Mary Ellen Rudin
Early Life and Education
Mary Ellen (Estill) Rudin was born in Hillsboro, Texas to Joe Jefferson Estill and Irene (Shook) Estill. Her mother Irene was an English teacher before marriage, and her father Joe was a civil engineer. The family moved with her father's work, but spent a great deal of Mary Ellen's childhood around Leakey, Texas. She had one sibling, a younger brother. Both of Rudin's maternal grandmothers had attended Mary Sharp College near their hometown of Winchester, Tennessee. Rudin remarks on this legacy and how much her family valued education in an interview.
She attended the University of Texas, completing her B.A. in 1944 after just three years before moving into the graduate program in mathematics under Robert Lee Moore. Her graduate thesis presented a counterexample to one of "Moore's axioms". She completed her Ph.D. in 1949.
In 1953, she married mathematician Walter Rudin, whom she met while teaching at Duke University. They had four children.
At the beginning of her career, Rudin taught at Duke University and the University of Rochester. She took a position as Lecturer at the University of Wisconsin in 1959, and was appointed Professor of Mathematics in 1971. After her retirement in 1991, she continued to serve as a Professor Emerita. She was the first Grace Chisholm Young Professor of Mathematics and also held the Hilidale Professorship,.
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.
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, 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. She also proved the first Morita conjecture and a restricted version of the second. Her last major result was a proof of Nikiel's conjecture.
"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)
- 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.
- "Mary Ellen Rudin (December 7, 1924 – March 18, 2013)". webpage of Topology and its Applications published by Elsevier. Retrieved 8 April 2013.
- Albers, D.J. and Reid, C. (1988) "An Interview with Mary Ellen Rudin". The College of Mathematics Journal 19(2) pp.114-137
- Mary Ellen Rudin at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
- Cactus Yearbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas. 1944. p. 394.
- Cactus Yearbook. Austin, TX: University of Texas. 1945. p. 141.
- "Mary Ellen Rudin", Profiles of Women in Mathematics. Association of Women in Mathematics . Accessed March 13, 2015.
- List of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society, retrieved 2013-07-07.
- Szeptycki, Paul. "Dowker spaces". Topology Atlas. Retrieved 14 October 2014.
- K. Chiba, T.C. Przymusiński, M.E. Rudin, "Normality of products and Morita's conjectures" Topol. Appl. 22 (1986) 19–32
- M.E. Rudin, "Nikiel's Conjecture" Topol. Appl. 116 (2001) 305–331
- 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;
- Donald J. Albers, Gerald L. Alexanderson, Constance Reid, eds. (1990), "Mary Ellen Rudin", More Mathematical People: Contemporary Conversations, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, pp. 282–302, ISBN 0-15-158175-4
- O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "Mary Ellen Rudin", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
- "Mary Ellen Rudin", Biographies of Women Mathematicians, Agnes Scott College
- Benkart, Georgia; Džamonja, Mirna; Roitman, Judith (June 2015), "Memories of Mary Ellen Rudin" (PDF), Notices of the American Mathematical Society, Providence, RI: American Mathematical Society, 62 (6): 617–629