Sci-Fi Writer, Math Professor and Communist, All in One!

As a M.Sc. student, the most influential professor to me, at the time, was Chandler Davis. He taught a great Operator Theory class. Though I don’t recall much of Operator Theory at all, I remember that his classes were great. He vaguely suggested Wavelets as an interesting new field. Sure enough, I went on to write a Ph.D. thesis on Wavelets and made a living out of Wavelet-Based software for the medical and geophysical industries.

Now, there were many stories about Chandler Davis, but how to tell which ones were true? Well, his wikipedia page gives credibility to some of the stories:

As for his writing career he began publishing in Astounding Science Fiction in 1946. From 1946 through 1962 he produced a spate of noteworthy science fiction stories mostly for Astounding.

Chan Davis came from a radical family and was a socialist. His refusal to cooperate with the House Unamerican Activities Committee led to his dismissal and a six month prison term which he served in 1960. After that he left for Canada where he resides to today.

Now, you may ask, is it ok to be an evil communist in Canada? All I can tell you is that he had his office far away from the Mathematics Departement. Somewhere in a dark basement. His office had some socialist propaganda on the walls.

His home page suggests he proved that variance < = (max – average)(average – min). I didn’t know this result, though it is intuitively correct. Anyone knows what the proof looks like?

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Daniel Lemire

A computer science professor at the University of Quebec (TELUQ).

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