Michael Machtey



Barbara Machtey, who was married to Michael, says, "He was the most intelligent man I ever knew." Those words say it all. Sandy Schepeler Bergquist had the pleasure of talking with Barbara in April, 2007, and finally giving tribute to one of our best. He was perhaps the most brilliant mathematician in our graduating class and made many important contributions to academics. This is what Barbara had to say - While still in high school, he spent a summer in Birmingham AL helping a doctor who was doing cancer research by putting a computer together for him. He was one of the 40 annual winners of the national Westinghouse Science Talent Search (now the Intel Science Talent Search). In 1962, he won the Silver Knight Award in mathematics. After graduation, he went on to Reed College in Portland OR, where he graduated in three years. He obtained a PhD from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1969, with straight A's. During graduate school, he spent a summer working for Hewlett Packard designing microelectrophoresis instrumentation. After MIT, Michael went on to become an associate professor at Indiana University in Bloomington IN. In 1972, he went to Purdue and taught math and computer science until his death in the fall of 1979. During this time at Purdue, he published many articles and, in 1978, co-authored a textbook entitled An Introduction to the General Theory of Algorithms, which is still being used. There is a Michael Machtey Award that is presented to this day for the most outstanding paper (or papers) written by a student or collaboration of students as judged by the Program Committee. The Machtey Award is presented at the IEEE Symposium on Foundations of Computer Science (FOCS). Michael was also very creative, and needed to express himself by working with his hands. He made furniture from wood, worked with metal, and was a keen photographer. In addition, he enjoyed the arts, particularly ceramics. He also published an article in a professional British ceramics journal on the topic of growing crystals in glazes. He was an early pioneer with this technique.

He met Barbara at Reed College and they married in 1967, when she graduated. She was also a math major. They had a daughter, Sarah, in 1971 and were divorced that same year. Sarah is married and lives in Vermont, working in natural building. Barbara remarried in 1981.