Karlin, Samuel 1924-2007

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Karlin, Samuel 1924-2007


See index for CA sketch: Born June 8, 1924, in Yanova, Poland; died after a heart attack, December 18, 2007, in Palo Alto, CA. Mathematician, statistician, educator, editor, and author. To say that Karlin was a professor of mathematics at Stanford University for decades would be accurate but misleading. His intellectual curiosity led him far afield as he applied his knowledge in one discipline after another. Over the years Karlin's research interests included game theory as a tool for analyzing military behavior, probability as it affects behavior from the management arena to the voting booth, statistics related to economics, population, and logistics, as well as "pure mathematics" related to probability and set theory. It was said that he deliberately sharpened his intellectual edge by seeking new avenues of research on a regular basis. One of Karlin's major contributions was his work with colleagues to develop the computer program BLAST (or basic local alignment search tool) which greatly enhanced the ability of scientists to analyze and compare DNA samples from one species to another. In fact, much of his later research activity was related to biology, genetics, and evolution. Karlin was awarded the National Medal of Science in 1989. The scientist shared his knowledge as a visiting lecturer at many prominent institutions in the United States and abroad, and in the books he wrote and edited. Most of his books would not be appropriate for the general reader, but a sample of the twenty or more titles demonstrates the wide range of his intellectual interests. Karlin's books include Population Genetics and Biology (1976), Studies in Econometrics, Time Series, and Multivariate Statistics (1983), Theoretical Studies on Sex Ratio Evolution (1986), Mathematical Evolutionary Theory (1989), and Mathematical Methods and Theory in Games, Programming, and Economics (1992), in addition to his work on stochastic processes, approximation theory, and positivity.



New York Times, February 21, 2008, p. A20.