Memorial page for Miroslav Fiedler

1926 - 2015

With a deep sorrow we inform that Professor Miroslav Fiedler, researcher emeritus in the Institute of Mathematics and Institute of Computer Science of the Czech Academy of Sciences, member of the Learned Society of the Czech Republic and Honorary Member of the Union of Czech Mathematicians and Physicists passed away peacefully at his home in the morning of 20th November 2015. As we grieve for our friend and colleague, we come together here to celebrate his life and contributions. On this page we encourage you to share ways in which Mirek made an impact on you or mathematics, anecdotes, funny stories, etc.
Please send your contributions to

Dear Prague-ians,
Miroslav had a special relationship with Auburn. In 1969/70 he spent a year at Auburn with Emily Haynsworth who had invited him. They together organized the first Auburn Matrix Conference in 1970. I was a graduate student at the time and my advisor Olga Tausky-Todd made sure that her graduate students (Raphy Loewy, Charlie Johnson and I) traveled to this Conference. That summer I saw Auburn and Emily’s octagonal house in the countryside for the first time. Around the countryside of Auburn were many still inhabited shacks from olden times with old men and women sitting on porches, black. Later in 1982 I came to Auburn as a professor and in a way succeeded Emily here; with organizing (with Bob Grone, Peter Nylen and Tin-Yau Tam) three additional conferences. Miroslav came to each of them and about 5-8 (?) years ago he made a special trip to see Auburn and Emily’s house for one more time. What a wonderful visit this was, reminiscing together. Most memorable now was the trip that he and Vlastimil Ptak took in the summer of 1992 when the Iron Curtain had well vanished. They drove from Prague to Lisbon in an
old Soviet era car to the ILAS Conference there, through Germany, Switzerland, France and Spain and had a few breakdowns and miraculous saves by locals on the way. They were so proud of this feat and their mathematics. And the return drive home went miraculously well. The last time I saw Miroslav was at WONRA12 in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, where he gave a very rewarding lecture. Miroslav invited me multiple times to come to Prague, but I never had a chance to go. I will miss him.

Frank Uhlig

I was very sad to learn that Professor Miroslav Fiedler passed away last November. Professor Fiedler and I met on several occasions, and he impressed me with his personality, his friendliness, openness, energy and modesty. As a collaborator of several Czech mathematicians and frequent visitor of the Institute of Computer Science of the CAS and the Charles University, I can vividly imagine that he will be missed and remembered in the Czech academic community. As a scientist and researcher, this remarkable man produced some fundamental results in linear algebra and graph theory that nowadays bear his name. One example is of course the „Fiedler vector“ in algebraic graph theory, which I learned about as a student, many years before we first met. Another one is the „Fiedler matrix“, which is a part of the MATLAB „matrix gallery“. I just recently used it in numerical experiments for a paper, and since Professor Fiedler was 88 years old by the time of the writing, I chose the matrix to be of size 88 x 88 in his honor. These examples show that he also will be greatly missed by our community worldwide.

Joerg Liesen, TU Berlin, Germany

Dear Eva and family,
I am saddened to learn of Mirek’s passing today. I have so many good memories of my visits to Prague with Mirek and all of you, and you will all be in my prayers at this time.


(Thomas Markham)

Dear Eva and family,
Annie and I wish to send our most sincere condolences on the passing of Mirek. It has been a very sad time for us. Yet, we do have such wonderful memories of Mirek. It was a huge honor and privilege to work closely with Mirek since 2010. He was an exceptionally kind person, a dear friend, a tremendous inspiration, and a great mathematician. Mirek was remarkable in his creativity, tenacity, knowledge of mathematics, and wealth of new ideas. He indeed loved to solve problems! I am thankful for the time that I had with Mirek and all of you during these past years. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this very difficult time.

Frank Hall

To the family of Miroslav Fiedler
Please accept my sincere sympathy. Mirek was a wonderful and modest human being, and a great mathematician. His contributions to mathematics have had, and continue to have a profound effect in linear algebra, geometry, and discrete mathematics. We will miss him.


