Edith H. Luchins | 1921-2002

Edith Hirsch Luchins, mathematician and one of the most eminent Gestalt psychologists of the third generation, has passed away November 18, 2002. She was 80. She is survived by her husband, five children, and numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.Edith H. Luchins received a B.A. from Brooklyn College in 1942, an M.S. from New York University in 1944, and a Ph.D. from University of Oregon in 1957. Luchins' research focused on the application of mathematics to problems in the philosophy of science and psychology, particularly in the areas of logical foundations, learning, and perception. She had worked on mathematical models of order effects in information processing; on gender differences in cognitive processes and their implications for teaching and learning mathematics; and on the roles of heuristics and algorithms in mathematical problem solving, with and without the use of computers. She was also interested in the history of mathematics, and, in particular, the history of women in mathematics and what can be done to encourage more women to pursue studies and careers in mathematics.
Edith H. Luchins, who served as professor of mathematical sciences at Rensselaer from 1962 until 2002, was the first woman to be appointed full professor at Rensselaer. She attained emeritus status in 1992, but continued to be involved in research in the math department.
Luchins established the Max Hirsch Prize in mathematics in honor of her father. She spent countless hours advising pre- and post-doctoral students. Among her many honors were the Rensselaer Distinguished Teaching Award, the Darrin Counseling Award, the Martin Luther King Jr. Award, and the Rensselaer Alumni Association Outstanding Faculty Award. She was a distinguished visiting professor of mathematics at the United States Military Academy in West Point in 1991-1992. In July 1994 she was appointed adjunct professor of cognitive sciences at the Rensselaer Institute.
In 1998 Edith Luchins, who had served for many years as a member of the Advisory Board of the journal GESTALT THEORY, accepted the honorary membership of the international Society for Gestalt Theory and its Applications (GTA).
Edith H. Luchins is well known for her outstanding contributions in many areas of Gestalt theory and Gestalt theory history. Her work in this area is closely linked with that of her husband, Abraham S. Luchins, with whom she shared her private as well as most of her intellectual and scientific life. Their partnership gave life to numerous important scientific contributions and publications in a large variety of areas. A selection of these is listed below.
It is a great sadness for the Society for Gestalt Theory and its Applications (GTA) to have lost one of its most esteemed members.

Selected bibliography of Edith H. Luchins

Books and Chapters

  • RIGIDITY OF BEHAVIOR, University of Oregon Books, 1959 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • LOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF MATHEMATICS FOR BEHAVIORAL SCIENTISTS, Holt Rinehart, and Winston, New York, 1965 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • MATHEMATICS SUPPLEMENT TO INTRODUCTION TO NATURAL SCIENCE, Academic Press, New York, 1968 (with V. L. Parsegian et al).
  • Diagnostic Testing for Understanding of Structure, in THINKING: READINGS IN COGNITIVE SCIENCE, ed. by P. N. Johnson-Laird and P. C. Wason, Cambridge University Press, London, 1977, Chapter 1 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • Female Mathematicians: A Contemporary Appraisal, in WOMEN AND THE MATHEMATICAL MYSTIQUE, ed. by Lynn H. Fox et al. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1980, Chapter 2 (with A. S. Luchins). Paperback edition and hard-cover edition.
  • Olga Taussky-Todd in WOMEN IN MATHEMATICS, ed. by Louise Grinstein et al, Greenwood Press, New York, 1987.
  • MAX WERTHEIMER'S LIFE AND BACKGROUND: SOURCE MATERIALS, Volumes I and II. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY, 1991-1993 (with A. S. Luchins).

