University of Texas at Austin


Ivo Babuska Celebrates 95th Birthday

By John Holden

Published Oct. 20, 2021

A group shot from Dr. Ivo Babuška's birthday celebrations at the Crowne Plaza in Albuquerque, NM. Credit: Oden Institute

Dr. Ivo Babuška celebrated his 95th birthday in style in downtown Albuquerque this month as friends and colleagues from around the world flew into show their appreciation for one of the “greatest living mathematicians of the last century.” 

Few have contributed more to the field of computational science and engineering (CSE) than Czech-born applied mathematician and Oden Institute professor emeritus, Ivo Babuška.

His actual birthday was in March of this year but COVID-19 restrictions forced the postponement of festivities. Leading computational scientists gathered in New Mexico to participate in a one-day workshop in his honor.


Dr. JS Chen from the University of San Diego, who gave a talk at the workshop entitled: "Manifold Learning Enhanced and Physics Constrained Data-Driven Computing for Nonlinear Materials." Credit: Oden Institute

“Ivo Babuška asked me a couple of years ago why I believed a computer could learn any arbitrary function: non-differentiable, infinite dimensional, stochastic… In honor of his birthday, I’ll give an applied mathematical answer,” said Dr. Chandrajit Bajaj from the Oden Institute who opened up proceedings with his talk entitled, “Can Computers Self-Learn to Model, Verify, Validate and Predict?”  

Several other leading scientists followed and covered various topics to pique the interests of a man who only retired from his position at the Oden Institute three years ago at age 92.  

Born on March 22nd 1926 in Prague, Ivo Babuška emigrated to the U.S. in 1968 where he became a professor at the University of Maryland. Later he moved to the Oden Institute at UT Austin where he remained until 2018.  

Working in the field of mathematics, applied mathematics, numerical methods, finite element methods, and computational mechanics, Babuška has published more than 300 papers, over 70 papers in conference proceedings, several books and has been central to our understanding of the finite element method and partial differential equations.

Several Oden Institute faculty were at the event including Founding Director Dr. J Tinsley Oden and current Director, Dr. Karen Willcox, as well as Leszek Demkowicz, Per-Gunnar Martinsson, Omar Ghattas, Robert Moser, Gregory Rodin, Richard Tsai and Chandrajit Bajaj. In addition to the long list of academics in attendance, colleagues of Dr. Babuška's from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories were also present. 

"It was heart-warming, everybody showed up,” said Dr. Leszek Demkowicz, who who co-organized proceedings together with Dr. Jim Stewart of Sandia National Laboratories. “Ivo was very happy and touched, and we all had a wonderful time.”