Richard Brualdi

Dear Mrs. Fiedler,
I am deeply saddened by the loss that you and your family have encountered. I am a colleague of Professor Fiedler from the same department. It was an honor to have known such a great person and I will truly miss him.

Sincerely yours

Hong Van Le

Please accept my condolences on this sad occasion. As a mathematician, Professor Fiedler was a pioneer in the discipline of linear algebra, and his insights opened doors for many researchers that followed, myself included. As a person, I found him to be a gentlemen of quiet integrity who showed genuine warmth for and interest in those around him.

I am lucky to have known him, and he will be missed.


Steve Kirkland

I first met Professor Miroslav Fiedler at a lecture that he gave at the Institute of Mathematics of Polish Academy of Sciences. He gave wonderful lectures, and was always exceptionally warm, friendly and helpful. He was also a first-rate scientist, and will be fondly and gratefully remembered by all.

Alicja Smoktunowicz

On behalf of the International Linear Algebra Society I would like to say that we are deeply saddened by the news of Professor Miroslav Fiedler passing. Our deepest sympathies go out to his family. He will not be forgotten.

Peter Semrl

Vážený pán riaditeľ, vážení kolegovia,
so zármutkom nad správou, že nás opustil pán profesor Fiedler, nám dovoľte vyjadriť našu úprimnú sústrasť celej čekej matematickej obci ako aj rodine pána profesora. S menom profesora Miroslava Fiedlera je spojený rozvoj vela matematických disciplín. Sme mu vďačný za jeho obrovskú matematickú prácu, ale aj za jeho vedomosti, ľudský, vľúdny prístup ku kolegom bez ohľadu na vek a skúsenosti. Pomohol mnohým slovenským matematikov pri ich ceste ku výsledkom. Patrí mu náš obdiv k jeho dielu a vďaka za jeho pomoc. Strácame v ňom staršieho priateľa, radcu a stopercentne korektného, ale vľúdneho človeka.
Česť jeho dielu a pamiatke!

Karol Nemoga, riaditeľ Matematického ústavu SAV

To the family of Miroslav Fiedler,
It with deep sorrow that I have heard of the loss of Miroslav. I have known him for many many years. He has always been an important colleague and also someone who always was the best of friends with everyone.
I am very sorry for your loss.
With deepest sorrow

Henry Wolkowicz

Dear Friends and Family of Miroslav Fiedler,
I was proud to be able to say the Mirek was a good and dear friend, as well as mathematical colleague. I am deeply saddened by his passing, but most impressed by his life and career. Please accept my very best thoughts and memories.

Charlie Johnson

I was so sad to hear that Mirek has died. We were very good friends for over fifty years, and we were greatly happy to see one and another at meetings over the world. When we first met, he spoke some English, excellent German, Czech, and Russian, but his English quickly became excellent too. I remember that he came to Kent State in 1970 for a lecture, and I was smoking a pipe. He said that I should not smoke, as it was bad for my health, and he was right, and I stopped! At another time, we were in France, I believe, and I was having dinner with a number of mathematicians, including Alexander Ostrowski, who spoke with me. Somehow, for reasons I don’t understand, he asked me if I did exercises, and I answered that I did head-stands. Then, he asked me to do one right then and there, as it appeared that he didn’t believe me. Now, to do a head-stand in a private home living room, is far from mathematics, but I decided to do a head-stand, even though it was truly odd. But, Mirek sensed my problem and nicely joined me in his doing a head-stand with me! I will truly miss him.

Richard Varga

Dear friends and colleagues,
I was deeply saddened by Prof. Fiedler’s passing last week (I first heard the news from my Emory colleague Vojta Rodl). He was a wonderful, kind man and a great scholar. He is no longer with us, but is legacy in mathematics will endure. I was deeply honored to meet him numerous times over the past 20 years, in Prague and elsewhere. It was always a great pleasure to talk with him. So accomplished, and yet so humble — a real gentleman of the old school.
Please accept my most heartfelt condolences.


