In Memory of Yuri A. Abramovich (1945 - 2003)


Yuri A. Abramovich died on February 5, 2003, at the age of 57, after a valiant four-year battle with cancer. His untimely passing greatly saddened many people. He will be missed not only by his family and closest friends and colleagues but also by many mathematicians and scientists around the world.

Scientifically, Yuri came out of the famous Russian school in Functional Analysis founded in the early 1940s by the distinguished Russian mathematician and economist (and Nobel Prize winner in Economics), Leonid Kantorovich. Yuri completed his Ph.D. degree in 1972 at Leningrad State University (now St. Petersburg State University) under the supervision of Boris Vulikh, a noted mathematician and student of Leonid Kantorovich.

Yuri's early work in Functional Analysis dealt with the geometric and lattice structures of Banach spaces. In his early academic career he collaborated with Gregory Lozanovsky, another important mathematician from the Kantorovich school. Lozanovsky's premature death in 1976, at the age of thirty-nine, left a profound impact on Yuri. Yuri went on to produce world-class research in the field of Banach lattices. By the age of thirty-five Yuri was universally recognized as a leader in the mathematical field of functional analysis.

Yuri was an independent thinker who intellectually challenged his students and those with influence over the lives of others. He questioned the absolute authority of the communist party, and applied to emigrate to either Israel or the United States. His application was rejected by the Soviet government and he became persona-non-grata. Yuri remained a "refusenik" for approximately ten years, enduring much hardship as unemployable throughout that period. To survive the days he tutored and taught some high school students. He polished his English, and continued to work tirelessly on his mathematics research, writing papers, publishing his work and communicating with other research mathematicians around the world.

With the transfer of power in the Soviet Union to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985 and the implementation of his new policies, the door opened for many people to leave. On April 12, 1988, Yuri Abramovich and his family arrived in Indianapolis, and by the Fall of 1990 he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor in the IUPUI Department of Mathematical Sciences. He was an engaging and an animated colleague who was passionately devoted to his profession as a mathematics researcher and as an educator to his students. For a six-year period, until 1999, he served the department as the dedicated Director of Graduate Programs, working to improve the learning environment of our graduate students. Shortly after his arrival at IUPUI, he teamed with IUPUI Professors Roko Aliprantis and Owen Burkinshaw, and together they formed the leading mathematical school in the world on Banach lattices and ordered structures. This group published many scientific papers in top mathematical research journals.

Besides working with his colleagues at IUPUI and in the United States, Yuri collaborated with many scientists from around the world, including China, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Poland, Spain, the Netherlands, and Russia. Yuri's contributions to mathematics are of lasting value and his name has already been associated with many important scientific discoveries.

In July of 1999 Yuri Abramovich was diagnosed with cancer, but he maintained the entire spectrum of his activities. He continued his teaching and his research activities and completed five new papers and numerous mathematical reviews. He continued with the training and the mentoring of his two Ph.D. students and was happy to see them to their graduation. Yuri was also happy to see his two new graduate texts (written jointly with Roko Aliprantis) An Invitation to Operator Theory and Problems in Operator Theory published by the American Mathematical Society. His lifetime scientific work includes a total of five books and monographs and a hundred research papers.

Beyond the realm of mathematics, Yuri left the legacy of his unique engaging personality. His impish sense of humor, optimism, and amazing intelligence were a delight to his numerous friends and colleagues. He was genuine, warm, generous and extremely loyal to the people he loved. He connected strongly with his students, many of whom became his friends. He devoted his life entirely to his family, to his students, and to the advancement of our scientific knowledge. Yuri is survived by his wife Alla and his two daughters, Julia and Jane.

The Department of Mathematical Sciences at IUPUI was fortunate to have him in its ranks and he will be missed by the IUPUI community at large. To commemorate his legacy as a colleague, as a mathematician, and as an educator, the Department has established the Yuri Abramovich Memorial Scholarship Fund.