Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Welcome to Joe's blog:

Dear all,

This blogsite is in memory of Joe Oliger.

Joe passed away on August 28 of this year. He was diagonised with cancer in 2004, and died soon after the cancer spread to the pancreas.

Joe did not want a memorial service, but I hope you will use this blogsite to write down thoughts about Joe.

A small way to celebrate his life and what he meant to us.

Best wishes,

Note: If you are having troubles posting comments,
you may also email your comments to me at
margot.gerritsen@stanford.edu and I will post them for you.


Blogger Tony Chan said...

First time I use a "blog" and it is a sad occasion. The last time I saw Joe was probably 10 years ago when he was still at Stanford. We took a long walk together. He already knew he would be retiring and move to the Sierras.

So many memories about Joe!
I still remember when I first met Joe in 1973-1974 at Serra House, when I was a new graduate student, and he was a visitor from Uppsala. I remember Joe's office next to the seminar room and the kitchen. I remember "baby sitting" Nicholas and Jason when Joe and Debbie took a long trip to Sweden. Of course, who can forget the numerous parties at the Oligers!!! He was particularly proud of his Japanese style smoker.

Joe was a great carpenter/builder. Many of us remember he led the effort and built the trellis of Serra House --- the photos are at Mike Heath's homepage. His boat shared with Jon Clarebout. The little record book he had showing he was the first to have climbed one of the peaks in the Rockies.

My last main professional interaction with Joe was when he was Director of RIACS and I was a frequent visitor.

Joe had a great group of PhD students in my era and most of us are still in the math/cs profession and do see each other frequently. In fact, 3 of us (Nick, Marsha and I) saw each other at the SIAM HQ as recently as last Saturday (12/9/05) --- as members of SIAM's Board of Trustees. Joe had a great influence on each of us and we'll remember him fondly forever.


12:02 AM  
Blogger Margot Gerritsen said...

Dear all,

I was one of Joe's last students. He had already retired partly at that time, but we did share some wonderful times on the boat, skiing and rock climbing.

He taught me in his own way how to be confident that things work out one way or another. I did not quite believe him that time I was stuck half way up a 5.9 rock the first time I ever climbed. But, he just rolled a cigarette, sat down and called up to me "Take your time, I'm in no hurry".

I'm sorry I did not try harder to keep in touch with Joe. He had a great heart, and I will miss him.


8:59 AM  
Blogger James Lambers said...

I was one of Joe's last students, before Gene Golub took over as my adviser upon Joe's retirement.

One thing in particular that I admired about him was his ability to recognize potential new applications for existing ideas, including those from outside of computational mathematics. My work with him originated from a purely analytical paper by Charles Fefferman on the Uncertainty Principle. Joe believed that the ideas in this paper could be useful for computational methods. This readiness to examine old ideas in a new light set an example for me to follow.

I have been thinking that a nice way to honor Joe's memory would be a survey paper that summarizes not only his work, but also what has emerged from it, through the work of his students. I would be interested in hearing any thoughts about this.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Wei-Pai Tang said...

Joe's enthusiastic attitude was infectious. So many of his outstanding students from Stanford were attracted and made distinguished careers later. Joe also had a big heart to help the students in difficulties. I was one of them. Here are the first two paragraphs from the acknowledgement of my thesis that I would like share with you:

The march leading to my Ph.D. has been long and difficult, though on its path I have also found happiness and fulfillment. There is a long list of individuals who have helped me in many ways. I want to thank them for what they have given me.
I am deeply indebted to Professor Joseph Oliger for providing me guidance and support through my years at Stanford the most valuable lesson I learned from him is not to just follow where the path may lead, but to go where there is no path. During the crises of my academic life, his confidence in me and his generous support have made this thesis possible. Now, I am very proud of saying: I am another new member of the large academic Oliger “family”.

7:00 AM  

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