Dr. Kadir Aziz, who had been a Professor Emeritus at the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMBC since 1989, passed away on March 25, 2016 in Chevy Chase, Maryland. He was 92 years old.
Kadir was born in Afghanistan in 1923. He grew up and received his early education in Paris where his father was the Afghan ambassador, and later in Washington, DC, where he obtained a bachelor's degree from Wilson Teachers College (now merged with the University of District of Columbia) in 1952, and a Master's degree from George Washington University in 1954.
Thereafter he entered the doctoral program in mathematics at the University of Maryland. His doctoral dissertation in 1958, titled "On Higher Order Boundary Value Problems for Hyperbolic Partial Differential Equations in Two and Three Variables" was written under the guidance of Dr. Joaquin Diaz.
Upon receiving the PhD degree, he obtained a faculty position at Georgetown University, where he quickly rose through the ranks, and in 1963, only five years after his PhD, was appointed a full Professor of Mathematics. In 1966 he assumed the duties of the Department Chairman there.
A year later, in 1967, Kadir moved to the nascent UMBC campus as one of the original senior faculty members of its College of Sciences. At the same time, he was appointed Adjunct Research Professor at the Institute for Physical Science and Technology at UMCP. Kadir was a major force in setting up the foundations of what has now become a thriving Department of Mathematics and Statistics at UMBC.
Kadir's research focused on the numerical analysis of partial differential equations. He was one of pioneers of what became known as the Finite Element Method (FEM). This method rapidly became one of the most powerful and indispensable tools for treating numerical problems of engineering, physics, and other sciences.
It is remarkable that the very first international conference on the mathematical theory of the FEM was held at UMBC in 1972, when UMBC was only six years old. The proceedings of that conference, a book edited by Kadir, and containing a groundbreaking monograph written by him and Ivo Babuska, went on to become a standard reference on the subject and an inspiration for the future development of the field.
During his years at Georgetown and UMBC, Kadir's research was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, Office of Naval Research, Air Force Office of Scientific Research, Department of Energy, and the Naval Surface Weapons Center. Kadir supervised the dissertations of 14 doctoral students at Georgetown, UMCP, and UMBC.
In 1999, Kadir donated funds to establish what is known as the Aziz Lecture Series -- initially organized at UMBC, and later at UMCP. The purpose of the series is to provide a forum for expository lectures by experts in the field on the numerical solutions of differential equations. One or two Aziz Lectures have been delivered each year since the establishment of this continuing series.
Kadir was well-known for his joie de vivre -- he loved good wine, good food and good conversation. He will be missed for his heartiness, generosity, and sense of humor.