Obituaries: Kurt Georg

April 30, 2003


Kurt Georg, 1942-2003.
Kurt Georg died suddenly on February 14 at his home in Fort Collins, Colorado, on the eve of his 61st birthday. He was a numerical analyst and a leading exponent of numerical continuation methods. He was a cherished friend, colleague, teacher, husband, and father.

Born in Düsseldorf, Germany, he received a PhD in applied mathematics from the University of Bonn, under the direction of Heinz Unger, in 1968. He was continuously employed at the University of Bonn from 1965 until 1986, being a member of the German "center of excellence" Sonderforschungsbereich 72 (SFB 72) from its inception in 1972 and completing his Habilitation there. In 1986, he became a professor of mathematics at Colorado State University, where he remained until his death.

Kurt held visiting professorships at a number of universities, including the Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro, and the universities of Florence, Trieste, Cosenza, Prague, Bari, Trier, Novi Sad, Bremen, Corvallis, Rome, and Tsukuba. Among the listeners at lectures he gave while visiting Florence was the young mathematician Anna Maria Cundari, whom he married in 1975, in her home town, Paola, in southern Italy. Neither Anna Maria nor Kurt was fluent in the language of the other and so their courtship was quite naturally conducted in the romantic French language. Subsequently, they and their children would speak Italian, German, and English at home.

Kurt's early work was in functional analysis, nonlinear operators, and fixed-point theorems. One of his oft-cited papers concerned an inverse iteration method for nonlinear maps. In 1977, one of us (G.A.) met Kurt in Bonn at SFB 72, where we began a friendship and collaboration that lasted to the present day. One of our early joint publications was a survey article on numerical continuation methods that appeared in SIAM Review in 1980. This led to the monograph Numerical Continuation Methods, published by Springer-Verlag in 1990, and several additional lengthy surveys on the subject. SIAM has scheduled the monograph for re-release in the Classics in Applied Mathematics series (to appear this summer).

In the 1990s Kurt worked extensively on exploiting symmetry in various topics of numerical analysis. One of these topics concerned boundary integral methods. In the late 90s he developed efficient cellular exclusion algorithms for computing all real roots or global minima of general classes of maps in an n-dimensional cell. A recent interest was matrix-free methods for the numerical treatment of continuation and various bifurcation problems.

Kurt was a frequent speaker and participant in international conferences. He was a co-organizer of three joint AMS-SIAM Summer Conferences in Applied Mathematics and co-edited several conference proceedings.

Kurt Georg had a love and a gift for mathematical discussion. An elegant, clear, and polished mathematical style characterized both his writing and his blackboard presentations. Kurt was a dedicated and esteemed teacher at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. Before the advent of such technology-based educational devices as Web-CT, he had developed and used similar programs for automatic homework submission. He mentored and co-mentored more than a dozen graduate students, and served recently as director of the mathematics graduate program at Colorado State University.

Kurt maintained very close ties to relatives and colleagues in Italy. He and his family made many visits there, and he was scheduled to spend a sabbatical at the University of Cosenza this fall. He was a talented and avid singer of classical music. He was a cantor in his Catholic church, and a tenor in his church choir and the Fort Collins Larimer Chorale. In recent years he took particular pleasure in singing together with his sons.

In addition to his wife, Anna Maria, Kurt is survived by their three sons, Klaus, Manfred, and Francesco, and his sister, Beate Speckmann. He also leaves behind many colleagues and friends who will miss him for his generous, modest, and caring nature, and his sense of humor.

Kurt's family has created the Kurt Georg Memorial Fund, a scholarship fund for Colorado State University students. Donations to the fund can be addressed to: Kurt Georg Memorial Fund, Colorado State University, PO Box 1870, Fort Collins, CO 80522-1870.

Gene Allgower, Colorado State University, and Heinz-Otto Peitgen, University of Bremen and Florida Atlantic University.


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