Caginalp helped develop math department’s probability course

Gunduz Caginalp, a 38-year mathematics faculty member, died Dec. 7, 2021.

“He was very serious about his teaching,” noted Jon Rubin, Caginalp’s department chair. “He viewed it with high importance. His emphasis was making sure we maintained high standards and that students completing our courses were well trained in mathematics.”

Caginalp taught calculus, courses for math majors and graduate courses across the spectrum. He was heavily involved in developing the department’s probability course.

As a researcher, he first studied applied mathematics relating to physics and materials science. His most influential research, according to Rubin, dealt with differential equation models describing the energy and other properties of boundaries between two different phases (such as liquid and solid) in a material.

“He also made multiple contributions to quantitative behavioral finance,” Rubin said, “which describes various factors that influence valuations of assets. For example, his recent studies on bubbles in cryptocurrency pricing attracted significant attention.”

Caginalp’s departmental colleague Christopher J. Lennard noted that Caginalp was quite active in advocating for various local issues, including maintaining the air quality of Pittsburgh by opposing the opening of a new coking plant and any potential issues that could arise from redevelopment of the Nine Mile Run area, as well as supporting intellectual property rights of Pitt faculty and the establishment of the faculty union.

Born in Ankara, Turkey, Caginalp earned his AB, MS and Ph.D. degrees from Cornell University, the last in 1978, and also taught at Cornell, Rockefeller and Carnegie Mellon universities. He published more than 100 papers in physics, materials science and economics/finance journals, including nine with Nobel Laureate Vernon Smith.

He served as the editor of the Journal of Behavioral Finance (1999-2003) and was an associate editor for many journals. He was the recipient of National Science Foundation and private foundation awards.

Caginalp is survived by his wife, Eva, and three sons, Reggie, Ryan and Carey, with the latter of whom he co-authored recent papers.

— Marty Levine