Mary Ellen Rudin

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Mary Ellen Rudin (December 7, 1924 – March 18, 2013) was an American mathematician.[1]

Born Mary Ellen Estill, she attended the University of Texas, completing her B.A. in 1944 and her Ph.D. in 1949, under Robert Lee Moore.[2] During her time as an undergraduate, she was a member of the Phi Mu Women's Fraternity,[3] and was elected to the Phi Beta Kappa society.[4] In 1953, she married the mathematician Walter Rudin. Following her mentor Moore, her research centered on point-set topology. She was appointed as Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin in 1971, and after retirement served as a Professor Emerita there. She served as vice-president of the American Mathematical Society, 1980–1981. In 1984 she was selected to be a Noether Lecturer. She was an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1995). In 2012 she became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.[5]

Rudin is best known in topology for her constructions of counterexamples to well-known conjectures. Most famously, she was the first to construct a ZFC Dowker space,[6] thus disproving a conjecture of Dowker's that had stood, and helped drive topological research, for more than twenty years. Her example fuelled the search for "small" ZFC Dowker spaces.[6] She also proved the first Morita conjecture and a restricted version of the second.[7] Her last major result was a proof of Nikiel's conjecture.[8] Rudin's Erdős number is 1.[9]

"Reading the articles of Mary Ellen Rudin, studying them until there is no mystery takes hours and hours; but those hours are rewarded, the student obtains power to which few have access. They are not hard to read, they are just hard mathematics, that's all." (Steve Watson[10])

She resided in Madison, Wisconsin, in the Rudin House, a home designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.


  • Rudin, Mary Ellen (1975). Lectures on set theoretic topology (Rep. with corr. ed.). Providence: Published for the Conference Board of the Mathematical Sciences by the American Mathematical Society. ISBN 082181673X. 
  • Rudin, Mary Ellen (1984). Dowker spaces (in the Handbook of set-theoretic topology). Amsterdam u.a.: North-Holland. pp. 761––780. ISBN 0444865802. 


  1. ^ "Mary Ellen Rudin (December 7, 1924 – March 18, 2013)". webpage of Topology and its Applications published by Elsevier. Retrieved 8 April 2013. 
  2. ^ Mary Ellen Rudin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  3. ^ Cactus Yearbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas. 1944. p. 394. 
  4. ^ Cactus Yearbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas. 1945. p. 141. 
  5. ^ List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-07-07.
  6. ^ a b Szeptycki, Paul. "Dowker spaces". Topology Atlas. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  7. ^ K. Chiba, T.C. Przymusiński, M.E. Rudin, "Normality of products and Morita's conjectures" Topol. Appl. 22 (1986) 19–32
  8. ^ M.E. Rudin, "Nikiel's Conjecture" Topol. Appl. 116 (2001) 305–331
  9. ^ "Mary Ellen Rudin". 
  10. ^ W. S. Watson: Mary Ellen Rudin's early work on Suslin spaces, in: The work of Mary Ellen Rudin, (Madison, WI, 1991), 168–182, Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 705, New York Acad. Sci., New York, 1993;

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