Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Ph.D. mathematician and NFL champion

In some sense, the stunning 2010 Super Bowl XLIV victory of New Orleans Saints led by Drew Brees against the Peyton Manning's Indianapolis Colts (my favorite team) may be analogue to a similar event that happened in 1964. Then the NFL quarterback Frank Ryan led the Cleveland Browns to the 1964 NFL Championship title in a 27-0 victory against Johnny Unitas' Baltimore Colts. To this one might add the impressive 1966 season in which the Cleveland Browns' legend Ryan threw for 2974 yards and scored 29 touchdowns.

What is especially relevant for this particular blog is that Frank Ryan is also the recipient of a Ph.D. in Mathematics awarded by Rice University in 1965, with a most interesting thesis, "A Characterization of the Set of Asymptotic Values of a Function Holomorphic in the Unit Disc", and that among the references cited in the thesis are Luzin's "Leçons sur les ensembles analytiques et leurs applications", Sierpinski's "General Topology" (University of Toronto Press, 1952), and Stoilow's "Les propriétés topologiques des fonctions analytiques d'une variable", Ann. Inst. H. Poincaré, 2 (1932), 233–266. In 1966 Frank Ryan also published two fundamental papers on the set of asymptotic values of a function holomorphic in the unit disc in Duke Mathematical Journal (he also published in Pacific Journal of Mathematics, Mathematische Zeitschrift, Michigan Mathematical Journal, etc).

I will conclude with mentioning a recent mathematical event - the amazing, super-entertaining after-dinner talk "Resolved, that a Football is a Mathematical Object" delivered by Frank Ryan at the 2007 Ohio MAA Meeting held at Wittenberg (a talk which I will never forget).