In Memoriam: Lawrence Markus 13 October 1922 - 18 January 2020
Professor Robert Mackay and Professor David Rand write:
Lawrence Markus 13 Oct 1922 – 18 Jan 2020
Lawrence Markus, or Larry as we always called him, was a Professor in the Mathematics department at the University of Warwick from 1968-93 and subsequently Honorary Professor. He shared his time between here and the University of Minnesota on a series of visiting professorships from the Nuffield Foundation, the Leverhulme foundation, and the Science & Engineering Research Council. He was a regular visitor well after his retirement too.
He was a key figure in the development of the Mathematics Institute, for example contributing to the running of the Symposia on “Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems” in 1968-9 and on “Applications of Topology and Dynamical Systems” 1973-4. Furthermore, he was founding director of the University of Warwick’s Control Theory Centre 1970-3, based in the Engineering department to ensure its practical connections; it made a name for Warwick as a centre for mathematical control theory. Larry’s interests also extended to stochastic processes and table tennis. Various of us can recall his prowess at the latter.
He was a broad thinker too. In 1973, he gave an open lecture at Warwick entitled “Mathematical Elements in the Existence Proofs of God”, in which his main point was that the foundations of mathematics are as weak as those of deductive theology. After discussions between Euler and Diderot and Russell and Father Copelston he noted that
“We live in an era of disbelief, and I am a man of my age. Not only disbelief in religious principles, but also disbelief in the traditional standards of science and art, disbelief in all organised intellectual systems. Perhaps it is more accurate to call this an anti-rational age.”
This essay, which has great resonance today, was an example of his creative and eclectic mind and the intellectual fun it was to have him join you for lunch in the old East Site refectory.
We are pleased to have had the opportunity to know him over so many years.
Disclaimer: The information is accurate to the best of our knowledge, but we will check up with records once we are allowed back in the building!