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Roger C. Lyndon
LSA Minutes


Roger C. Lyndon, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, was born in Calais, Maine on December 18, 1917, died in Ann Arbor on June 8, 1988.

Professor Lyndon received his bachelor's degree in 1939 and his Ph.D. in 1946, both from Harvard University. He joined The University of Michigan faculty in 1953 and became Professor in 1959. During his career, he held visiting professorships in the United States and abroad, including Queen Mary College, London, and Universitee Montpellier, France. As Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, he was active in research and served as mentor to graduate students. Professor Lyndon gained worldwide recognition for his seminal contributions to logic and group theory. In November 1941, months after taking a course from W.V. Quine at Harvard, Lyndon found and corrected a flaw in Quine's foundations of mathematical logic. His contributions to group cohomology were initiated in his thesis where, among other things, he anticipated spectral sequences, which are of fundamental importance to group cohomology. His published work includes three books and more than 70 research papers, several of which are regarded as classics. These include Cohomology of one-relator groups (Annals of Math, 1950). Dependence and independence in free groups (Crelle Journal, 1962), on Dehn's algorithm (Math. Annals, 1966), on Whitehead's theorem (JLMS, 1974). For years to come, his work on combinatorial group theory will continue to influence the direction of the subject, especially for small cancellation theory. Lyndon's famous ability to cut through to the essence of a complicated mathematical situation was particularly evident in the last two papers cited.

Members of the large and varied circle of Lyndon's friends and acquaintances remark on Lyndon's intellectual exchanges and love of challenges as well as his good humor, wit and warm humanity. He left his colleagues in Ann Arbor and around the world with vivid memories.

Lyndon's survivors include his wife, Margaret of Ann Arbor, a daughter, Jean Lathrop of Plainfield, Vermont, two stepsons, Thomas F. Haddock of Ann Arbor and Richard M. Haddock of Redwood City, California, and six grandchildren.

Robert L. Griess
Donald G. Higman