Johann Bernoulli Stichting voor de Wiskunde te Groningen

Ruth Frances Curtain 1941-2018

Ruth Frances Curtain (Melbourne 16 July 1941 - Groningen 19 March 2018) was a professor at the University of Groningen between 1977 and 2006.

[Portrait by Fred Schley]

On March 19, 2018, Ruth Curtain passed away. After finishing her masters in her home town Melbourne, Australia she moved to Brown University (USA) to do her Ph.D. Many pioneers of modern control theory such as La Salle, Wonham, and Hale, were at Brown at that time. In 1969 she obtained her doctor degree. After one and a half year at Purdue University (USA) she moved to Warwick (UK) to join the newly founded Control Theory Center. Since her career opportunities in Warwick were limited, she took a position as "lector" at the mathematics department of the University of Groningen in 1976. Although her plan was only to stay a couple of years, she remained in Groningen. This was mainly due to the many good math students that had interest in systems theory. Together with Jan Willems she was responsible for a large variety of advanced lectures on (emerging) topics in system theory. Of course, these classes led to master and Ph.D. students. With her Ph.D. students she kept in close contact after their graduation.

Her field of expertise was infinite-dimensional systems theory. Whereas finite-dimensional system theory study systems described by ordinary differential equations, its infinite-dimensional counterpart does this for systems described by partial differential equations or delay differential equations.

Her scientific life can be characterized by two items. First of all, she had a keen eye for new results in finite-dimensional systems theory and knew how to extend these to her field. She did this with e.g. the LQG problem and robust control. Secondly, she found very important to share the knowledge which lied scattered in journal papers. Already in 1978, she published together with Tony Pritchard the first text book on the theory of infinite-dimensional systems. Based on the success of that book she asked me in 1989 to make an updated version which would also contain exercises. The new material and exercises were used in two courses for the Dutch Network on Systems and Control, the predecessor of DISC (the Dutch national graduate school on Systems and Control).

Next to being responsible for courses she also served among others as chairman during the transition period of the Network to DISC. After her retirement she remained active. For instance, we have been busy writing a second, again updated version of our book, and with Orest Iftime she was writing the solution manual. Although these books are almost finished, she passed away before they were finalized.

Publicaties van R.F. Curtain:

Publicaties van R.F. Curtain op MathSciNet

Mathematics Genealogy Project voor R.F. Curtain

Publicaties over R.F. Curtain:

Auteur Hans Zwart 2019

[HWB en HSVdS July 2019]