What's The Occasion?
Stan Osher's 60th Birthday!
It is a pleasure to dedicate this special issue to Professor Stanley J. Osher, in honor
of his contributions to mathematics, and on the occasion of his 60th Birthday. This
volume represents the collective appreciation of Stan's colleagues, students, and the
many scientists and engineers that have benefited from his work.
By simple measures, Stan has had an incredibly productive scientific career, au-
thoring over 150 scientific papers, mentoring more than 30 PhD students, and
co-founding three companies based on his research. This work is even more im-
pressive for its content, which includes three major innovations in computational
mathematics: the ENO methods for hyperbolic conservation laws, PDE-based im-
age processing, and the Level Set Method for moving interface problems.
On this special occasion it seems fitting to look beyond these widely known accom-
plishments, to provide a "Brief History of Stan". Stanley Joel Osher was born to
poor, second-generation Jewish immigrant parents-neither of which finished high
school-in Brooklyn, New York, on April 24, 1942. Stan often remarks that he
shares this birth date and place with singer Barbara Streisand. And, not to be out-
done, 60 years later he lives in the same neighborhood of Los Angeles as Streisand,
as well. Stan grew up in the stereotypical rough Brooklyn neighborhood-had he
attended the local high school, he would have been in the same class as future Mafia
Boss John Gotti! Fortunately, Stan's scores on the citywide aptitude test placed
him at the prestigious Stuyvesant High School, which has produced many notable
scientists. Not the least among them was Peter Lax, who attended a decade earlier.
Growing up in Brooklyn in the 1950's, Stan's main interests were (being Stan) sci-
ence and (being Brooklyn) baseball. Indeed, his childhood measure of success was
to earn as much as a professional baseball player. Thus he is a success, since the
average 1950 player salary, corrected for 50 years of inflation, agrees with his cur-
rent UCLA salary. On the other hand, UCLA does not match the current baseball
player's $2,000,000 average salary.
In 1958 Stan entered the Brooklyn College of the City University of New York,
mainly due to the economic necessity of living at home. The same necessity lead
many other future prominent mathematicians to attend there as well, including
Jack Schwartz, Martin Davis and Paul Cohen. Stan majored in physics and went
on to graduate study in math at Courant Institute in 1962. In doing so, he followed
a path defined by his older sister, Sondra Osher-Jaffe, six years earlier. She was
one of the remarkable and rare women to obtain a PhD in math at that time,
preceding Stan at Brooklyn College and Courant where she, respectively, dated