In Loving Memory of Samuel Burstein
October 04, 1935
July 24, 2020
Spear-Miller Funeral Home
39 South Benson Road,
Fairfield CT US 06824
A memorial to celebrate Sam's life will be held post-COVID
Tandon School of Engineering Emergency Student Relief Fund in Sam's name
Samuel Z. Burstein
BURSTEIN – Samuel Z., 84, of Fairfield, CT, died on July 24, 2020 of pancreatic cancer. Born on October 4, 1935, to Aaron and Pauline (Weixel) Burstein, he brought great joy to, and is mourned by, his beloved wife of 37 years, Susan (Nelson) Burstein and his adoring family: daughter Leslie Balbos (Michael) of Brooklyn, NY; stepdaughter Katie Roper (Preston) of Los Altos, CA; stepdaughter Betsy Stoeber (Russell Miller) of South Orange, NJ; stepson Peter Schmidt (Eleanor) of Greenville, NC; grandchildren Ellen Roper, Karsten Stoeber, Gregory Roper, Charlie Schmidt, Johannes Stoeber, Riley Schmidt, and Lucy Schmidt; brother Albert Burstein (Myra); sister Rebecca Eilers (Ray Plotnick); and many nieces, nephews, other cherished relatives, and dear friends.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Sam attended high school at Brooklyn Tech. He earned his Bachelors (1957), Masters (1958), and Doctoral (1962) degrees in Mechanical Engineering from The Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, now New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering. From 1962-1988, Sam was Associate Professor of Mathematics at The Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University. Courant, described in A Beautiful Mind, Sylvia Nasar’s biography of mathematician John Nash, as “the national capital of applied mathematical analysis,” was ”already rivaling more established mathematical centers like Princeton and Cambridge” in the early 1960s when Sam started there. In 1958, Nash wrote that “'the open problems in the area of non-linear partial differential equations are very relevant to applied mathematics and science as a whole, perhaps more so than the open problems in any other area of mathematics, and this field seems poised for rapid development. It seems clear, however, that fresh methods must be employed.” Sam’s 1964 paper "Numerical methods in multidimensional shocked flow," published in the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Journal, presented at the AIAA aerospace sciences meeting, and sponsored by the Atomic Energy Commission Computing and Applied Mathematics Center at the Courant Institute, provided exactly the kind of fresh methods Nash had called for.
Sam’s work on the mathematics of shockwaves in supersonic flow led to research for the Atomic Energy Commission at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He continued to publish papers (many were classified), taught mathematics at NYU, lectured internationally, and published the textbook Calculus with Applications and Computing (SpringerVerlag 1976) with co-authors Peter Lax, a mentor for Sam, and Anneli Lax, both colleagues at Courant. The book would be translated into six languages. Over time, Sam became increasingly involved in the burgeoning field of applied computing. In 1988, he moved full-time to Hilliard Farber & Co., an interdealer brokerage firm. There, Sam played an instrumental role in development of computer systems that served as infrastructure for the rapidly growing bond markets. After retirement in 2002, Sam continued to consult on multiple systems-related projects.
Sam immersed himself in an astonishing range of activities and interests. He spent decades involved in the world of high fidelity audio equipment and recordings, reviewing components and classical LPs for publications like Stereophile and Sounds Like... He built museum-quality models of full-rigged, historic sailing ships, translating instructions from Italian and replacing packaged balsa wood with higher quality materials he cut by hand. An avid tennis player himself, Sam followed international tournaments and player rankings for years. He found joy in painting and learned to play the cello in his 70s. Sam remembered his first VW fondly, drove his BMW with gusto, and most recently, was infatuated with his Tesla Model S. Having eaten at fine restaurants, including many on trips around the world with his darling wife and their friends, Sam savored Susie’s home-cooked meals and handmade pies above all else; chocolate cake was up there, too. Planning and maintaining their gardens, reading and attending book club, and spending time with treasured friends and family were additional passions. A memorial to share memories of Sam and to celebrate his life will be planned post-COVID. Please consider a donation to The Tandon School of Engineering Emergency Student Relief Fund in Sam’s name: https://www.nyu.edu/giving/give-now/?id=1000500 and eat a scoop of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream in his memory.