Rui J.P. de Figueiredo
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April 19. 1929 -
July 22, 2013
Rui J.P. de Figueiredo passed away on July 22, 2013, in College Station, Texas, after a valiant fight with Parkinson's disease.
Rui was born in Panjim, Goa, India, in 1929, and lived a long life full of personal happiness and professional achievements. A highly gifted student, musically and academically, he turned down admission to study piano at Trinity College of Music in London to journey half way around the world in 1947 to enter MIT as a freshman undergraduate. After distinguishing himself in electrical engineering, earning both Bachelor's and Master's degrees at MIT, he began studying for his doctorate at Harvard University in 1952.
Rui took time off as a graduate student to move to Lisbon, Portugal, where much of his family then resided. While there, he conducted research with the Portuguese Atomic Energy Commission (Junta de Energía Nuclear) using the experimental nuclear reactor in Sacavém, Portugal. He returned to Harvard to receive his PhD in Applied Mathematics in 1959, and then traveled back to Portugal, heading the Applied Mathematics and Physics Division of the Portuguese Atomic Energy Commission and representing Portugal as a diplomat and technical expert at international conferences, treaty negotiations, and foreign scientific exchanges.
After marrying Isabel Colaço, also of Goa, in 1961, Rui moved to the United States, accepting a position at Purdue University. In 1965 he moved to Houston, Texas, where he was a Professor of Electrical Engineering and Mathematical Sciences at Rice University for 25 years. In 1990, he accepted a position as Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Professor of Mathematics at the University of California, Irvine, and served as a researcher and teacher there until his retirement in 2007. Even in retirement, he continued his research activities.
Rui is best known for his pioneering contributions to the mathematical foundations of linear and nonlinear problems in pattern recognition, signal and image processing, and neural networks, which, in turn, led to the development of novel methodologies for a wide range of applications. His work supported a variety of NASA space exploration projects, assisted the Department of Defense in weapons detection systems, helped companies identify credit card fraud, assisted the Environmental Protection Agency in oil spill detection and source matching, developed algorithms for more efficient transmission of mobile telecommunications signals, enhanced geophysical images for well-logging, and improved the early detection of brain and neural diseases, like Alzheimer's disease. The results of his work can be found in over 400 scientific publications he authored.
While educating thousands of undergraduate and graduate students during his nearly 60-year career, he also won many awards and accolades for his research and teaching through university and professional organizations. He edited numerous journals, was named a Life Fellow by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), served as the President of the IEEE Circuits and Systems Society (CASS), and won the Kapitsa Medal, Chilingar Medal, the Ch. Asachi Medal, and the IEEE Mac Van Valkenburg Award for his seminal contributions to the field of electrical engineering.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Isabel; daughter Alcina Dalton and her husband Jim of Atlanta, Georgia; son Paul and his wife Kathy of College Station, Texas; son John and his wife Bronwyn of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; son Rui Jr. and his wife Natalia of Piedmont, California; and son Miguel and his wife Margaret of San Francisco, California; along with twelve loving grandchildren who fondly remember their grandfather as a generous man with a superb sense of humor who enjoyed expanding their horizons in mathematics, music, and current events. He is also survived by two brothers and numerous brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, nephews, and nieces.
A funeral service will be held at 10:30am, August 1, at St. Anthony's Catholic Church, 401 South Parker Ave, Bryan, TX 77803. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to the IEEE Life Members Fund at www.ieee.org/donate; or to Catholic Charities of Orange County, California at www.ccoc.org.
Please share memories and tributes to Rui at www.hillierfuneralhome.com/obituaries/ .
Hillier Funeral Home
2301 East 29th Street Bryan, TX 77802
Published in Houston Chronicle on July 30, 2013