In memoriam László Filep
In memoriam Filep László
While preparing the first issue of Historia Scientiarim, László Filep, Mathematics Historian, was eager to take on writing a study for our journal. We did not think then that this would be his first, and his last, paper that we would publish. László Filep passed away on the 19th November 2004, leaving a huge hiatus behind him.
He was born on the 6th December 1941 in Császló. He completed his secondary education in Mátészalka, and the university in Debrecen. He obtained a certificate as a mathematics-physics teacher in 1964. He defended his doctorate, supervised by Barna Szénássy, in the History of Mathematics and Algebra, and was awarded his PhD after the change of regime.
In the beginning he taught in secondary schools, then in 1973 he began lecturing on the History of Mathematics and Algebra. During this time he was a guest lecturer in the University in Tripoli, Libya, for several years.
He became a professional and enthusiastic mathematical historian. He published not only about numerous Hungarians, but several Transylvanian mathematicians. His recapitulatory study entitled Hungarian Mathematics in Transylvania between the two World Wars was published in the 2001/5 issue of the Magyar Tudomány (Hungarian Science). He collaborated with Gyula Bereznai to write the book titled The history of number writing (A számírás története), (first edition 1982, second edition 1999, Bulgarian translation 1985). A significant work of the History of Mathematics, his thorough The Queen of Sciences (The development of Mathematics), published in 1997, does not only introduce mathematics, and within it the history of Hungarian mathematics, but in the second section of the book it discusses the main areas of mathematics as well.
His role in finding out about the American mathematician G B Halsted's role in the production of the Bolyai-cult was very important. (The world of nature, Bolyai Memorial Issue (2003), Our Age, 2004/6).
He was a member of the renowned International Commission on History of Mathematics and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Magyar Tudományos Akadémia, MTA) Complex History of Science Committee.
He spent his last day in the library of the MTA, doing research for new studies, and in the evening he lectured in the Sapientia College of Theology, Budapest. During this lecture he collapsed and died.
He was full of ideas, asking for more data on Transylvanian mathematicians, planning to write a study for this issue of Historia Scientiarum. All these plans remain.
With the death of László Filep, we not only lost an historian of mathematics, but as Transylvanians, we also lost a true friend.
JOC/EFR November 2017
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