Obituaries: Victor Twersky

January 22, 1999

Victor Twersky, 75, professor emeritus of mathematics, statistics, and computer science at the University of Illinois at Chicago, died November 17, 1998, in Los Altos Hills, California, after a long illness. Twersky joined the faculty of the department in 1966 as a full professor and served for many years as chair of the Applied Mathematics Program Committee. He retired from UIC in December 1990, after a long and distinguished career.

Twersky was one of the world's leading authorities on the scattering of radiation of all kinds---from light, radar, and sonar to seismic waves in the earth. His work is used to analyze the clutter produced by the scattering of radar waves from chaff, to describe the effect of dust on the propagation of light in the atmosphere, to analyze the scattering of light by red cells in blood and by biological tissue. He wrote more than 100 articles describing his research, some of them with his students and colleagues.

Twersky was frequently invited to discuss his work at national and international meetings. He was a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the Optical Society of America, the Acoustical Society of America, and other societies, and he was a member of SIAM since 1974. He served as editor for many physics and engineering journals, including the following: Journal of the Acoustical Society, Journal of the Optical Society, IRE Transactions on Antennas and Propagation, Journal of Mathematical Physics, and SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics.

Twersky earned a BS (City College of New York) in 1943, an MA (Columbia University) in 1948, and a PhD (New York University) in 1950, all in physics. From 1950 to 1953 he was a research associate at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; from 1953 to 1966 he was a senior scientist in the Electronic Defense Laboratories of Sylvania-GTE in Mountain View, California. He was also a visiting lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Stanford University at times during his career.

Twersky was twice named a Guggenheim fellow---in 1972-73, to work on scattering theory and diagnostic applications, and in 1979-80, to work on biophysical applications of scattering theory. In 1969-70 he was an associate at the University of Illinois Center for Advanced Study, where he worked on spatial correlations for multiple scattering in dense distributions.

Twersky is survived by his wife Shirley, son Mark, and daughter Nina. To honor his memory, the Twersky family has established a student scholarship in the UIC Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. Friends, colleagues, and alumni can send contributions to UIC/LAS External Affairs, M/C228, 601 South Morgan Street, 408 UH, Chicago, IL 60607-7104.

Joseph B. Keller, Department of Mathematics, Stanford University.


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