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In Memoriam

Hubert Halkin

Professor Emeritus in Mathematics

UC San Diego

It is with sadness that we confirm the passing of Professor Emeritus Hubert Halkin, a distinguished member of the UC San Diego Department of Mathematics from 1965 to his retirement in 1996. Halkin died May 26, 2019, at the age of 82.

Halkin was born June 5, 1936, in Liege, Belgium, to a family whose father, an academician, risked his position and his life to shelter Jewish families during the German occupation of World War II.  Hubert Halkin studied engineering at the University of Liege, and he applied his studies to work on a hydrology project for the State of Israel. He then went to Stanford University to study mathematics with Menahem Schiffer and received a Ph.D. there in 1963. After graduating from Stanford he worked for Bell Laboratories, joining the UC San Diego faculty in 1965 as an associate professor. He then served as vice chair of the department from 1977 to 1981 and as department chair between 1981 and 1987.

Halkin’s research was primarily in the field of mathematical control theory. This subject deals with the control of continuously operating dynamical systems in engineered processes with the objective of controlling them through feedback in an efficient manner. One of his major contributions was a 1968 paper (with E. C. Hendricks) in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in which conditions are obtained for the existence of optimal control models for linear systems. 

Halkin received a Guggenheim fellowship to become a visiting Professor at the University of Louvain, Belgium, during 1971-1972 and at the University of Montreal in 1972-1973. He served on the editorial board of four mathematical journals. He became an emeritus professor in 1996 and began to split his time between La Jolla and Idyllwild, California. In Idyllwild, he established a gallery and restaurant which became an important cultural center for the community.

Halkin was a lover of adventure and the outdoors. He was an accomplished rock climber and cross county skier. He enjoyed snow camping, mountain biking, hang gliding and sailing. He was also a generous and caring person. He donated equipment for a multimedia lecture room at UC San Diego; the Halkin Seminar Room was so named in recognition of that gift. He helped students and friends whenever he could. At one time he gave his VW camper to a rock climber in support of a lifestyle that he admired.

Halkin is survived by his wife, Kathleen Halkin, of Idyllwild, CA; his son, Christopher Halkin of Ohio; daughter, Sherrill Anne Halkin, of San Diego, and two grandchildren, Nydia Camille Grubbs and Judson Hayden Grubbs.


Steven Boggs
Dean, Division of Physical Sciences

Lei Ni
Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics