Bandung, Java 1932 - 2004


Brief scientific biography

Jacobus Hendricus (Jack) van Lint was born on September 1, 1932 and died on September 28, 2004.
He was born in Bandung (on the island of Java in what was the Dutch East Indies and today is Indonesia) where his father was a teacher of mathematics at a secondary school. During the second world war his family first escaped from Java to Australia and then moved on to the United States. After the war he spent a year in Australia until the family finally returned to the Netherlands in 1946. As a result his school years were rather chaotic. After a couple of years in Djakarta (Jakarta) there were a few years in the United States, then a year in Australia, then 4 years in Arnhem until he finished school in Zwolle in 1950. He entered Utrecht University the same year, where he soon became an assistant to Hans Freudenthal.

He received his Ph.D. from the same university in 1957 and became professor at the Technical University at Eindhoven in 1959. At that time his main interest was in number theory and in fact his thesis was about automorphic forms. When his university wanted to start a program for "mathematical engineers" he was asked to specialize in "combinatorics". In order to get well into the new field he spent half a year at the Bell laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. He became fascinated by the rapidly emerging field of "discrete mathematics", and soon became one of its strongest proponents. His earliest work in this field was in Coding Theory. Early in his new career he wrote some important articles and an influential textbook on this theory. He became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1972, and took on important tasks in several international committees, such as the European Mathematical Council from 1978 to 1990. He was a member of the executive committee of ICMI from 1986 to 1994.

Besides being an eminent scientist, van Lint was also a brilliant lecturer. He was invited to give talks all over the world, altogether he gave more than 300 lectures at more than 100 places. With his love for communicating mathematics it was quite natural that he also took a great interest in the teaching of mathematics, especially at the university level. He wrote several papers both for high school teachers and for colleagues teaching university students or engineering students. As a result of his interest and his innovative ideas about the teaching of discrete mathematics in particular, he was an invited speaker at the ICME conferences in Karlsruhe (1976), Berkeley (1980), Adelaide (1984) and Quebèc (1992).

Publications related to mathematics education

J. VAN LINT 1972-1973, De 13e internationale Wiskunde Olympiade, Euclides: Maandblad voor de Didactiek van de Wiskunde, 48, 47-58
J. VAN LINT, H.J.L. KAMPS 1975, A comparison of a classical calculus test and a similar multiple choice test, Educational Studies in Mathematics, 6, 259-271
J. VAN LINT 1976, Mathematics education at university level, Proceedings of the 3rd International Congress on Mathematics Education (ICME-3) , Karlsruhe, 174-184
J. VAN LINT 1976, Educacion matematica a nivel universitario, excluyendo la preparacion de profesores, Boletin Informativo ICMI-CIAEM, 3, 31-39
J. VAN LINT 1979, Mathematics education at university level, in New Trends in Mathematics Teaching, prepared by the International Commission on Mathematical Instruction (ICMI), Paris, Unesco, The Teaching of Basic Sciences, 4, 66-84
J. VAN LINT 1979, Educacion matematica a nivel universitario, Nuevas Tendencias en la Enseñanza de la Matemática (Preparado por la Comison International de Educación Matemática), Paris, Unesco, 71-91
J. VAN LINT 1979, L'enseignement des mathématiques à l'Université, in Tendances Nouvelles de L'Enseignement mathématique (CIEM) , Paris, Unesco, L'Enseignement des Sciences Mathématiques, 4, 70-89
J. VAN LINT 1984, The influence of computers and informatics on mathematics and its teaching, an ICMI Discussion Document, l'Enseignement Mathématique, 30, 159-172
J. VAN LINT 1985, The education of mathematical engineers, Mathematical Education, Apr.-Jun., 11-14
J. VAN LINT 1988, Discrete Mathematics, some personal thoughts, in Mathematics as a Service Subject, Eds. A.G. Howson, J.-P. Kahane, P. Lauginie, et al., Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, ICMI Study Series, 58-62
J. VAN LINT 1988, Chief guest's address at the annual conference of A.I.M.T. on 30th January, Indian Journal of Mathematics Teaching, 14, 31-32

Other selected publications

J. VAN LINT 1971, Coding Theory, Lecture Notes in Mathematics 201, Springer Verlag
J. VAN LINT 1982, Introduction to Coding Theory, Graduate Texts in Mathematics 86, Springer Verlag, second edition 1992, third (enlarged) edition 1998
J. VAN LINT, P. CAMERON 1975, Graph Theory, Coding Theory and Block Designs, London Math. Soc. Lecture Notes 19, Cambridge University Press
J. VAN LINT, P. CAMERON 1980, Graphs, Codes and Designs, London Math. Soc. Lecture Note Series 43, Cambridge University Press
J. VAN LINT, P. CAMERON 1991, Designs, Graphs, Codes and their Links, London Math. Soc. Student Texts 22, Cambridge University Press

Sten Kaijser
Department of Mathematics
Uppsala University