Professor Emeritus Laurence Chisholm Young died at home in Madison
on December 24, 2000 at the age of 95. Laurie, as he was
affectionally called, was born in Gottingen, Germany and was the
son of British mathematicians, William Henry Young and Grace
Chisholm Young. His mother was one of the first women to receive a
doctorate in mathematics and one of the first women to receive a
doctorate in any field in Europe. Laurie was raised mostly in
Lausanne, Switzerland and attended Trinity College of Cambridge
University in England. He received an M.A. in 1931 and was a
Fellow of Trinity College from 1931 to 1935. He received a Sc.D.
in 1938. Professor Young was Professor and Head of the Department
of Mathematics at the University of Cape Town in South Africa from
1938 until 1948.
Laurie joined the faculty of UW-Madison in 1948 as Professor of
Mathematics. He had a distinguished career in Madison and was
given the title ``Distinguished Research Professor'' in 1968. He
was Chair of the Department from 1962 to 1964. He retired from the
faculty in 1976, when there was still a mandatory retirement age
of 70. In 1984 Professor Young received an honorary degree from
the Université de Paris-Dauphine. In 1995 a mini-conference was
held in Madison to honor Laurie on his 90th birthday. One of the
memorable highlights of this conference was a potluck-dinner in
the 9th floor lounge of Van Vleck Hall in which everyone was
treated to the ethnically diverse, culinary expertise of the
faculty and their spouses.
Laurie Young was internationally recognized for his contributions
to measure theory, calculus of variations, control theory, and
potential theory. His work on geometric measure theory led to what
are now called Young measures associated with a weakly convergent
sequence of functions. Young measures have found many
applications, including to the theory of materials with nonconvex
constitutive relations. He is the author of the book ``Lectures on
the Calculus of Variations and Optimal Control Theory, published
In 1963 Professor Young began the Wisconsin Mathematical Talent
Search (now called the Wisconsin Mathematics, Engineering, and
Science Talent Search). In this program, which continues today,
five mathematical problem sets are sent each year to Wisconsin
high schools and middle schools. These mathematical problems do
not require much background to solve but they do require ingenuity
and insight. In this way it is hoped to identify and nurture
mathematical talent among the students in the state and to promote
interest in mathematics.
Laurie was a champion chess player and won the Heart of America
competition in 1955. In the 1950's he acted in plays on Wisconsin
Public Television. A lover of languages, he spoke fluent French,
German, and Italian. He enjoyed translating ancient Greek poetry.
In his early years at Wisconsin, Laurie would skate across Lake
Mendota from his home to campus.
Laurie was preceded in death in 1995 by his wife, Joan Elizabeth
Young, and by their son, David, in 1964. He is survived by five
children, Frank Young, Elizabeth Rosalind Young, Sylvia Young
Wiegand (and spouse Roger Wiegand), Angela Young, and Beatrice
Young Nearey (and spouse Terry Nearey).