The Mathematician’s 90th-Birthday Party

I RECENTLY attended a conference in honor of Ivo Babuska, a professor at the University of Texas, with whom I have written several mathematical papers. There were toasts with a crowd-pleasing (if prudently priced) malbec and puns riffing on “singular value decomposition” that elicited much mirth. After all, it was also Ivo’s 90th-birthday party. Ivo […]

The Wisdom of the Aged

After nearly a year of answering questions, John Sorensen posed one of his own: “Do you know what you want to do when you get old?” It was a day of frustration for Mr. Sorensen, whose 92nd birthday was the day after Christmas. He was in the kitchen of his Upper West Side apartment, holding […]

The Hidden Hungry

It’s lunchtime, but Gale Hillyer’s refrigerator is almost empty. There’s a bottle of water. The carefully wrapped leftovers of yesterday’s meal. A handful of condiments. That’s it. Her sole source of income, a Social Security disability check, has yet to arrive. Until then, there is no money for groceries. Hillyer, 60, is among the “hidden […]