Michele Benzi

Dear Mrs. Fiedler and family,

I am sorry for your loss. But I would like to let you know that I have wonderful memories of Mirek. He was a very kind and humble person and a great mathematician. I attach a picture that we (Mirek, you and I) took in Poland. May God strengthen you during the difficult times.

(Tin-Yau Tam)

To the family and colleagues of Mirek Fiedler.
I first met Mirek in 1980 in the United States. He was a visiting professor at Auburn and came to visit California where I was a post-doctoral fellow. He was very encouraging and supportive over the next 35 years, showing a keen interest in my work. I met him often in conferences, and he also visited Delhi once. I last met him in 2013 when he was a gracious and energetic host to me and my wife during our short visit to Prague, walking in the rain to show us downtown Prague and driving us to Karlovy Vary. A few months after that he came down with a serious illness, but he continued to write emails discussing mathematics. In 2014 he showed the same eagerness and curiosity about what I was doing as he had done in 1980.
My wife and I send our condolences at his passing away. We are grateful to have known him.

Rajendra Bhatia

With regret I heard that Miroslav Fiedler has passed away. It was always a pleasure to meet him. Not only for me, but also for my wife who is not a mathematician. We hope that those near to him may find comfort in the fact that during his life, Miroslav was appreciated so much by those who came into contact with him.
Best regards,

Harm Bart
Erasmus University Rotterdam

From Madrid (Spain),
I would like to express my most sincere condolences by the decease of Prof. Fiedler to his family and to all Czech Mathematics Community. I only met Prof. Fiedler twice in person, but I have spent in the last 9 years considerable time reading some of his papers and working on problems motivated by his extremely original research. His works have been for me a source of inspiration. This is one of the nicest things of doing research: one can share many ideas on the distance and to feel strongly connected to other persons. Prof. Fiedler is an example for me, and for all researchers: he was doing top research in mathematics almost until the end of his long and productive life. I will miss him.
Best regards,

Froilán M. Dopico

Milý pane profesore,
jsem velice rád, že jsem Vás poznal. Jste a budete pro mne inspirací, profesní i osobní. Snad budu mít to štěstí se s Vámi někdy znovu setkat, ať už kdekoliv. Nemohu to vyjádřit jinak, než že se na to budu těšit.
Přeji hodně sil a jistoty Vaší rodině i přátelům.

Srdecně Martin Lanzendörfer

To whom it may concern:
On November 20th the mathematics community lost a great man in Prof. Miroslav Fiedler. For many of us in Linear Algebra, including myself, we grew up reading and studying the wealth of contributions that Prof. Fiedler produced over the years and ended up idolizing him and his legacy. However, upon meeting him you were treated to an encounter with a true gentleman. Prof. Fiedler was a kind and gentle soul that was always happy to sit and discuss mathematics with anyone at any level. I will always remember Prof. Fiedler standing up in a lecture to ask the speaker a question or to provide a comment, yet making sure not to disrespect any aspect of the lecture. One of my proudest moments in my short mathematical journey was working with and collaborating with Prof. Fiedler on a project involving generalized oscillatory matrices. Professor Miroslav Fiedler will be truly missed and my heart goes out to his family during this time of enormous loss.


Shaun Fallat

In all of my encounters with Professor Fiedler, who regularly reminded me to call him Mirek, he manifested a love for mathematics – its ideas, its processes and its practitioners. Despite the vast differences in our ages, our status and our respective command of matrix theory, he always treated me as both a personal acquaintance and as a colleague. His talks and his conversations were always about something greater than his own work, and he always seemed eager to encourage less prominent mathematicians to do research. I have always enjoyed his collegial smile and his thoughtful interest in my efforts. I will miss seeing him at matrix theory conferences, even though I hardy knew him as a person. I am sure that your sense of loss is infinitely deeper, and I can only offer my condolences.

