Max Goldstein (1920-1992)

Max Goldstein was born on January 1, 1920; he graduated from Brooklyn College in 1940. He spent the war years in Montreal participating in the Canadian Atomic Energy Project. After the war, he joined the Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, where he remained until 1957. He liked to say that he stayed on at Los Alamos as long as he did because to leave he would have had to return all classified documents checked out to him; since he couldn.t locate them, he had to wait until they were all declassified. At Los Alamos, he was present at the creation of computing and computer science by von Neumann and his enthusiastic associates. Max's skills at the new science of computing were in great demand, he was particularly proud of a joint publication with E. Ferni and M. Planck, the latter being not the physicist Max Planck but Miriam Planck, who was Max Goldstein's talented assistant. No formal doctorates in computer science were awarded in those pioneering days, but Max was often described as having a common-law Ph.D.

Starting at New York University in 1957, Max took charge of computing at the Department of Energy Computing Center at the Courant Institute. When the Department of Computer Science was created in 1969, partly through Max's drive, he became one of its charter members. In 1980, he was made director of the newly created Academic Computing Facility. By skillfully and forcefully managing that Facility, Max brought computing to New York University, and put NYU on the map in the world of computing.

Max was able and willing to shoulder large responsibilities. In addition, he was blessed with a warm heart and a very light touch. He often defused a tense situation with a soft word and a joke. His humorous observations were legendary, such as the one about computer graphics: a picture may be worth a thousand words, but unfortunately it costs a hundred thousand words..

Max was beloved by all who knew him at New York University, those that worked for him, his colleagues, and even by hard-headed administrators. A prize in his name for excellence in computing by an undergraduate has been established.

(Peter D. Lax is Professor of Mathematics (FAS) and Director of the Courant Mathematics and Computing Laboratory. Professor Lax read this eulogy at the November 4, 1992 meeting of the NYU Faculty of Arts and Science.)

Publication: Some experiments in algebraic manipulation by computer