SIAM AG on Orthogonal Polynomials and Special Functions


Extract from OP-SF NET

Topic #7 --------------- OP-SF NET ---------------- November 15, 1996

From: Martin Muldoon
Subject: Death of Felix Arscott

Felix Arscott, Professor Emeritus in the Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Manitoba, died suddenly on July 5, 1996 while on holiday in England.

Professor Arscott was a leading expert in the "higher special functions" and associated differential equations (a paper of his from 1980 is picturesquely titled "The Land beyond Bessel") and is one of the authors of the recent monograph "Heun's Differential Equations", Oxford University Press, 1995 ( OP-SF NET 2-5, Topic #11).

Born in the London suburb of Greenwich in 1922, Professor Arscott spent most of the Second World War in the Royal Air Force, leaving the service as a commissioned officer and having gained an honours degree in Mathematics from the University of London by private study. After a few years of teaching, he completed an M.Sc. in Mathematics in 1951, and went to teach mathematics at Makerere College, then the leading educational institution in eastern Africa. During this period, he wrote a thesis on special functions and received the Ph.D. of the University of London in 1956. There followed positions at Aberdeen, Battersea College of Technology (later the University of Surrey) and the University of Reading. During this period he coauthored with I. M. Khabaza the book "Tables of Lamé polynomials", Pergamon Press (1962), wrote "Periodic Differential Equations: An Introduction to Mathieu, Lamé, and Allied Functions", Pergamon (1964) and translated O. Boruvka's "Linear differential transformations of the second order", English Universities Press (1971). Along the way, he had been a visiting professor at the Universities of Wisconsin and Calgary, had supervised six Ph.D. theses, had written 21 papers and was a founding Fellow of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.

In 1974, Arscott became Head of the fledgling Department of Applied Mathematics at the University of Manitoba, a position he was to hold for eleven years. Apart from administrative leaves at Oxford and Dundee, he was associated with the University of Manitoba for the rest of his life. He accomplished much at Manitoba, building a Department which did all of the Engineers' service teaching and set up Science programmes in Applied Mathematics.

Apart from the work mentioned above, Felix Arscott worked on multiparameter eigenvalue problems, difference equations orthogonal bipolynomials and (in collaboration) on elasticity and numerical construction of special functions, There can be few members of the group whose work has touched so many facets of our subject.

(I am indebted to Professor Robert Thomas for much of the information in this notice.)

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