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Ralph P. Boas, Jr.

There are many reasons to applaud the life and work of Ralph P. Boas, Jr. (August 8, 1912 July 25, 1992 ! "e was an e#$eptional mathemati$ian, administrator, author, editor, and tea$her! "is resear$h fo$used on real and $omple# analysis, %ourier series, moment pro&lems, and Tau&erian $ompleteness, uni'ueness and integra&ility theorems! (hat made him so spe$ial was his wonderful sense of humor that he shared with the world through )erses, stories, ane$dotes, and re$olle$tions! *oas was &orn in (alla (alla, (ashington where his father held a position with the +nglish department of (hitman ,ollege! After that the family mo)ed around 'uite a &it and it wasn-t until .alph was a&out eight years old that his mother thought to enroll him in a grade s$hool! Apparently his home s$hooling had &een effe$ti)e as the prin$ipal who e#amined him pla$ed .alph in the si#th grade! *eing younger and smaller than his $lassmates made s$hool a trial for him so he spent a great amount of time &rowsing through his parents- e#tensi)e li&rary! /ore interested in languages than in mathemati$s, *oas graduated from high s$hool &efore his si#teenth &irthday and went on to "ar)ard, intending to ma0or in $hemistry and then enter medi$al s$hool! 1is$o)ering that his $hemistry preparation was inade'uate, he turned to mathemati$s, whi$h he knew well! *oas earned an A!*! degree in 1922, and in 1923 he was awarded a 4h!1! for a thesis written under the dire$tion of 1!5! (idder!

A 6ational .esear$h %ellowship ena&led *oas to go to 4rin$eton to work with 7alomon *o$hner and from there to ,am&ridge, +ngland where he attended the le$tures of "ardy, 8ittlewood and A&ram 7! *esi$o)it$h! 9n his return to the :nited 7tates *oas a$$epted a le$tureship with 1uke :ni)ersity, remaining there from 1929 to19;2! "e followed this with a year tea$hing at the :!7! 6a)y 4re<%light 7$hool in ,hapel "ill, 6orth ,arolina! *oas admitted that he applied for this position to a)oid &eing drafted! "is editorial $areer &egan in 19;5 as the +#e$uti)e +ditor of Mathematical Reviews, while supplementing his in$ome le$turing at the /assa$husetts =nstitute of Te$hnology! =n addition to his mathemati$al talent, *oas- mastery of languages pro)ed )ery useful in his editorial $apa$ity! *esides knowing >reek, 8atin, %ren$h, 7anskrit and >erman, he learned .ussian &y re)iewing .ussian papers for Mathematical Reviews!

Around 19;9, 6orthwestern :ni)ersity in +)anston, =llinois was in the pro$ess of &uilding a resear$h<oriented department! *oas was asked to &e$ome $hair! Although all his pre)ious positions had &een at the le$turer le)el he was hired as a full professor without going through the intermediate steps of &eing promoted through the ranks! "e de$lined the offer of $hairperson when he 0oined the department, &ut finally a$$epted the duties in 1953, holding the post until 1932! "e was responsi&le for hiring a top<not$h fa$ulty at the same time he was writing and pu&lishing some 2?? resear$h papers! "e was $ele&rated as a masterful tea$her and le$turer! 9n$e after gi)ing a talk, a mem&er of the audien$e remarked, @Aou seem to make mathemati$s sound like fun!B *oas- pri$eless response was, @=f it isn-t fun, why do itCB

*oas- lu$idly written &ooks are Entire Functions (195; , still a standard te#t&ook in the field, A Primer of Real Functions (19D? , and Invitation to Complex Analysis (1983 ! "e also pu&lished the authoritati)e monographs, Polynomial Expansions of Analytic Functions (1958 written 0ointly with his 4h!1! student .! ,reighton *u$k! *oas was 5i$e<4resident of the Ameri$an /athemati$al 7o$iety (1959<19D? , and 4resident of the /athemati$al Asso$iation of Ameri$a (1932 193; ! "e ser)ed as editor of the American Mathematical Monthly (193D<1981 , Selecta Mathematica Sovietica (1981, 1982 , and $o<editor with >eorge 8eitmann of the Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications (1985<1991 !

