Professor Edith H. Luchins


We are sorry to announce the death of Prof. Edith Luchins.  She was our visiting professor in D/Math at the U.S. Military Academy during the 1991-1992 academic year while her husband, Abe, worked with the Department of Behavioral Sciences and Leadership.  We greatly valued Edith's contributions to the department in the areas of mathematics education and the theory of learning mathematics, and Abe is fondly remembered as well. We regret Edith's passing, and we extend our condolences to her family.


Professor Edith H. Luchins was one of the foremost mathematicians and math educators in America.  She was one of the first women mathematicians in a technical institute like RPI, where she taught for many years and was a role model and mentor for many other mathematicians.  She was interested in diverse areas of mathematics: number theory, algebra, cryptography, geometry, modeling, math education, and math history.  In the most recent years her research related mathematics and psychology, often working with her husband Abe Luchins  ("The Einstein-Wertheimer Correspondence on Geometric Proofs," The Mathematical Intelligencer).  She worked on mathematical models for information processing; on sex differences in cognitive processes and their implications for teaching and learning mathematics; and on the roles of heuristics and algorithms in mathematical problem solving.  She was also interested in the history of mathematics, and, in particular, the history of women in mathematics.  One of her Ph.D. students was Mary Ann McLoughlin, chair of the Mathematics Department at the College of Saint Rose, who with Edith studied the mathematical life of Olga Taussky Todd.   Through a NSF grant, Professor Luchins produced computer graphics material for improving spatial visualization in mathematics and devised computer projects in Number Theory.  She worked with Chris Arney and Joe Arkin on some applied number theory results for the Army ("A Function Whose Values are Integers, II," Transactions of the Tenth Army Conference on Applied Mathematics and Computing).  She also developed computer and calculator programs for bringing technology into pre-college and college mathematics education.  She was the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Mathematics at the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1991-1992.  In addition to teaching cadets DDS and calculus, she was so taken by the faculty development process at the Academy that she conducted an analysis and wrote an article about the process  ("Preparation for College Mathematics Teaching: The West Point Model from a Visiting Professor's Perspective," Mathematical Association of America Notes Number 35).  Edith Luchins was energetic and tireless in her efforts to develop students and faculty, often spending hours with individuals asking for her help and guidance.  While at West Point, she arranged special tutoring sessions for cadets, often filling the math clinic even weeks before WPRs.



By Chris Arney


Posted 21 November 2002.


Luchins, Dr. Edith       MONSEY, N.Y. -- Dr. Edith H. Luchins, age 80, of Monsey, N.Y., formerly of Fordham Court in Albany, died Monday, November 18, 2002 at the Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern, N.Y. She received her B.A. degree from Brooklyn College in 1942, an M.S. from New York University in 1944 and a Ph.D. from University of Oregon in 1957. Professor Luchins did research that relates
mathematics and psychology. She had worked on mathematical models of order effects in information processing; on gender differences in cognitive processes and their implications for teaching and learning
mathematics; and on the roles of heuristics and algorithms in mathematical problem solving, with and without the use of computers. She was also interested in the history of mathematics, and, in particular, the history of women in mathematics.

Professor Edith H. Luchins was professor of mathematical sciences at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute from 1962 until 2002. She was the first woman to be appointed full professor at Rensselaer. She attained Emeritus status in 1992, but continued to be involved in research in the Mathematical Sciences Department until 2002. She served as the chair of the Faculty Council and was a member of the Patrons of Rensselaer.

Professor Luchins established the Max Hirsch prize in mathematics in honor of her father. She spent countless hours advising pre- and post-doctoral students. She was awarded the Rensselaer Distinguished Teaching Award, the Darrin Counseling Award, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award and the Rensselaer Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award. She was distinguished visiting professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy in West Point in 1991-1992. In July 1994 she was appointed adjunct professor of cognitive sciences at the institute. It is interesting to note that she listed her first employment as government inspector of Antiaircraft Director, Sperry Gyroscope Company, Long Island, from 1942-1943.

Dr. Luchins served as past president of the B'nos Israel Mikveh Association in Albany and was an active member of Congregation Beth Abraham Jacob in Albany as well as their Sisterhood. She had been the first woman selected to serve on the board of directors of the Orthodox Union (UOJCA). She was a strong supporter of the UOJCA's National Conference of Synagogue Youth. She was a founding and sustaining member of Maimonides Day School in Albany and Chabad Lubavitch of the Capital District and a friend of Shomrey Torah (Shteibel) of Albany. For many years Dr. Luchins led a women's Mishna study group in the Capital District.

She is survived by her husband, Dr. Abraham Luchins; her children, Dr. David Luchins of The Bronx, Dr. Daniel Luchins of Chicago, Ill., Rabbi Dr. Yirmiyahu Luchins of Monsey, N.Y., Dr. Anne Greenfield of
North Hollywood, Calif. and Rabbi Joseph Luchins of Scranton, Pa.; their spouses; 22 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren. She also leaves her beloved sisters, Pearl Rosbruch of Brooklyn, N.Y. and Helen Nichols of Florida.

Services were held on Tuesday in Brooklyn, N.Y. with burial in the New Mt. Carmel Cemetery in Cypress Hills, Queens. Memorial contributions in memory of Dr. Luchins may be made to Congregation Beth Abraham Jacob, 380 Whitehall Rd., Albany, NY 12208 or the B'nos Israel Mikveh Association in c/o Congregation Beth Abraham Jacob.


Times Union Friday, November 22, 2002. Posted 25 November 2002.