Richard V. Kadison, Mathematics

caption: Dick KadisonRichard V. (Dick) Kadison, the Gustave C. Kuemmerle Professor of Mathematics, died after a short illness on August 22. He was 93.

Dr. Kadison was born in New York City, attended the Bronx High School of Science, the City College of New York and the University of Chicago, where he earned his PhD in 1950. During World War II, he was a US Navy lieutenant.

Dr. Kadison served for many years as a senior member of Columbia’s mathematics department before coming to Penn in 1964 as part of the mid-1960s modernization and buildup of Penn’s mathematics department, a project undertaken by then-Provost David Goddard and then-Chairman Oscar Goldman. Provost Goddard gave up his own chair (the Gustave C. Kuemmerle Chair) to help attract Dr. Kadison to Penn. Dr. Kadison held the chair for the rest of his life.

At Penn, Dr. Kadison was instrumental in building a world-famous group in functional analysis and operator theory; in the 1970s, this was a great attraction for people to visit Penn’s mathematics department. The area of operator theory is not only pure mathematics, but it has deep connections to quantum mechanics, quantum field theory, probability theory and other areas of mathematics. Dr. Kadison worked tirelessly at the subject and its applications, and he was known worldwide.

Dr. Kadison was a member of the US National Academy of Sciences and a foreign member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters and the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. He was a 1969 Guggenheim Fellow. In 1999, he was awarded the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement by the American Mathematical Society and in 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. A few months before his passing, he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (Almanac May 1, 2018).

Dr. Kadison is survived by his wife, Karen; and his son, Lars (Marit). There will be a conference held in his memory April 5-7, 2019. More info to come; see