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HAROLD N. SHAPIRO

Obituary
  • "I met him when he visited Concordia University where his..."
    - Robert Raphael
  • "Although I only knew Harold Shapiro later in life as the..."
    - Audrey Harrison
  • "I was shocked and saddened to learn of Harold's passing; he..."
    - Gary Forman
  • "My entire family was devastated upon hearing of Harold's..."
    - Ron Forman
  • "I remember Harold very fondly from my years at the Courant..."
    - Charlie Epstein

SHAPIRO--Harold N., mathematician and polymath, died on December 12 in Teaneck, NJ. He was 91. Dr. Shapiro was Professor Emeritus at New York University's Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, where he taught for over 50 years. A distinguished number theorist, he was omnivorously interested in mathematics and its applications. In the early 1960s, he briefly left NYU to found Systems Research Group, a consultancy for industry and government. There, he used mathematical models to solve problems in space rocketry, computer science, oil production, ship scheduling, and bond trading, among many other fields. Born on October 2, 1922 in the Bronx, NY, he was the loving son of Isaiah William and Julia Shapiro, and the devoted brother of Raymond E. Shapiro, a toxicologist. He attended City College and then Princeton University, where he received his Ph.D. at the age of 24 under the direction of Emil Artin. Throughout his teaching career, Dr. Shapiro supervised 41 doctoral dissertations and many master's theses. His care for his students extended beyond the classroom and lasted long after the awarding of their degrees. His publications include more than 60 articles and one book, Introduction to the Theory of Numbers (1983, reprint 2008). In 1979, he received the Townsend Harris Medal for outstanding achievement by an alumnus of City College. An engaging lecturer and storyteller, he was a walking library of anecdotes from the history of mathematics. He also painted, wrote poetry, loved music, collected art, and was quietly philanthropic. Having studied Latin, Russian, and modern Greek, he spoke French, German, and Spanish, which he learned at 85 years old. He is survived by his four children, 10 grandchildren, one great-grandchild, and by Ruth Shapiro, his loving wife of 65 years.

Published in The New York Times on Dec. 29, 2013
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