José de Sousa Ramos

(1948 - 2007)

José Rodrigues Santos de Sousa Ramos, mathematician of great merit, passed away on January 1st, 2007, in Lisbon. He was buried in Sobral da Adiça. His death was a huge loss for the development of mathematics in Portugal. The course of time will increase the dimension of this loss.

Born in Quarteira in 1948, he graduated in physics at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade Clássica de Lisboa where he also obtained his doctorate in Mathematics. From 1972 he was researcher at the Instituto de Física e Matemática and at the Centro de Física da Matéria Condensada, in Lisboa, at the Faculdade de Ciências da Universidade Clássica de Lisboa and, in the last fourteen years, he was professor at the Instituto Superior Técnico da Universidade Técnica de Lisboa.

In the memory of all the people that met Sousa Ramos it will last the noble nature of his human character made with extreme simplicity and modesty, as well as his overwhelming and systematic dedication to the students, day after day, or the memory of his delightful enthusiasm sharing his vast culture both in mathematics and physics. Moreover José de Sousa Ramos leaves a vast and remarkable written heritage, much richer than could suggest the mere counting of two hundred scientific papers in international magazines with referee. Most of his papers were in the field of discrete dynamical systems and, in particular, in symbolic dynamics.

The importance of the scientific work of José de Sousa Ramos lies in his great creative capacity and mental autonomy, sometimes putting him much ahead of his colleagues with original thoughts and afterthoughts, which, for precisely that reason, resulted in transgressive thinking and, naturally,  ideas to be later  polished. Nothing surprising for the people used to scientific reflection, and knowing that the scientific truth never erupts as a distilled potion and is, at first, a conquest made by using imperfect tools that will be perfected in the future.

We can say that José de Sousa Ramos created an actual school of mathematics, which is in itself a rare and notable achievement, like the one made half century back by the Portuguese eminent mathematician  José Sebastião e Silva whose effects still last today.

The fifteen doctorates that José de Sousa Ramos supervised and the same number still in course at the moment of his death prove the vigour of his influence. It is up to his disciples, in proper time and no delay, to clarify and divulgate the works of his master, fixing this works for the future in a systematic and organized manner. The Portuguese scientific institutions are entrusted to the task and the honour of publishing the works of José de Sousa Ramos, for the benefit of the society and community. We hope that our scientific community is mature enough to take this desideratum as a duty.