. He received a doctorate from Duke University in 1949. He was a C.L.E. Moore instructor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before joining the UW-Madison mathematics department in 1959. Retiring in 1991, Rudin wrote about his early life, the turbulent war years, and his career in his autobiography, As I Remember It (1991). 

Rudin is survived by his wife, Mary Ellen, who was also a professor in the math department. She told Wisconsin State Journal that, because he served as a mentor to so many doctoral students, his work is carried on through many “mathematical children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren." 

Check out Rudin's mathematical descendants in The Mathematics Genealogy Project. 

Source: Wisconsin State Journal (May 21, 2010)

Start Date: 
Thursday, June 3, 2010