Emeritus professor of mathematics Stephen A. Book died at his home in Seal Beach, Calif. on January 10. An expert on probability and statistics, he served as a faculty member at California State University, Dominguez Hills from 1970 to 2001.
“[Steve] volunteered his garage for my wife and me to use for storage during our 1972 move from Seattle to Los Angeles,” says Miles, recalling how the friendship began almost immediately upon his arrival to California to take a teaching position at the university. “Soon after our arrival, we were dinner guests in his home. We mourn Steve’s passing and are grateful to have the Book family as friends for what is now almost 40 years.”
A native of Bloomfield, N.J., Book earned his doctorate in mathematics at the University of Oregon. His research interests included serving as a member of two program review groups at NASA that focused on cost assessment, and NASA’s Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. He reviewed research articles in Russian and German for the journal Mathematical Reviews, and was a contributing editor of the Index of Statistics. He also wrote a text, “Essentials of Statistics,” which was used for many years at CSU Dominguez Hills. Book was a regular speaker for the Math Department Colloquium on campus and also participated in an earlier incarnation of Student Research Day called the CSUDH Celebration of Research and Scholarship.
While still a faculty member at CSU Dominguez Hills, he joined The Aerospace Corporation in 1980. There he worked on a wide variety of Air Force programs. He served as director of cost and requirements analysis and eventually was named a “Distinguished Engineer,” the highest honor bestowed by the corporation. After retirement from teaching, he took a job as chief technical officer at MCR in 2001. Book was semi-retired and continued to work at MCR at the time of his death.
Toni Boadi, a lecturer in the computer science department and director of the TAPESTRY (Towards an Academic Program to Enhance Student Success in Technical and Research Opportunity) program who double-majored in mathematics and computer science at CSU Dominguez Hills, was a student of Book’s. After graduation, she worked at The Aerospace Corporation upon his recommendation. She recalls his sense of humor – and difficult exams.
“Dr. Steve was an excellent instructor and a kind and compassionate man,” she says. “He set high standards but created a learning environment that was not stressful. His exams were challenging. However, Dr. Steve allowed us as much time as we liked to complete them. A typical exam might begin at 7 p.m. and we would often remain until 11 p.m. His approach allowed us more than enough time to think through the logic and soundness of our responses. He used to joke that we could send out for pizza if we liked.”
Book’s son Robert remembers attending math department events, and says thathe and some of his siblings sat in on their father’s classes while in high school.
“We all very much appreciated the supportive environment at CSUDH when my father was teaching there,” he says.
Professor of mathematics George Jennings remembers his colleague as someone who incorporated “real world” experience into his teaching.
“Steve was able to enrich his probability and statistics classes by drawing on material from his research and industrial experience,” he saysHe was a tough teacher, but the better students told me they appreciated the opportunity to learn from someone who was a leader in his field.”
Book is survived by his wife, Ruth, sons Robert and Lewis Book, daughters Elizabeth Kratz, Victoria Lupia, and Jacqueline Novikov; and eight grandchildren.