Sunday, June 6, 2010
In memory and appreciation of Prof. Leo Schneider
Just two months ago, we were honored to have Professor Leo Schneider come to Albany for NYSML, the statewide math championship math meet, where our students, as well as students from all over New York State, got to see him in action as he helped to run the tiebreak rounds (above, with George Reuter) and subsequently explained the mathematics behind the solutions to those problems to an audience of hundreds of students.
Professor Schneider has composed many terrific problems to challenge and inspire high school students at ARML and NYSML over the years. In fact, he has written all of the problems used at NYSML for at least a decade, and he has also overseen the grading of the essay/proof-based Power Question during that time. He has also contributed AMC contest problems and volunteered with the International Math Olympiad. Our students have very much enjoyed working on many of his problems during official competitions, as well as learning more from those problems by working on them informally afterwards as they prepared for future competitions.
Yesterday, the American Regions Math League (ARML) national organization honored Professor Schneider by awarding him the 2010 Al Kalfus Award for Distinguished Service. Prof. Schneider was on-site to receive that honor, as well as to serve in his role as Chief Judge of the national high school math contest, including overseeing the grading of the power round on Appolonian circle packing.
Less than 24 hours later, we received the sad news that Professor Schneider passed away suddenly while traveling from ARML.
He leaves a remarkable legacy behind--thousands and thousands of students all over the state and all over the country, inspired and energized by the mathematical excitement he created in the problems he composed for them. And decades of future students will grow mathematically by continuing to work informally on those problems in the future.
Professor Moorthy, Mr. Babbitt, Professor Biswas, Beth Schaffer, and I had the privilege of meeting and dining with Professor Schneider and other NYSML officials the night before NYSML this year. His eyes sparkled as he talked about how he'd found inspiration for this year's Power Question in a visit to a factory that used computer-controlled milling machines. His motto was "There's a Power Question in everything!" and it's clear that his mind was constantly open to the possibility of interesting mathematics in every daily encounter.
Thank you, Professor Schneider. You will be missed, and we will think of you as we continue to work with future cohorts of students and to reflect on the mathematics embodied in the problems you have composed.