In memory of our beloved Marvin Knopp who died on December 24, 2011

Many people who loved Marvin were not able to attend his funeral because of the suddenness of his death. For those of you who would like to view the service for my father please click on this YouTube link.

Please note that this link consists of four sequential videos totaling 71 minutes in length.

Contributions in his memory may be made to Camphill Soltane, 224 Nantmeal Road, Glenmoore, Pennsylvania 193434, or to Meir Panim.

Friday, December 30, 2011

The idea that we can't talk with Marvin any longer is something that I will never get used to. To say that he was a great man is an understatement, to say that he was a fantastic Mathematician is an understatement, and to say that he was kind, compassionate, and understanding is also an understatement. Words don't seem to have much meaning here, but they are all we have at the moment, as we write this blog.

He is, and I use the present tense because he always will be in my mind, a point of light for me in life - knowing that such a human being was put here on earth helps me have hope for humanity.

To do great Mathematics is wonderful - but he was able to combine that with a kind of human compassion that few of us have come to know or appreciate. His beautiful Mathematics will live on through us. I was very fortunate to have known Marvin, both Mathematically and personally, and I hope to transmit some of that fortune to others now. Recently I sent him a postcard, made of cork, because I know how much he liked one-on-one communication rather than mass-media style communication. This point that he made (refusing to read emails as well) was an interesting one, and marks his wisdom to stand against a modern stampede towards an over-use of technology. I think that as time moves on, we will realize more and more his wisdom to moderate techonology by maintaining a human touch and a basic human caring for each other. We can all still learn from his wisdom. I miss his kind smile, I miss his very pointed sense of humor, and I so miss Marvin, the man whom I was so very fortunate to call my friend.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

George Andrews

Marvin Knopp was a grand man and a grand mathematician. He was
generous and thoughtful with a warm and delightful sense of humor. He was the only mathematician I knew who eschewed e-mail. I was never certain of his motives, but I have to say that I admired his stand against one of the great time sinks of modern life.

At his 73rd Birthday Conference in Philadelphia in January, 2006, I remarked that Marvin had now clearly assumed the leadership of the Philadelphia school of modular forms whose magnificent history and achievements date back to Hans Rademacher and his students in the 1930s. Now, sadly, Marvin is gone with his friends and collaborators left to carry on and to honor his legacy.

This is a deeply sad moment. We all mourn Marvin's passing.

George Andrews

Wissam Raji

Marvin Knopp was one of the most influential people in my life.  He affected me strongly in both his life and his death.  I owe this man for his guidance in every direction.  He taught me mathematics and the way to do mathematics. He taught me that simplicity is deep understanding, humbleness is confidence and  respect is the key to success.  His work and his life spoke for itself all the time and he never interrupted.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Bruce Berndt

There are very few heroes in contemporary American life. Our athletes and
politicians, in particular, are consumed by arrogance, greed, and
selfishness; their lives are not to be emulated. Fortunately, in academic
life, and I speak now of our chosen profession of mathematics, there are
several who cherish their research and teaching, work unceasingly at it,
and unselfishly guide their students to not only an appreciation of the
beauty of mathematics but toward a creative, productive career in research
and teaching. Among those who have been blessed with both the abilities
to do creative, meaningful research and to effectively and
enthusiastically teach, Marvin Knopp stands out. Why was Marvin so
successful? Why was Marvin a hero in our society? Marvin loved what he
did, and he loved to impart this love of mathematics to his students. In
contrast to our contemporary political un-heroes, he labored,
communicated, and mentored unselfishly.

Marvin was a major influence in my personal mathematical life. At the
University of Wisconsin, my first class in number theory was Marvin's
course, Modular Forms with Applications to Number Theory, with his
lectures forming the genesis of his outstanding book, Modular Functions in
Analytic Number Theory. I had never previously had any course in number
theory, and it was in this course that I first learned of Ramanujan's
congruences for the partition function p(n) and the Hardy-Ramanujan
asymptotic formula for p(n). Now, almost 50 years later, I cannot imagine
choosing any other field of mathematics. If it were not for Marvin's
course, I know that my career would have proceeded in a far different
direction, devoid of the elegant richness and beauty of Ramanujan's
theorems and the wonderful contributions of my own students. For all of
this, I am very thankful.

