I got home last night from a week and a half of traveling to find a newspaper clipping my mother sent me: the obituary for Bill Thurston in the New York Times. I hadn’t know he was sick.
Thurston was a giant of twentieth century geometry, but more important to me is the sense I always get from his writing – a sense of warmth, the intention to share, an abiding interest in math as a human practice. A complete lack of interest in the privilege of being seen as brilliant. A desire to demystify the process of mathematical discovery.
I spent some time today looking for online tributes. Justin Lanier wrote a beautiful one. My desire to refer you to this was the impulse that prompted this post.
Here’s something else beautiful: Thurston’s profile on MathOverflow, linking to the questions he asked and answered on that site.
And for math and art enthusiasts, here’s some high fashion inspired by Thurston’s work.
Rest in peace Bill Thurston.