Remembering Frank H. Lutz

Tags: academia, personal

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I was deeply saddened to learn about the untimely death of Frank H. Lutz.

I was not closely acquainted with Frank as a person but his work had a big impact on me. In my undergraduate days, I discovered his resource The Manifold Page at a critical time in my studies when I was actively looking for ways to combine my love for algorithms with my love for geometry and topology. At the suggestion of Markus Banagl, I looked up Frank’s website and was immediately hooked: here, then, was someone who provided a glimpse into manifolds and how to ‘operate’ with them algorithmically! I used Frank’s triangulations of 2-manifolds and 3-manifolds to deepen my understanding of simplicial homology, writing a simple program to compute homology groups.

Subsequently, I kept returning to Frank’s resources, both for what one might call ’experimental mathematics,’ but, truth be told, also just for fun. I started looking into some homology statistics, for example. Even later, as my research had expanded more into the realm of computational topology, Frank graciously provided me an opportunity to participate in a Thematic Mini-Conference on Computational Topology and Machine Learning. Being on the job market at this point, I was honoured and excited about presenting my work—and I will be forever grateful for it! For Frank, this was apparently not a big deal, but for me it provided an unprecedented opportunity, and I felt that I had now finally arrived in a nice community.

I had just planned another project that would involve more of Frank’s data and wanted to reach out to him when I learned the sorrowful news of his passing. I am saddened that this opportunity will never come.

I know that Frank’s triangulations are only a small part of his legacy, but I want his friends and family to know that it is still an important part for some people.

May Frank’s memory be a blessing to his loved ones.