My grandfather, László Kalmár was an exceptional person, a very talented mathematician. To us he was Nagyapo (grandfather) – that is how all of us called him at home.

I don’t have too many memories of him since he passed away in 1976 when I was only 7 years old.

I do have a few pictures in my mind, we used to have breakfasts together (we stayed right next door to where he lived with my grandmother), I remember him riding his bicycle to university and back.

He was very absent-minded – we used to joke about it – for example on rainy days he used to walk about on the corridors of the university with his umbrella open – as he forgot to close the umbrella after stepping inside the building. (I am not sure if this is true – but probably I am right).

Nagyapo normally was very busy with the science projects he was involved in. He was also lecturing at the university of Szeged, my home town. I remember sitting in the big lecture hall watching him explain complex mathematical formulas to the students. For me it was all so boring – as I was very young (not that later I was more interested in all those formulas – I was never really good at mathematics).

Trying to sum up the projects he was involved in – here is a quote from The MacTutor History of Mathematics archive :

“He founded at Szeged the first chair for the Foundations of Mathematics and Computer Science and then became the first to occupy the chair. This was not all he founded at Szeged, for he also set up the Cybernetic Laboratory and the Research Group for Mathematical Logic and Automata Theory.

…. He was acknowledged as the leader of Hungarian mathematical logic.

…. Kalmár was also involved in theoretical computer science and promoted the development of computer science and the use of computers in Hungary. His special fields of interest in computer science included programming languages, automatic error correction, non-numerical applications of computers and the connection between computer science and mathematical logic.”

The Wikipedia says :

“He is considered the founding father of both Logic and Theoretical Computer Science in Hungary.”

in 1996 – he was posthumously awarded the computer poineer award by IEEE Computer Society “For recognition as the developer of a 1956 logical machine and the design of the MIR computer in Hungary”

Very big words – an unbelievable life.

Surprisingly I never worked with computers while I was in Hungary. While most others in my family (especially the guys) were quite into computers – I was busy with music and languages.

I only started working with computers when I arrived in South Africa. We bought a PC because I wanted to use the Internet to keep in touch with family in Hungary.

That was 7 years ago. Since then I cannot get enough of it. It’s unbelievable what one can achieve with computers – it’s an amazingly versatile tool – especially when it comes to using it as a tool for global communication & collaboration.

So now that I am so interested in computers I will definitely spend time finding out all about my grandfather’s projects and also make sure that everyone else gets to learn about him and will get inspired to start their own mathematics related projects.