David Buchsbaum, 1929 – 2021

The following is a note we recently received from David Eisenbud:

I’m writing to announce news that deeply saddens me: David Buchsbaum died at his home on January 8, 2021, of heart failure. David was born on November 6, 1929, and earned his PhD at Columbia University in 1954 under Samuel Eilenberg for the definition and exploration of Abelian categories. He and Maurice Auslander had a famous collaboration laying some of the foundations of homological commutative algebra; among their notable results were the formula relating depth and projective dimension, and the factoriality of regular local rings. His later interests were at the intersection of representation theory and commutative algebra. David spent most of his career at Brandeis University, and was very much engaged in building its mathematics department. He was elected to American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995.

David had and communicated a deep love of mathematics as an integral part of life and of culture. He loved to travel, most of all to Rome. He was a mentor to students and postdocs from all over the world, but especially in Italy. Many Italians arranged to spend time at Brandeis to be near him. In honor of his contribution to Italian mathematics, David was internationally celebrated in three locations throughout Italy during a six-week conference in 1998.

David and I first met in 1968 at the first conference I attended as a graduate student: my advisor, Saunders MacLane, told me I should pay special attention to David’s lectures. David became my postdoctoral mentor, longtime collaborator in a particularly productive and happy period, and a very dear friend.

David shared deep intellectual interests with Betty, his wife for more than 70 years, a poet and professor of English, who survives him. David and Betty were very close to their three daughters, Helen, Susan and Marion, and their warm family life has always been a model for me. Susan’s son Gabriel Frieden has followed his grandfather into mathematics, and is currently a postdoctoral student in Montreal.

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