Biographical Sketch of Hyam Rubinstein
J. (Joachim) Hyam Rubinstein is a Professor in the Department of Mathematics
and Statistics at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. He was
born in 1948 in Melbourne and is the third of six children, all boys. Hyam and his
brothers were strongly influenced by their mother, who encouraged her sons to study
science and mathematics. All of the brothers were mathematically minded and keen
on chess. Hyam received highest recognition for academics and mathematics, in
particular, before becoming a teenager, winning the John Braithwaite Scholarship
in 1959. He entered Melbourne Boys’ High School and at age 17 years, topped the
State list of matriculation exhibition winners: topping the general exhibition, with
exhibitions in calculus, applied mathematics, and physics, and winning the B.H.P.
Matriculation Prize. He completed Melbourne Boys’ High School taking the prize
for pure mathematics, physics, and chemistry in his last year of school.
Hyam then entered Monash University where he majored in pure mathematics
and statistics and earned B.Sc.Honours (First Class) in 1969. He followed an older
brother to University of California-Berkeley to do graduate work in mathemat-
ics. At Berkeley, Hyam was influenced by the work of John Stallings in geometric
topology and became a student of Stallings. He completed his thesis and earned
his Ph.D. in 1974. While at Berkeley, he was supported by an IBM Fellowship and
received three distinctions in the qualifying exams. Hyam was by this time married
to his wife Sue and they decided to return to Australia upon the completion of
his doctorate. He accepted a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Mel-
bourne. At the end of his postdoctoral appointment, he received a contract to stay
at Melbourne University and teach, a position from which he was promoted in the
last year to senior lecturer and he received tenure. In 1982, he was appointed to a
Chair of Mathematics and became a professor at the University of Melbourne.
During the period prior to Hyam becoming Chair, his predecessor, Leon Simon,
influenced both the Department and Hyam. Through Leon’s encouragement, Hyam
and Jon Pitts started a collaboration that led to the introduction into 3-manifold
topology of sweep outs and minimax methods from geometric analysis. Hyam’s
tremendous breadth and understanding of mathematics and his generous sharing
of ideas has led to many fruitful collaborations. The early work with Pitts carried
forth in a collaboration on PL minimal surface theory with William Jaco; later
Hyam introduced a polyhedral version of sweep outs and discovered almost normal
surfaces. The latter provided the methods for Hyam to solve the 3-sphere recogni-
tion problem. Hyam had a long and productive collaboration with Iain Aitchison
on polyhedral differential geometry and another with Marty Scharlemann on the
general structure and methods for comparisons of Heegaard splittings. He returned
to a collaboration with Jaco, both of whom enjoy triangulations and algorithms
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