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Elected in 1974

“For leadership in the development and application of mathematical methods for the solution of engineering and geophysical problems.”


GEORGE FRANCIS CARRIER, Emeritus Professor of Applied Mathematics at Harvard University, died of esophageal cancer at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, on March 8, 2002.

He was born in Millinocket, Maine, on May 4, 1918. His father was a chemical engineer and manager of the Great Northern paper mill in Millinocket. As a teenager, George was a guide in his beloved Maine woods; he worked summer jobs at the mill without his father’s knowledge. Following in his father’s footsteps, he attended Cornell University, where he received an M.E. in 1939 and a Ph.D. in 1944, working with Professor Norman Goodier. An accomplished clarinet and ocarina player, he organized a swing band at Cornell; he also was houseman at a local pool hall.

When George contracted tuberculosis and had to spend a year in a sanitarium, he studied books on advanced mathematics. He then returned to graduate school where he taught courses in drawing and mechanisms and the first advanced course in applied mathematics for engineers at Cornell. Two students in the latter course, Julian Cole and Ivar Stackgold, said they first heard about asymptotic perturbations and similarity in that course and believed that experience had shaped their careers (they both became distinguished professors of applied mathematics).

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