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SACKS, Gerald E. Age 86, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at M.I.T. and Harvard, died October 4 at his home in Falmouth, Maine, after a long illness. He was born in Brooklyn, a son of Irwin and Ethel Sacks, and graduated from Brooklyn Technical High School. He interrupted his college studies at Cornell University to serve in the U.S. Army from 1953-56, but returned and received his Ph.D. in 1961.

A logician whose most important contributions were in Recursion Theory, he was the author of four books and many treatises. His work was marked by "marvelous technical force and innovation," according to Theodore A. Slaman, professor of mathematics at UC Berkeley and one of his former students. He will be remembered for the Sacks Density Theorem in Computability Theory and Sacks Forcing in Set Theory.

Prof. Sacks was also a prodigious producer of mathematicians. He supervised more than 30 doctoral dissertations and helped to populate the mathematics departments of eminent universities with his students. In 1994, the Association of Symbolic Logic established the Sacks Prize in his honor. It is awarded annually to the most outstanding doctoral dissertation in mathematical logic.

He was known for his sense of humor. Friends and students loved his passion for jokes and were amazed by his immense knowledge of films.

Survivors include his wife, Margaret D. Philbrick; his four children, Matthew S. Sacks, Natalie R. Sacks, M.D. (John R. MacGregor, M.D.), and Paul M. Sacks (Kristen Kaplan) with his former wife Naomi Lavori, and Ella Raposo-Sacks with his former wife Luisa Raposo; three stepchildren, John Philbrick, Katherine Vorenberg, and Louise Philbrick; five grandchildren, Jacob S. MacGregor, Daniel, Kevin, and Harrison Philbrick, and Emma Vorenberg; and his brother, Michael H. Sacks, M.D. A Memorial Service will be held in the spring of 2020.

Memorial contributions to support the MGH Prostate Cancer Research Fund of Dr. Matthew R. Smith, may be sent to MGH, 125 Nashua Street, Suite 540, Boston, MA 02114.
Published in The Boston Globe on Oct. 9, 2019
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