Gerard Friedlander was the son of Austrian communist intellectuals, who divorced when he was four. From the age of two he was raised by grandparents in Vienna, while his mother lived in Berlin as a communist organizer. Hitler came to power in 1933; Friedlander was sent to England, aged 16, in 1934; two years later, he won a scholarship to Trinity College, Cambridge. By 1940 he was a fully fledged applied mathematician who came to embrace both the European and British traditions of that subject. His work was marked by profound originality, by the importance of its applications and by the mathematical rigour of his treatment. The applications of his work changed over the years. The first papers (written between 1939 and 1941, but published only in 1946 for security reasons) were a contribution to Civil Defence: they presented entirely new and explicit results on the shielding effect of a wall from a distant bomb blast. The late papers were contributions to the general, more abstract theory of partial differential equations, but, characteristically, with concrete examples that illuminated obscure aspects of the general theory. Between these two, the middle years brought a flowering of results about the wave equation (including results for a curved space-time), of importance to both physicists and mathematicians.
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Published by the Royal Society