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悼念两位前辈学人:胡海昌先生和A. Wayne Wymore教授 精选

已有 14221 次阅读 2011-3-7 09:37 |个人分类:往事如云|系统分类:人物纪事

      昨天回京后,获知胡海昌先生病逝,终年81岁。虽为先生的过世感到万分惋惜,但心里已有准备,因为近年来关于他的病情的信息不断从过去力学界的老师和朋友传来,几次想去探望他,因种种原因未能如愿。

 

      上世纪八十年代初,我与胡先生有过多次联系,收益匪浅,本来很想立即写点东西表示纪念,无奈开会到深夜,早晨六时起床打开计算机想写点东西,不想却恰好收到了在UA时的同事Bahill教授的邮件,告知亚利桑那大学系统工程系,也是世界上第一个系统工程系的创始人,系统设计Tricotyledon理论的提出者,2003INCOSE Pioneer奖获得者,A Wayne Wymore教授去世,终年84岁。

 

      上世纪八十年代从事力学研究和学习时,我对变分法十分感兴趣,后来对振动问题也有涉及,加上钱胡之争的故事,故对胡先生的工作比较了解。对于胡先生能够十分自然地把物理直觉与数学推导相结合的能力,我是极其钦佩,认为远胜于力学大师Timoshenko,特别是他关于一些振动问题的分析和推导,在物理几何上的直观与数学上的简洁,给我留下了极为深刻的印象。从力学转入控制之前,我曾登门向胡先生请教他对于数学工具与问题求解的看法,很受启发,也下了决心转行。一些回忆,在《明天会更好》曾提及(见http://bbs.sciencenet.cn/home.php?mod=space&uid=2374&do=blog&id=6033

 

         1992年或1993年,卞学璜的学生和同事,也是杂交混合应力有限元的共同创始人,时任香港科技大学机械系主任的董平先生来亚利桑那大学找我,希望加盟科大,只是我脱离力学多年(90年代初发表的力学文章,其实皆为80年代初的工作),无意重返该领域。他提及我去过MIT机械系面试过,但那是关于机器人,我虽可在机械系从事机器人的研究,可当时已决心专注智能控制,机械系不再合适,而且刚在美工作不久,只好婉拒他的盛情,并推荐了当时研究十分出色的两位华人新秀(两位后来皆加盟港科大)。不过,此次会面,让我知道了胡海昌的一般变分原理在国外是如何从“鹫津久一郎变分原理”变为“胡-鹫津变分原理”的过程,以及卞董在其中起的作用,有时间的话一定整理出来。近年来,我一直希望把类似的变分原理推广应用到社会计算的研究之中,也了却自己学习研究变分法多年但没有发表过一篇相关论文的遗憾。

 

       Wymore教授是我在美国工作过的亚利桑那大学系统工程系的创始人,是纯数学的博士,一直致力于建立一个关于系统工程的数学理论,尽管我认为这项工作不是十分成功,但他在系统工程学科发展中的历史地位是十分杰出的。他退休后曾到墨西哥海滨与夫人自己筑房休养,几次说去看看,但直到他回住图森都未成行。几年前因为他女儿过去的朋友在网上大肆发帖诋毁他,我曾与Bahill一起设法安慰。最后的一次见面,是因我俩同时被邀成为系统工程名誉学会OAACharter Members

 

       Wymore最能引起我共鸣的话是:“You may not like the climate of Tucson but after you have been here two years, you won’t be comfortable anywhere else in the world,” and, more specifically, “After two years, new faculty will have lost their professional mobility because they won’t be able to move their families away from Tucson.”

 

     上周五(Feb 18)与Bahill会面时,他曾提起Wymore情况不好,失忆情况加剧。我本约好同Bahill周二一起去看他,并三人照相作为正在撰写的UA系统工程六十周年纪念文章的一部分。后因提前回京取消,没想到却成了天人之别。

 

    两位中外学人前辈的研究生涯和成果,有许多可以总结之处,希望有时间静下来,好好写篇文章,表示对他们的纪念。

 

       2011225日晨草于XX内部研讨会,34日草成AA1465,表示欠账。

 

附记:

关于世界上第一个系统工程系是如何开始,这是Wymore的回忆,文如其人,直截了当,非常生动:

I was alone in my office completely absorbed in what, I don’t now recollect. I was busy all the time: I gave lectures to individuals and groups on how the computer could be used by research faculty in diverse fields; I wrote computer programs; I developed and taught courses in programming, numerical analysis, statistics and operations research; I wrote proposals to upgrade the computer equipment.

 

I must have been engaged in one of these activities when Dr. Thomas L. Martin, then Dean of Engineering, came into my office, sat down and immediately began talking:

“I have just returned from an exciting meeting of the American Society for Engineering Education where I heard a paper on the new discipline of systems engineering. It is no longer sufficient for engineers merely to design boxes such as computers with the expectation that they would become components of larger, more complex systems. That is wasteful because frequently the box component is a bad fit in the system and has to be redesigned or worse, can lead to system failure. We must learn how to design large-scale, complex systems from the top down so that the specification for each component is derivable from the requirements for the overall system. We must also take a much larger view of systems. We must design the man-machine interfaces and even the system-society interfaces. Systems engineers must be trained for the design of large-scale, complex, man-machine-social systems.”

 

This quotation is vastly abridged, I am sure, but it communicates the tone and some of the principal points as I recollect them. I was not paying too much attention, still absorbed in what I had been doing, and besides, when I heard the words “American Society for Engineering Education,” I am sure that my eyes began to glaze over. Then the Dean, undeterred by my lack of attention or perhaps so absorbed in his monologue that he didn’t notice, continued:

 

“The next big development in engineering education will be the establishment of systems engineering as an engineering discipline.  The University of Arizona is going to have a Department of Systems Engineering and I want you to develop and head up the Department.”

 

Upon hearing that last sentence, I came fully to attention wishing I had listened more closely to his previous words. I sometimes characterize my intellectual life from that day to the present as trying to recall and to make sense of what the Dean had been trying to tell me that day in 1958.

 

I was captivated by the grandeur of the vision invoked.  I had just begun to appreciate the possibilities for more complex systems because computers were certain to become available with much faster performance, more memory and cheaper cost. I had glimpsed some of the interesting, even mathematical problems in the structure of computer programs but had yet to explore the possibilities for research in what was to become computer science.  I had already come to realize it wasn’t the computer or the programs or the user, it was the system.

 

From:

Systems Movement:  Autobiographical Retrospectives

 

Contributions to the Mathematical Foundations of

Systems Science and Systems Engineering

 

A. Wayne Wymore

Professor Emeritus of Systems and Industrial Engineering

The University of Arizona

4301 North Camino Kino

Tucson AZ 85718

wayne@sie.arizona.edu, http://www.sie.arizona.edu/faculty/wymore.html

 



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