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Martin Erickson (1963 - 2013)

Martin Erickson

Martin Erickson, mathematician, teacher, writer, and editor of Mathacadabra.com, died on May 12, 2013.

Martin John Erickson was born in 1963 in Detroit, Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics in 1987 from The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, studying with Thomas Frederick Storer. He joined the faculty in the Mathematics Department of Truman State University (then known as Northeast Missouri State University) when he was twenty-four years old, and remained there for the rest of his life.

Marty began his love of math early. When he was in second grade he was so good with numbers that he joined the fourth grade class across the hall for his math lessons. He loved to talk about math, do math, teach math, and write about math.

In addition to his teaching and research, Erickson authored or co-authored eight books, beginning in 1996 with Introduction to Combinatorics. Much of his work featured one of two themes. The first was problem-solving. He participated in math contests in high school and college (narrowly missing qualification for the United States Math Olympiad team), and kept his love of math problems throughout his career. Two of his books, Principles of Mathematical Problem Solving with Joe Flowers and Aha! Solutions, were devoted to problem-solving. He contributed many original problems, and was always happy to work on problems with interested students throughout the world. An example can be found on this site: Complete Residue Systems for Lucas Numbers.

The second common theme of Erickson's work was mathematics as an art. He himself was an artist; his paintings are math constructs. One of his paintings provided the cover art for Introduction to Combinatorics. His view of mathematics as art can be seen in his books Pearls of Discrete Mathematics and Beautiful Mathematics, and formed a recurring theme of this latest, Mathematics for the Liberal Arts, written with Donald Bindner and Joe Hemmeter.

Martin Erickson is survived by his parents, Robert and Lorene Erickson, his brother, Matthew, and his wife, Christine.

Marty was notable for his unfailing courtesy to everyone, regardless of the situation. He was a kind and gentle giant who loved his family, enjoyed his friends, loved Abbott and Costello and classic horror films, especially Frankenstein. He could recite poems and sing lyrics from almost every age and genre, particularly Cole Porter, Elton John, CCR and the Beatles; he loved to play the piano and to laugh and play all kinds of games. He was no ordinary man...he was an artist, a swimmer, a dedicated walker and a fine mathematician. Marty was truly a Renaissance man. He is greatly missed.