Former Math, Statistics Professor Papp Dies

Posted: July 2, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

Zoltan Papp
Zoltan Papp

Former Mason math and statistics faculty member Zoltan Papp died on June 17 during a hiking accident at the Canyonlands National Park in Utah. He was 73.

According to Klaus Fischer, chair of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Papp was a much admired and gifted mathematician. Papp earned a PhD in mathematics at the University of Debrecen, Hungary, in 1960. He later immigrated to the United States and joined the Department of Mathematical Sciences faculty at Mason in 1969, becoming a full professor of mathematics in 1976. He left the university in 1981 to join IBM.

During his tenure at Mason, Papp developed courses in probability, stochastic processes and abstract algebra while also performing extensive research. Although he was interested in many topics in mathematics, his most important contributions were in the area of abstract algebra, especially in the theory of rings and modules.

Fischer says former students and current members of the department fondly remember Papp as an exemplary teacher of mathematics whose love of the subject was infectious.

Papp worked at IBM until 1999 as a consulting statistician, providing technical advice to management and engineering on a variety of statistical problems. He also developed and taught courses at the IBM Corporate Technical Institute and elsewhere.

After retiring from IBM, Papp rejoined Mason in 2002 as an adjunct associate professor in the Department of Applied and Engineering Statistics. He served in that capacity until 2005.

Papp is survived by two sons, Robert Papp of Arizona and Peter Papp of Chicago, as well as four grandchildren.

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