June 3, 2022

Death of Jean Coursol

Jean Coursol passed away this Wednesday, June 1, 2022.

He was a key pillar in the creation of the department's probability and statistics team. His death takes us back to the revolutionary era when applied mathematics pushed for a place in Orsay, a time whose memories are engraved in the walls of old maths building 425. Jean Coursol and Claude Jouron led the push with the support of some big names and strong-willed individuals, so success was never in doubt! Jean then gathered up a crowd of students and drove them to action, communicating his passion for applied mathematics as he did so, especially when it came to biology. His extraordinary charisma also played a part in the successful creation of a biometrics group at INRA Jouy, along with a postgrad course at Orsay in the same field. His original contributions at the interface of statistics and computer science were also quite pioneering at the time.

Those who knew him remember the incredibly friendly welcome he gave to students arriving from developing countries, which among other things included his inventiveness in getting them computers that worked by combining parts of broken ones (which just happened to be gathering dust in the recesses of his shambolic office, “just in case”). Those who knew him remember a colleague full of life who was always smiling and whose finesse and emotional intelligence contributed to nourishing the spirit of our community.

We will remember him fondly.

(Text by Elisabeth Gassiat and Pascal Massart.)