Mark Pinsky died peacefully on Dec. 8 of complications due to Parkinson’s. He was a prominent mathematician with focused research in Probability Theory and Stochastic Analysis. He received his Ph.D. in mathematics in 1966 from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After working at Stanford University for two years, he came to Northwestern University as an assistant professor in 1968. He reached the rank of full professor in 1976 and retired from that position in 2012.
In his early career, he studied random evolution theory which he summarized in the monograph Lectures on Random Evolution published by World Scientific. He then turned his attention to stochastic differential geometry and extended the applicability of the well-known Feynman-Kac formula, which has become a standard tool for use in non-commutative situations. Later in his career, he worked on classical harmonic analysis, describing what came to be known as the Pinsky Phenomenon. Pinsky authored over 100 scientific papers and became a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.
His teaching went well beyond Northwestern. He wrote and co-wrote numerous textbooks at graduate and undergraduate levels including Introduction to Fourier Analysis and Wavelets, Introduction to Ordinary Differential Equations with Mathematica, Partial Differential Equations and Boundary Value Problems with Applications and An Introduction to Stochastic Modeling. He was a visiting professor at the University of Paris 6, the University of Chicago, and the University of Minnesota, in addition to lecturing at universities across the United States and internationally. Dr. Pinsky organized many scientific conferences and co-founded the highly successful annual Midwest Probability Colloquium, now in its 38th year.
Dr. Pinsky was born on July 15, 1940, the eldest son of Harry and Helen Pinsky. He grew up in Haddonfield, New Jersey and received his undergraduate degree from Antioch College in 1962. He married visual artist Joanna Pinsky (Leff) in 1963, and they had three children whom he leaves behind: Seth (1965), Jonathan (1968), and Lea (1973).
His personal interests extended beyond his passion for math. He loved music of all kinds, particularly chamber music. He played both the recorder and the piano and sang in a local choir. Active and fit, he was an avid cyclist and enjoyed sailing. He was an enthusiastic supporter of Joanna and the arts education organization she co-founded, Art Encounter. As a devoted father, he was fiercely proud of their three children and spouses, Seth, Jonathan (Marcela) and Lea (Dustin Harris). He also leaves behind four grandchildren: Nathan, Jason, and Justin Pinsky, and Jasper Harris; his brother and sister-in-law Lincoln and Peg Pinsky, nieces Rachel and Miriam Pinsky, nephew Joshua Pinsky, and numerous friends and colleagues, who miss his warmth, his compassion, his wonderful sense of humor, and his conversation. A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. on Jan. 14 at the Alice Millar Chapel of Northwestern University. Donations in Mark’s memory can be made to Northwestern U. Math Dept.- Mark and Joanna Pinsky Distinguished Lecture Series or to the Michael J.Fox Foundation (for Parkinson’s research) michaeljfox.org/donate.