R. J. Duffin

Carnegie Mellon University

October 13, 1909 - November 2, 1996

Scientific Discipline: Applied Physical Sciences
Membership Type:
Emeritus (elected 1972)

R. J. Duffin was a mathematician and physicist who used structures of science and engineering to suggest novel mathematical relations. His research focused primarily on differential equations, mathematical modeling, and electrical network theory. He was the author of approximately 180 technical papers and the co-author of the book "Geometric Programming", which dealt with the utilization of algorithms to optimize nonlinear systems for engineering design problems. Duffin’s generalization of Dirac matrices to particles of spin 1 became known as Duffin-Kemmer algebra. His other major contribution was the Bott-Duffin synthesis, which solved the problem of the possibility of synthesizing a given impendence function with the use of transformers.

Duffin received his BS degree in engineering and his PhD in physics from the University of Illinois in 1932 and 1935, respectively. From 1936 to 1942, he taught mathematics at Purdue University and his alma mater. He left teaching to become a physicist at the Carnegie Institution of Washington from 1942 to 1946. However, Duffin found he preferred teaching math and accepted a position as a professor of mathematics at Carnegie-Mellon University, and he continued teaching there for 42 years until his retirement in 1988. Duffin also served as the director of special research in applied mathematics at Duke University for two years in 1958.  

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