An Eulogy to my professor Dr. H.K.Kesavan (University of Waterloo, Canada)

I just heard that my professor from graduate school days at the University of Waterloo, Dr. H.K.Kesavan passed away earlier today (Nov 26, 2014). He was 88 years old. I was his student in early 1970s. During his illustrious career at the University of Waterloo, numerous students got their Masters and Ph.D degrees under his guidance. He was the founding chairman of a new interdisciplinary department called Systems Design engineering, where I also got my post-graduate education.

I had my undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering and this new discipline fascinated me then. It’s main theme was the use of computers for simulating varieties of complex systems and drew students from all sorts of engineering disciplines. His positive encouragement was the reason I joined such an unusual field then. There were civil engineers modeling water distribution systems. Electrical engineers modeled power distribution networks. He wrote a book called Analysis of Discrete Physical Systems using linear graph theory. We applied that theory in writing programs for complex networks.

University of Waterloo was a pioneering school in Canada, in the use of early computers and the Wat-IV and Wat-V compilers came from there during the 1960s. The IBM data center was quite a showpiece for visitors with all the latest mainframe 370 computers. Dr. Kesavan got his Ph.D. from Michigan State University back in 1959, where he also taught for a few years. He shifted to India during 1964-68 to be the chairman of electrical engineering department at IIT, Kanpur. After returning to the University of Waterloo, he served there from 1968 until his retirement in 1991. He continued as professor emeritus until the end.

During my student days, he would invite us to his house many times for dinner and his affection for his students was very deep and genuine. After many years, once I ran into him and his wife at the Toronto airport. His joy knew no bounds and he complimented me on my professional success. His work covered many areas from systems theory, linear graph theory to entropy optimization.

As his soul rests in eternal abode, I salute my teacher with reverence.

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3 responses to “An Eulogy to my professor Dr. H.K.Kesavan (University of Waterloo, Canada)

  1. I was not fortunate to have much interaction with Prof. HK Kesavan.
    I heard many good things about him from my good friend – his brother –
    H K Narayan.
    It is easy to see that he was a man of 20th century, a brilliant academician and a gracious individual.
    The people he leaves behind should celebrate his life and his accolpishments.
    May his souls rest in peace.

    “Meet this transient world
    with neither grasping or fear.
    Trust the unfolding of life
    and you will find true serenity”
    —— Bhagavad Gita

  2. Well said Mr. Giri…death is merely a transition in the continuum called life.

  3. Jnan Dash
    A touching tribute
    I had met Dr Kesavan only once but I remember him fondly
    I have so many friends who talk about him so highly
    I am sure he will keep blessing us from the Heavens

    S Sadagopan IIITB

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