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Re: Jens-Peer Kuska passed away

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  • Subject: [mg101461] Re: [mg101427] Jens-Peer Kuska passed away
  • From: Andrzej Kozlowski <akoz at>
  • Date: Wed, 8 Jul 2009 07:08:32 -0400 (EDT)
  • References: <> <>

This is indeed a very tragic and sad news. The MathGroup will never be  
the same again.

I would like to add just a few words from myself.

I have known Jens-Peer through the MathGroup since I started to  
participate in in in 1998. At that time I was a newbie and he one of  
the most active and most knowledgeable contributors. There seemed to  
be no area of computer science, physics or other science Jens-Peer did  
not know about. He was a brilliant C programmer, and expert in many  
other computer languages but it was clear (and he often stated it)  
that he loved Mathematica above all others. This made him sometimes  
impatient with people who criticized without understanding it, but  
even when he seemed to be annoyed he always gave practical and useful  

Around the 2001 I started teaching geometry of polyhedra at the  
university (in Japan) where I worked as a professor. I wanted to use a  
3D viewer but found RealTime3D - (and Open GL based hack used by  
Mathematica before version 6 as a stop-gap measure) unsatisfactory.  
However, I remembered that I had seen a MathGroup post by Russel Towle  
in which he praised MathGL 3d - an Open GL and MathLink based program  
as being ideal for the purpose I had in mind.
Unfortunately MathGl 3d at that time did not run on Macs. I wrote to  
Jens-Peer asking him about a Mac version and he replied that he had no  
access to Macs but WRI was going to send him an i-Mac and he would let  
me know when a Mac version becomes available.
So, while waiting for that, I run MathGl3d slowly under emulation on  
my Mac and while my students used much faster Windows version. It  
would take a long time to describe how impressive this program was at  
that time. It's enough to say that many of its capabilities are still  
unmatched by Mathematica in version 7. In particular, what I found  
particularly useful was the superb function MVContourPlot3D, which is  
still much faster and more accurate than ContourPlot3D in Mathematica  
7.  In any many of my students became quite expert at using this  
program and one even detailed wrote a (Japanese language) manual as  
part of her graduation thesis.

I met Jens-Peer personally just once, during the IMS at Imperial  
College London in 2003. He gave a fascinating talk on medical image  
processing and after that I had a chance to exchange a few words with  
him. The memory of his wit and intelligence remains with me to this  
day. I reminded him about this promised Mac version of Math GL 3d, and  
he told me that he was having more problems than he had expected due  
to bugs in Apple's implementation of  Open GL.

Two more years past and assumed that Jens-Peer had forgotten all about  
this. But then in 2005 unexpectedly I got an e-mail from him with a  
link from which I was able to download a working version for Mac OS X.  
I was very pleased and immediately started using it in my lectures (by  
that time at a different university and on a different topic). Soon  
after that an announcement from WRI appeared in the MathGroup to the  
effect that MathGL3d was now a commercial (and not very cheap) package  
sold by Wolfram Research. In effect I got a fairy expensive present,  
which I would never had asked for if I had known about it.

In fact this was very typical of Jens-Peer - he helped people in such  
a unpretentious and undemanding way that one often did not appreciate  
that there was a cost in it for him.

Jens-Peer was, by the way, a research professor at the University of  
Lepipzig, one of the oldest universities in Europe located in the city  
of Johann Sebastian Bach. His manner was, however, so direct and  
unpretentious that probably only a few of the many MathGroup users  
whose questions he answered ever realized it.

Andrzej Kozlowski

On 7 Jul 2009, at 18:05, mtrott at wrote:

> Dear Mathgroup,
> I am sorry to inform you that Jens-Peer Kuska passed away last week.
> He was 45 years old.
> I have known Jens-Peer since the early 80s when we both studied  
> physics
> at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Our departments were on opposite
> sides of the first floor hallway.
> After Germany's reunification and the availability of more computers
> and software, Jens-Peer's favorite program soon become Mathematica.
> And he evolved to be a true expert of it.
> His broad and detailed mathematics and physics knowledge allowed
> Jens to cover new areas in computer graphics with his OpenGL viewer
> and in his work on medical image processing.
> Most of the Mathgroup readers know Jens-Peer from his short, to the  
> point,
> helpful, stimulating contributions to Mathgroup, where he  
> contributed so
> many times for more than 10 years.
> And the German-speaking Mathematica user knew him additionally from  
> his
> many contribution to the German Mathematica user group:
> Jens-Peer was a brilliant Mathematica (and in general) programmer who
> was able to code complicated algorithms efficiently and elegantly. His
> reservoir of ideas what to implement, calculate, investigate, or
> visualize was virtually unlimited.
> For the ones that were fortunate to know him in person and discuss
> Mathematica, mathematics, physics, or image-processing issues with  
> him,
> know the value of his deep, critical, and constructive opinions and
> contributions.
> He loved to discuss so many different topics, ranging from  
> Fullform[]s of
> Mathematica graphics expressions to shape-characteristics of averaged
> Wigner  functions of quantum systems and the use of partial  
> differential
> equations to image processing tasks.
> We all will miss such discussions with him in the future.
> Jens-Peer will be missed by the Mathematica community, his university
> department
> (,
> his former students, his friends, and of course, his family.
> Michael Trott
> Wolfram Research

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