Jeff Stuart

To the family of Professor Fiedler,
I would like to express my sorrow and sympathy for such a great loss to the world’s Math community. Professor Fiedler had and will continue to have an important influence to the development of Spectral Graph Theory in Brazil. As a leader of the group of researchers in this area in Rio de Janeiro, I have had the pleasure to receive Professor Fiedler here in 2008. He was not only a great mathematician, but also- as we could notice-a kind and charismatic man. My group and I are all very sad. Once again, so sorry for your loss.

Nair Abreu

Dear Eva,

We only just now received the sad news of Mirek’s passing. It has been near 30 years since the Fiedlers took such wonderful care of the Merris family during our visit to Praha — kindnesses that we will never
forget. Since then, I have had the honor and pleasure of seeing Mirek often enough to think of him not only as a mathematical mentor, but as one of my dearest friends. Humanity is the lesser for his passing. But, you don’t need me to tell you these things. Nor, I think, could anything I might write be of much comfort to one who has suffered such a painful loss.


(Karen, Kimberly, Rhian &) Russ

Vážený pane kolego,
děkuji za Vaši osobní zprávu, která také mne velmi zarmoutila. Profesora Fiedlera znal jsem od podzimu 1961, díky matematické olympiádě. Později byl mým prvním vědeckým školitelem na MFF UK a v MÚ ČSAV. To vše mne přivedlo k hledání elegantních cest, nejen v matematice, s čímž se potýkam dodnes. Není to lehké, ale inspirace byla přesvědčivá a silná. Proto rád vzpomínám na své začátky v Praze. Jsem rád, že v posledních letech znovu mohli jsme se častěji stýkat s Profesorem Fiedlerem, v Polsku i v Praze, a také na konferencích ve Finsku, Izraeli a na Tchaj-wanu (naposledy v červenci 2012).
Prosím přijměte moji upřímnou soustrast pro celý Váš ústav.
Srdecně zdraví,

Jaroslav Zemánek z Varšavy

s velkou lítostí jsem přijal zprávu o úmrtí pana prof. RNDr. Miroslava Fiedlera, DrSc. Pana profesora jsem poznal kolem roku 1970, když jsem začal pracovat ve výboru MO. Takže jsme se potkávali pravidelně na jednáních a na celostátních kolech MO. Ve výboru MO byl až do současné doby. Všichni jsme oceňovali jeho moudrost, jeho Věcné připomínky a jeho stálou péči o talenty v matematice. Mnohem více jsem pana profesora poznal jako člena terminologické komise, která v průběhu asi 8-10 let připravila vydání „Názvy a značky školské matematiky“ a následně „Slovník školské matematiky“. A v neposlední řadě jsem pana profesora poznával jako dlouholetého člena výboru JČMF. Všichni víme, že patřil mezi přední české matematiky, že jeho vědecká činnost byla evropského i světového rozsahu.
Přijměte, prosím, jménem mým i jménem cele Jednoty českých matematiků a fyziků upřímnou a hlubokou soustrast nad odchodem pana profesora.

Čest jeho památce !

V hluboké úctě Josef Kubát, předseda JČMF

P.S. Tlumočte, prosím, tuto soustrast zarmoucené rodině pana profesora.

I was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Professor Miroslav Fiedler, one of the giants of linear algebra and matrix theory. He was a close personal friend and collaborator of my late advisor Emily Haynsworth. His ability to see connections with other dissimilar branches of mathematics was truly outstanding and sparked interest in the study of linear algebra by diverse groups of mathematicians. He will be sorely missed, especially by those who have read his insightful papers.


Ronald L. Smith, Professor of Mathematics
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Dear Colleagues,
Very sorry to know the sad news. Mirek’s passing is a tremendous loss of his family, friends, and the mathematics community. I had the pleasure of talking with Mirek at several conferences and have benefitted from his insightful comments. It was our great honor that Mirek visited GSU in 2012 and we discussed some topics of common interest. He is so highly accomplished, illuminating, humble, and friendly. Mirek will be missed dearly by all of us.

Zhongshan (Jason) Li

Dear colleagues,
please accept our condolences in relation to today’s passing away of Professor Miroslav Fiedler. The attached letter expresses our sympathy to his family and collaborators.

Yours as ever,

Pavel Exner