Sister Ann Heath

Marvin and I had a marvelous adventure from the first day he met me and told me, “you WILL study complex analysis!” Marvin was a devoted teacher, friend, and mentor. I cannot imagine life without his constant invitation to me to be a part of the mathematics community. He was one of the most creative individuals I have ever encountered who knew his students, enjoyed being with them, and helped each of us in unique and personal ways to fulfill our goals. I will miss him deeply.
Sister Ann


It is hard coming to grips with the fact that someone so full of life, laughter, and kindness as Marvin has left this world.

My first encounter with Marvin is also one of my favorite recollections about Marvin: I was a new grad student at Temple and knocked on his door, because I wanted to study modular forms with him. It was one of the numerous times when Leon Ehrenpreis was sitting behind the second desk in Marvin's office and the two of them must have had a mathematical-or-otherwise discussion (many friends will recognize the scene I'm describing). Marvin invited me into his office and, after some friendly small talk, asked me what I had been working on. I mentioned that I had studied factoring algorithms using elliptic curves, upon which Leon and Marvin asked me excitedly to factor the number 6 (using elliptic curves). So here I was, a complete rookie, attempting to prove to two world-famous mathematicians that 6 equals 2 times 3...

I learned so much from Marvin--mathematics, teaching, mentoring, music, life... Marvin was an incredibly kind human being ("a real mensch", as he liked to call people whom he admired) and a fantastic mathematician. I am deeply grateful to have had him as a teacher, mentor, and friend, and that I get to remember his kindness, humor, and love of life, as much as I will miss seeing his friendly face and hearing the laughter in his voice.

Forever Thankful to Marvin Knopp

I came to know Prof. Marvin Knopp when I took his Introductory Modular Theory course at Temple University in Fall 2000. I found him to be very funny, caring, easy to talk to, knowledgeable, and a great teacher. He made the subject he was teaching interesting and as a result he stimulated my interest for the subject. I think that is why I choose him to be my Ph.D. advisor. He was very generous with his time for me and more importantly; he was always a phone call away for everyone who needed his help, suggestion, and guidance. I will always be thankful for what he has done for me and I feel tremendously privileged to have been a part of his life. The knowledge I gained from him is immeasurable. He was a fantastic mathematician (it goes without saying), and a wonderful, wonderful, wonderful man. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his guidance and mentoring. He meant so much to me. For that I will forever be grateful.

I will miss Marvin very much and I would like to send my heartfelt condolences to his family.


Omer Yayenie

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Alan R. Kay

To whom it may concern:

I knew Marvin Knopp very well through the Yellow Barn School and
Festival, of which his son, Seth Knopp, is Artistic Director. I have
participated as a faculty member of Yellow Barn for ten years and also
currently serve as a Board Member. It is no exaggeration to say that,
of the many things I look forward to at Yellow Barn, seeing and
chatting with Marvin has been one of the most cherished. A true lover
and appreciator of music, it was a pleasure to sit and talk with him,
not only about Yellow Barn's many chamber music offerings, but about
the great jazz masters, an area with which he was very well
acquainted. I was very touched to receive, after one of our summer
chats, a surprise gift of a ten-CD set of Louis Armstrong's music,
which I now value as one of my prize musical possessions.

I will miss Marvin very much and send my sincerest condolences to his
family. For me, Yellow Barn will not be the same without his warm


Alan R. Kay

Monday, December 26, 2011

Honoring the life and work of Marvin Knopp

Please post memories, tributes, pictures, links; anything you would like to share to honor our friend and teacher.  You may post things directly, or send them to