MORTON B. FRIEDMAN

Obituary
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FRIEDMAN--Morton B. Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Columbia Engineering, and the faculty and staff of Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science mourn the passing of long-time professor and senior vice dean emeritus Morton B. Friedman. Mort, as he was known to everyone at the School and at the University, joined the Engineering faculty in 1956 and spent the next seven decades becoming the heart, soul, and collective memory of the School. Mort, an aerospace engineer and mathematician, received his BS, MS, and EngScD degrees from New York University. After a brief appointment at NYU as a research associate, he moved to Columbia Engineering, where he advanced through the academic ranks in the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics, appointed as full professor in 1966. In 1995, he was appointed vice dean, senior vice dean in 2010, and senior vice dean emeritus in 2012. Mort founded the Division of Mathematical Methods, the precursor to the applied mathematics component of what is now the Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics, where he held a joint appointment. One of his earliest students in this program was Nobel Laureate Robert C. Merton BS'66. Mort was a brilliant mathematician with major contributions in the development of accelerated quadrature methods of linear integral equations, accelerated spectral analysis of compact operators, accelerated projection methods, and uniform asymptotic solutions of differential equations with an almost periodic coefficient. He and his students were the earliest developers of the boundary element method that has later found widespread application in many engineering and applied science disciplines. Mort had performed research for the National Science Foundation in variational methods for fluids; for NASA in the SST sonic boom; and for DARPA in large scaled computations. He had been a consultant to North Star Construction, Hudson Institute and Computer Usage Corp. for numerical analysis; Weidlinger Associates and Christensen, Inc., for applied mechanics; and Inference Corporation for Artificial Intelligence software. As vice dean, he was in the vanguard of engineering education leaders and helped shape the curriculum for many decades, from bringing engineering education into the first-year curriculum with project-based design and discipline-specific professional courses to creating a minors program in more than 20 liberal arts subjects, and from encouraging service learning to providing research opportunities for undergraduates with junior and senior faculty. Mort diligently served as mentor for a long line of faculty in various departments, a service of truly major importance to the school. He was also widely respected across the University for his insight, providing wise counsel on navigating the many complexities of a university. From 1981 to 1995, he served as chair of the Department of Civil Engineering and Engineering Mechanics and, from 1980 to 1991, also held the post of associate dean for instruction and research. In addition, he chaired the Executive Committee of the University Senate for several years. A former Fulbright Professor in applied mathematics and Field Instrumentation Scholar for the American Institute for Physics, he was recognized for his outstanding teaching by the Society of Columbia Graduates, which honored him with its Great Teacher Award in 1978. In 2012, the School recognized Mort for his lifelong devotion as a professor and senior vice dean, dedicating the conference room where he led so many meetings as the Morton B. Friedman Conference Room. We offer our sincere condolences to his family, his devoted and treasured wife of 58 years, Sandy; his loving children, Robert (Linda) and Lori (Jim Goldfinger); and his three beloved grandchildren, Chason, Asher, and Daden Goldfinger. To recognize Mort's lasting impact on Columbia and Columbia Engineering, a public memorial service is planned in the fall at St. Paul's Chapel. Mary Cunningham Boyce Dean of Engineering Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor

Published in The New York Times on June 5, 2014
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