October 01, 2004 —
Robert E. Kalaba, an applied mathematician associated with USC for almost half
a century and renowned internationally for his analytical and computational solutions
to problems in physics, engineering, operations analysis and biology, died September
29 following a brief illness. He was 78.
Robert E. Kalaba, 1926-2004
A professor of biomedical engineering, electrical engineering and of economics,
Kalaba was an engineering lecturer at USC from 1956 to 1971. He became a research
associate in biomathematics in 1966 and a visiting professor of electrical engineering
in the biomedical engineering program at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering
in 1969. In 1974 he became a full professor at USC with appointments in biomedical
engineering, electrical engineering and economics.
“Thus, he was truly one of the founding fathers of BME here,” said Michael Khoo,
professor and chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering. “Computational
programs that he helped prepare are in use in coronary care units to aid in the
optimization of drug regimens.”
Before coming to USC, Kalaba was a mathematician at the RAND Corporation in Santa
Monica from 1951 to 1969. He was a founding editor of Applied Mathematics and
Computation and served as an editor on numerous other mathematical journals.
He was also a consultant at Hughes Aircraft Company, Esso Production Research
Corporation, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the Service Bureau Corporation.
Kalaba continued to work from his hospital until a few days before his death
and was the author of more than 600 research papers, 17 book chapters and 12 books.
In addition to his prolific research, he was known as an excellent teacher who
could simplify complex mathematical problems for his students.
Born in Mount Vernon, N.Y., Kalaba earned his B.S. in 1948 and his Ph.D. in 1958
from New York University. He served as an electronics technician in the U.S.
Navy at the end of World War II.
A resident of Pacific Palisades, Calif., he is survived by his wife Wilma; two
daughters, Darlene and Kathy; two sons, Robert and Rick; and four grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held at 2 p.m., Oct. 9 at the Corpus Christi Catholic
Church in Pacific Palisades, followed by a reception at the Riviera Country Club.