The brightest person I know retires

Working at Sun, I know lots of very bright people. I am also Sun's UK OS Ambassador for Education so I get to meet lots of Sun's brightest customers doing research into things I readily confess not to understand. So when I suggest that a particular individual is the brightest person I know, he is drawn from a wide and fertile gene pool so to speak.

Horst Holstein was probably further up the queue than anyone else I know when brain cells were being handed out. His research quality in the application of heavy maths to Geophysics and Bioengineering is world class. I remember dropping in to Horst's office one night in the University at Aberystwyth while I was writing up my PhD at about 9.30pm to say good night. I enquired about what Horst was doing and he commented his was working a research paper extending the work of a Russian mathematician to which the only reference was an obscure paper in Russian from many years ago. He said the maths was easy to grasp, but there were a number of Russian phrases he was struggling to translate.

I was lucky enough to be supervised by Horst for about 6 months while I worked in Aberystwyth in around 1993. It was early in my PhD where I was still looking for a research topic and Horst let me have the space to explore various areas of the literature on distributed systems and had wisdom to suggest an alternative supervisor who was more aligned with my interests. This was probably a very good thing as my little brain was just not up to the level of maths that Horst operates at.

I also remember Horst's skill at handling problem students with a mix of sympathy and respect. He helped me out with some of my more wayward tutees a number of times.

Horst has a reputation in Aberystwth as a 1st rate violin player and can speak a number of eastern european languages.

The skills that Horst does lack are skills of self promotion. Given the quality and volume of the body of research work that Horst has produced, I personally find it a travesty that Horst was not been given a more senior position.

Horst has been working 1/3 time for the past 3 years, so you would expect him to put his feet up now. His plans are to do research at an institution in Australia early next year for a few months and then carry on his research at Aberystwyth without having to worry about teaching or administration.

World class researcher, musician and nice chap, enjoy your retirement!

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