Journal Articles

  • "Towards Intrinsic Methods in Testing," J. Educ. Psychol., 37, 142-148, 1946 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "A Structural Approach to the Teaching of the Concept of Area in Intuitive Geometry," J. Educ. Research, 7, 528-533, 1947 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "The Satiation Theory ofFigural After-Effects and Gestalt Principles of Perception," J. Gen. Psychol., 49, 3-29, 1953 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Variables and Functions," Psychol. Rev., 61, 315-32, 1954 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Two Philosophies of Science: A Study in Contrasts," Synthese, XV, No. 3, 292-316, 1963 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Logicism," Scripta Math., 27, 223-243, 1964 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Reactions to Inconsistencies: Phenomenal Versus Logical Contradictions," J. Gen. Psychol., 73, 47-65, 1965 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "The Effect of Massing or Spacing Communications on Primacy Effect," J. Gen. Psychol., 79, 191- 199, 1968 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • Strengthening motivational factors to tell the truth. J. Soc. Psychol., 1970, 81, 55-62.
  • Effects of preconceptions and communications on impressions of a person. J. Soc. Psychol., 1970, 81, 243-252 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • The effects of order of presentation of information and explanatory models. J. Soc. Psychol., 1970, 80, 63-70 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Prescriptive Dimensions ofGestalt Psychology: A Critical Evaluation," Methodology and Science, 11, 13-33, 1978 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Geometric Problem Solving Related to Differences in Sex and Mathematical Interests," J. of Genetic Psychology, 134, 255-269, 1979 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Sex Differences in Mathematics: How Not to Deal with Them," The American Mathematical Monthly, 86, 3, 161-168, 1979.
  • "Introduction to the Einstein-Wertheimer Correspondence," Methodology and Science, Special Einstein Issue, 12, 165-202, 1979 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Women and Mathematics: Fact and Fiction," The Mathematical Monthly, 88 (6), 413-419, 1981.
  • "On the Inapplicability ofDichotomous Prescriptive Terms to Characterize Gestalt Psychology," Gestalt Theory, 3, 5-19, 1981 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Einstellung Effects in Learning by Repetition: Sex Differences," Genetic Psychology Monographs, 106, 319-342, 1982 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "An Introduction to the Origins ofWertheimer's Gestalt Psychology," Gestalt Theory, 4, 3-4, December 1982, 145-171 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Students' Misconceptions in Geometric Problems Solving," Proceedings of the International Seminar, Misconceptions in Science and Mathematics, June 20-22, 1983 Comell University, Ithaca, NY, 214-217 (with A. S. Luchins). Based on talk given in June 1983 by E. H. Luchins.
  • "Primary Effects and the Nature of the Communications: Movie Pictures," J. General Psychology, 110, 11-22, 1984 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Sex Differences in Reasons Given for Responses to the Water-Jar Problems," J. Psychology, 118,(2), 207-220, 1985 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Students' Misconceptions in Geometric Problem Solving," Gestalt Theory, 7(2), 66-77, 1985 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "The RPI Report on the New York State High School Mathematics Curriculum: Courses I-II-III," New York Mathematics Teachers' Journal, 35(35), 121-131, 1985 (with B. A. Fleishman, L. A. Rubenfeld).
  • "American Students' Achievements on International Mathematics Tests, " New York State Mathematics Teachers Journal, 36(3), 137-139, 1986.
  • "Algorithms vs. Heuristic Strategies in Computer Simulated Problem Solving," Proceedings of the Second International Seminar, Misconceptions and Educational Strategies, Comell University, Vol. 11, 285-300, 1987 (with A. S. Luchins). Based on talk delivered in August 1987 by E. H. Luchins.
  • "Computer Simulation, Algorithms, and Heuristics in Einstellung Effects," Genetic, Social, and General Psychology Monographs, 115(1), 49-80, 1989 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "The Einstein-Wertheimer Correspondence on Geometric Proofs," The Mathematical Intelligencer, 12(2), 35-43, 1988 (with A. S. Luchins). (This article was reviewed in College Mathematics Journal, November 1990).
  • "Task Complexity and Order Effect in Computer Presentation of Water-Jar Problems," Journal of General Psychology, 118(1), 45-72, 1991 (with A. S. Luchins)
  • "Preparation for College Mathematics Teaching: The West Point Model from a Visiting Professor's Perspective," Report of the Committee on Preparation of College Teachers, 1993.
  • "Linear Recurrences in Difference Triangles" (with R. Hendel et al). Fibonnaci Quarterly, 1996
  • "Einstellungseffekte: Der Einfluß von EDV-gestützter versus schriftlicher Aufgabenpräsentation bei den klassischen "Wasserkrug"-Problemen,". Gestalt Theory, 18, 143-147, 1996 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "A Sampling of Gestalt psychologists' remarks on psychoanalysis," Gestalt Theory, 19 (2), 128-139, 1997(with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Imagery and Visualization," Gestalt Theory, 19 (4), 217-230, 1997(with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Commentary on VICARIOs: WERTHEIMERs principles of organization," Gestalt Theory, 20 (4), 270-282, 1998 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Concerning Analysis of Gestalt Concepts by Kurt GRELLING and Paul OPPENHEIM," Gestalt Theory, 21 (1), 40-42, 1999 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Overview of 'Gestalt' as 'functional whole' and related papers," Gestalt Theory, 21 (1), 43-48, 1999 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Isomorphism in Gestalt theory: Comparison of WERTHEIMERs and KÖHLERs concepts," Gestalt Theory, 21 (3), 208-234, 1999 (with A. S. Luchins).
  • "Kurt GRELLING: Steadfast Scholar in a Time of Madness," Gestalt Theory, 22 (4), 228-281, 2000 (with A.S. Luchins).