CHARLES NATHANIEL FRIEDMAN
Chas Friedman joined the Department of Mathematics at UT Austin as an assistant professor in the fall of 1973. He had recently completed a dissertation in mathematical physics at Princeton under the supervision of Edward Nelson, followed by an appointment as a C.L.E. Moore Instructor at MIT. His appointment at UT was seen as a step in building the presence here in applied mathematics/mathematical physics, and he had colleagues of similar interests in Ralph Showalter, John Dollard, Klaus Bichteler, and Roy Kerr in mathematics, as well as a number of faculty members in physics.
There was a mathematical physics seminar with participation from both departments, in which Chas became an active participant. Presently, he began a collaboration with John Dollard that resulted in the publication of the volume Product Integration with Applications to Differential Equations in the Addison-Wesley Encyclopedia of Applied Mathematics, which was edited by Gian-Carlo Rota. There followed an additional extensive collaboration on product integration and quantum-mechanical scattering theory, with an accompanying stream of research publications. In fall 1979, Chas became a tenured associate professor.
During the remainder of his career, Chas published further results in other branches of analysis. In particular, he published on probability, in which he had a lively interest. Recently, he wrote a book chapter for Handbook of Probability, edited by Tamas Rudas, which is to be published soon. He also spent a considerable amount of time thinking about the notoriously difficult issue of NP-completeness, which fascinated him throughout his career.
He was a popular teacher who cared deeply about his students and won a College of Natural Sciences teaching award in 1999. In addition he was an effective coach for the mathematics department's Putnam exam team and served a stint as graduate adviser in mathematics. Starting around 2000, he became heavily involved in the department's information technology system, taking on the job of web master and collaborating with the department's operating systems specialist, Dr. Maorong Zou, to ensure the integrity and usefulness of the departmental network.
Chas died of an exceptionally aggressive form of cancer on November 4, 2006, after an illness of less than six weeks. The material so far has been more concerned with Chas's persona. The remainder is more concerned with the person.
Chas had a great sense of innocent fun, and he relished word play. In particular he loved utterances that could be interpreted in more than one way. This expressed itself in standard routines. If you said to him, “Will you call me a taxi?’” he would say, “All right, you're a taxi.” If you said, “Did you take a shower?’” he would say, “Why, is one missing?” And he would victimize people by asking them “Is Handel Baroque?’” and when they replied affirmatively saying “Well, why don't you lend him some money?”
Chas was married twice, and the period of his second marriage to the former Mehri Rae Loftin was doubtless the happiest of his life. Chas and Rae established a residence in Wimberley, Texas, combining the best features of rusticity and modernity. Over a period of twenty years, they raised the children from their previous marriages and hosted many happy occasions, particularly for their musical friends in mathematics. In this setting, the wide range of Chas's interests came into play. While the designation "Renaissance man" is often misapplied, Chas actually was one, with interests including mathematical research, English literature, classical music, folk music, carpentry (practitioner), guitar (player), violin (player), trombone (player), oil painting (practitioner), and jewelry making.
Chas will be remembered as a congenial colleague and a steadfast friend, who devoted more than thirty years of his life to research and to the education of students at UT. His devotion to his students was shown in the fact that he insisted on grading tests in the classes he was teaching until he was too weak to continue. He died bravely, telling Rae that what she had to do was harder than what he had to do, and he apologized for "dudding out" on her. His family and his friends miss him greatly.
William Powers Jr., President
The University of Texas at Austin
Sue Alexander Greninger, Secretary
The General Faculty
This memorial resolution was prepared by a special committee consisting of Professors John Dollard (chair), Efraim Armendariz, and Klaus Bichteler.