Mathematician Hale Freeman Trotter dies at 91 – Princeton, NJ Local News
Mathematician Hale Freeman Trotter died Jan. 17 at his home in Princeton. He was 91 years old.
Born May 30, 1931 in Kingston, Ontario, Hale became fascinated with mathematics, earning degrees in his chosen field at Queen’s (BA ’52, MA’53) and Princeton (Ph.D.’56) where he studied with William Feller. . Feller was part of a wave of European intellectuals who had fled the Nazis and settled in the United States. Princeton attracted a number of these refugees, including Albert Einstein, who had an office in the math building. It was in this rich and exciting atmosphere that Hale matured as a mathematician.
Joe Kohn, another Hale graduate student at Princeton and a colleague in the math department for nearly 40 years, recalled the first day of their graduate program at Princeton in 1953. Head of the math department, Solomon Lefschetz, told the group of thirteen Ph.D. in Mathematics students that they should congratulate themselves for the hard work it took to get accepted, but that it was likely that only one of them, maybe two, would would become true mathematicians. Hale not only became a world-class mathematician, but also made vital original contributions to the field.
Hale began his career as a Fine Instructor for Mathematics at Princeton from 1956 to 1958. After teaching at Queen’s University as an assistant professor from 1958 to 1960, he returned to Princeton as a visiting associate professor. Hale was appointed a lecturer at Princeton in 1962, an associate professor in 1963, and a full professor in 1969. He was a well-respected administrator, serving as chairman of the mathematics department from 1979 to 1982, and served as associate director of the center data from Princeton University. from 1962 to 1986. He was a highly regarded teacher, instructing both graduate and undergraduate students in a wide range of mathematical concepts. Hale was always willing to take on a higher teaching load when a void needed to be filled, such as teaching game theory for many years until a replacement could be hired. Additionally, he has supervised graduate students and written several textbooks on higher dimensional computation.
As a mathematician, Hale had a wide range of interests and impacts, beginning with his dissertation and work on probability and including significant contributions to group theory, knot theory, and theory. numbers. One of his outstanding achievements, the product formula Trotter, had a major impact on mathematical physics and functional analysis. Another powerful and useful tool he developed was the Johnson-Trotter algorithm, a technique for generating complete lists of permutations that had considerable significance. He developed an interest in knot theory and was the first to show that there are non-invertible pretzel knots, solving a long-standing topological problem. He then became interested in some of the computational aspects of number theory, developing the Lang-Trotter conjecture through his joint work with Yale mathematician Serge Lang.
Predeceased by his beloved wife Kay, his dear brother Bernard and his parents Reginald George Trotter and Prudence Hale (née Fisher), he will be fondly remembered and sadly missed by his devoted son-in-law Stephen Pallrand (Rachel), his step- daughter Nannette, her grandson Eli and her granddaughter Cora, her sister-in-law Jean and her brother-in-law John (Hélène). Hale was also the beloved uncle of Rex (Eliza) and Tory (Tibor Vaghy), great-uncle of John, Thomas (Stephanie), Andrew (Annemarie), Marie, Philip, Claire and Martin, and great-grand- uncle of James, Damien, Felix and Lily.
Hale’s bright, serene, humorous and joyful spirit will be remembered with great affection by his extended family, with whom he and Kay had many memorable visits during his summer vacation in Canada at their cottage on the Cecebe lake. Hale and Kay had a deep love of the arts and opera which they happily shared with all. The family are very grateful to caregivers Joyce and her husband Joe, Antoinette, as well as neighbor Bob, and to everyone who has allowed Hale to stay at her Princeton home since Kay’s death in 2021.
A memorial will be held at Mather-Hodge Funeral Home in Princeton on Tuesday, May 31 between 3 and 5 p.m., with an informal service at 4 p.m. Interment will take place before the memorial on Sunday, May 29 at Evergreen Cemetery in Salem, New York. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the “Kay & Hale Trotter Gynecologic Oncology Fundat giving.temple.edu/trotterfund.