J. Schwartz died

I learned just today that Jacob Schwartz, a mathematician and computer scientist, has died on March 2. He was the designer of SETL. Here is an obituary.

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A real loss

Reading the obituary, I'm reminded that Dr. Julian Gevirtz got his Ph.D. at the Courant Institute, and he is by far and away the best math teacher I've ever had.

1. Dr Gevirtz is grossly overqualified for his job, which makes him awesome.

2. His ego is driven by showing off what he knows, so any question would immediately be met by an answer, which makes him awesome2.

3. At the same time, he didn't show off to the point he frequently talked over my head. He has an uncanny knack for determining where my understanding really is, most of the time.

4. He wouldn't spell the reasons why his answer was right in excruciating detail, which can be hard to follow. He was a master of sketching the proof in broad strokes, letting you fill in the details. Of course, you were free to ask him further questions, if you were having difficulty comprehending the sketch.

5. To this very day, I love talking to Dr. Gevirtz from time to time, as I absorb the ideas coming off this man. I swear I learn something valuable every time I do.

So in some small, indirect, and informal way, Jacob Schwartz is part of my mathematical geneology, in a way that I am most grateful for.