Abraham P. Hillman
UNM professor emeritus of mathematics, died at his home in Albuquerque Jan. 19 after an extended illness.
Hillman was a renowned research mathematician, author, and active proponent of problem solving.
In 1938, he was among the top five contestants in the William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition, the most prestigious college mathematical competition in the United States and Canada. Also in the top five that year was the famous physicist Richard Feynman. And the next year his team, from Brooklyn College, was the national winner. The Putnam Competition inspired a lifelong passion for problem solving, that culminated in his becoming director of the Putnam Competition in 1973. He remained director until 1977, after which he continued on as associate director until 1983.
Hillman contracted poliomyelitis at age six, and thereafter needed crutches or a wheelchair to get around. But he never let his physical handicap hold back his academic and intellectual achievement. He did graduate work in mathematics at Columbia University, and completed a Ph. D. under the famous mathematician Solomon Lefschetz at Princeton. He came to UNM in 1965.
His students and the students of his students now fill top roles in U.S. mathematics. Hillman coauthored several textbooks and was working on a problems book manuscript until a few weeks before his death.
He is survived by wife Josephine and extended family.