• tonatiuh
  • 1010 Warren Weaver Hall.
    Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences.
    New York University.
    251 Mercer Street, New York, NY. 10012-1185.

Cathleen Synge was born in Toronto in May 5, 1923 to a family of mathematicians. She received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from the University of Toronto in 1945 and went on to obtain a master's degree from MIT in 1946. Shortly after that she arrived at the Courant Institute, working first as editor of Courant's and Friedrichs's book "Supersonic Flow and Shock Waves" and enrolling later into the Ph.D. program under the supervision of Kurt Friedrichs, obtaining the doctorate in 1951. Both the Courant Institute and the study of wave phenomena would remain a fixture for almost the entirety of her academic career. She made significant contributions and lead the way in fields like supersonic and transonic flow, non-linear shock waves, and linear and non-linear wave scattering, gathering a plethora of awards for her scientific merits along the way. She was truly a woman ahead of her time and with her leadership and excellence prepared the way for the following generations of talented female mathematicians in a field traditionally dominated by men. She passed away on August 8, 2017 leaving behind a deep mark in the mathematical community and trail of ground breaking contributions, she will be kindly remembered and sorely missed.

In November 2017, the Courant Institute organized a celebration in her honor. On that occassion, Leslie Greengard talked about some of Cathleen's contributions on the realm of linear wave propagation and acoustic scattering and the decay rate of scattered waves (for which Cathleen was able to riguorously prove one of the earliest estimates in 3D). The lecture was extended into a short communication for the Notices of the Americal Mathematical Society for the August 2018 issue. In the note, that can be found here, we briefly discuss the issue of how the geometry of the obstacle affects the rate at which the scattered wave decays. The note features snapshots of an acoustic wave impinging upon two sound-soft obstacles: one star-shaped and one not. The simulations were carried out using the time-domain version of deltaBEM, an integral equation-based numerical solver. The full-length videos of the simulations can be seen below side by side.