As an e#ample of *oas- playful and mis$hie)ous mathemati$al nature, we return to the a$ademi$ year 1923<1928 when he and %rank 7mithies of +ngland were &oth doing post<do$toral work at 4rin$eton! They de$ided to pu&lish a paper on the @/athemati$al Theory of *ig >ame "unting!B 9)er the years the num&er of tongue<in<$heek mathemati$al te$hni'ues for $at$hing a lion in a desert has grown signifi$antly! The easiest for general readers to understand is the followingE @The lion is &ig game, hen$e $ertainly a game! There e#ists an optimal strategy! %ollow it!B "owe)er, it isn-t the humor of the te$hni'ues that will &e shared here! .ather it is the 0oke that *oas and 7mithies played on the mathemati$al world that is worth telling! They su&mitted their arti$le to the American Mathematical Monthly with a $o)ering letter o)er the signature of +!F! 4ondi$Gery, who e#plained that he would prefer to pu&lish the paper pseudonymously using the name of "! 4Htard and that-s how it appeared when it was pu&lished in 1928! *oas and 7mithies had $hosen the first pseudonym 4ondi$Gery as a 4olish<sounding )ersion of 4ondi$herry, one of the %ren$h en$la)es in =ndia! The se$ond<le)el pseudonym 4Htard, whose full initials are "!(!9!, $ame from 7hakespeare-s amletI @the engineer, hoist with his own petard!B 8ater the two pu&lished short notes under the name of 4ondi$Gery and e)en had him write a num&er of $riti'ues for Mathematical Reviews! To $omplete their little $omedy, *oas and 7mithies announ$ed the engagement and up$oming marriage of *etti *our&aki and "! 4Htard!

*oas died at his home in 7eattle 0ust two weeks &efore his 8?th &irthday! "e was sur)i)ed &y his wife /ary 8ayne *oas, 4rofessor +merita of 4hysi$s at 1e4aul :ni)ersity, whom he married in 19;1! They had a daughter Anne and two sons, .alph and "aroldI the last is a 4rofessor of /athemati$s at Te#as AJ/ :ni)ersity! The following is one of *oas- )erses, @,ontemporary 8o)e 7ong,B found in !ion untin" # $ther Mathematical Pursuits (1995 edited &y >erald 8! Ale#anderson and 1ale "! /ugler! =nstru$tor, ponder this $odi$il, An awkward truth that you $an-t gainsayE (hat you are tea$hing now, with so mu$h good will, =s tomorrow-s math of yesterday!

There are mathemati$ians who &elie)e any form of le)ity is out of pla$e in their field! *oas would pro&a&ly pity them! This is a funny old world and if mathemati$al humor is somewhat su&tler, ironi$ and intelle$tual than that found in other fields, it may &e &e$ause of the way mathemati$ians look at things! Among the tea$hers = remem&er most fondly are those who shared their sense of fun with their students! :nfortunately, too few of my mathemati$s professors fell into this $ategory! = re$all a 4rofessor, who was regarded only as a le$turing ma$hine with no apparent personality! +a$h day of an intense yearlong $omple# analysis $ourse he filled the &oard with sym&ols, theorems, and proofs without on$e inter0e$ting any amusing or informati)e tid&it a&out the su&0e$t! "owe)er, on the last day of the $ourse he announ$ed to the $lass that he had found a way to tea$h the $ourse we had 0ust $ompleted in a si#<week period! (hen he was asked, @*ut what of the studentsCB (ith 0ust the hint of a smile he replied, @9h, there-ll &e no students!B 6ow that-s funny Kto a mathemati$ian at leastL!

Quotation of the Day: @= $annot remem&er who first remarked that a sweater is what a $hild puts on when its parent feels $oolI &ut a proof is what students ha)e to listen to when the tea$her feels shaky a&out a theorem!B .alph 4! *oas, Jr!