Edinburgh Mathematical Society: Death of A Erdélyi

The following is an extract from the minutes of the fourth ordinary meeting of the Edinburgh Mathematical Society held on Friday 20 January 1978 and from minutes of the third ordinary meeting held on 1 December 1978 which was held in memory of the late Professor Arthur A Erdélyi, F.R.S.


A Erdélyi

Meeting of Friday 20 January 1978

The President, Dr A D Sands, referred to the sudden death on 12th December, 1977 of Professor A Erdélyi. He spoke of Arthur Erdélyi's long association with the Society, dating back to his arrival in Scotland in 1939, and of his service to the Society, both as an enthusiastic and regular supporter of its activities and as its President during the session 1971-72. The President undertook to write to Mrs Erdélyi to express sympathy on behalf of the Society.

Meeting of Friday 1 December 1978

Before introducing the speaker Professor I N Sneddon at the December meeting the President (Professor R A Rankin) spoke of the service which Professor Erdélyi had given to the Society over a period of almost forty years, from his arrival in Edinburgh from Europe in 1939 till his sudden death almost exactly a year ago. In addition to being its President, he had been a regular attender at the Society's meetings and St Andrews Colloquia and had made many contributions to the Society's activities. The President also extended a warm welcome to Mrs Erdélyi, who was present at the meeting.

Professor Sneddon then addressed the Society on "Some aspects of the life and work of Arthur Erdélyi". He spoke first of Erdélyi's early life in Hungary and Czechoslovakia and of his arrival in Edinburgh just before the outbreak of the Second World War. Professor Sneddon then went on to describe the three main periods of Erdélyi's life: his first spell in Edinburgh under Professor Whittaker, his period at Caltech and his work on the Bateman Manuscript Project, and finally his return to Edinburgh as Professor Aitken's successor. Throughout his lecture, Professor Sneddon was most successful in combining biographical details and anecdotes with illustrations of Erdélyi's mathematical work.

After comments by Professors A G Mackie and I H M Etherington, the President thanked the speaker for a lecture which had given such a clear picture of Professor Erdélyi, both as a man and as a mathematician, and which had been delivered in such a sympathetic and entertaining manner.