Version of April 18, 2017. To be completed.
Outstanding former member of the Institute.
He worked here between 1954-1968 (he held the positions of Scientific Secretary of the Institute, and Sector Chief), and remained honorary member until 1975.
He published here the first book in Romania in the field of nomography (with F. Radó).
He is a member of the Cluj Team on Numerical Analysis and Approximation Theory.
(To be completed.)
Professor Lascu Bal was born in 1915 in Sălaşu de Sus, county of Hunedoara, son of Bal Ioan and Tirea Maria. His family was one of free peasants (“nemesi”). He was the second of seven siblings. His father died young, a few years after WW I, after having suffered a serious wound during the war.
Lascu Bal graduated the primary school in his village, nurtured by his teacher Nicodim Toderaş, whom he mentions in his memoirs with great fondness. The teacher, noticing the talent of his young pupil, wishes to adopt him in order to offer him better living conditions and access to higher education, but his mother does not agree to give him for adoption.
In 1927, he sits in the admittance exam for the High-school in Petroşani, succeeding among the first, even if competing against children who had access to much better education and had considerably better living conditions than him. He graduated first in his class in each of the high-school years, receiving yearly scholarships. In order to cover all the costs needed for his study, not fully covered by the scholarship, Lascu Bal offered private tuition to well-off colleagues starting from his first year of high-school. Although attracted by natural sciences and history, his great passion was mathematics, also due to an exceptional young teacher, Ion Mărgineanu. Lascu Bal was the president of the Science Society of the high-school, making presentations particularly on the topics of mathematics and astronomy.
He took the Baccalaureat exam in Deva in 1934, graduating the first in the county of Hunedoara.
Later in 1934 he moved to Cluj and was admitted to the Faculty of Science of the largest university in Transylvania. Among his university Professors, he particularly admired Prof. Iuga and Prof. D.V. Ionescu. A young and talented Assistant Professor, Tiberiu Popoviciu, also makes a strong impression on him, and they become lifelong friends.
He spends his holidays in his home village by the mountains of Retezat, living in a shepherd’s hut and marking mountain tracks for the Romanian Alpine Club.
Having been an outstanding student, he had requests to assist colleagues or younger pupils, who later became friends for life. He mentions for example in his memoirs to have taught “the children of Professor Papilian and of General Gheorghieş”. Due to his outstanding results at exams, he continues receiving a scholarship during each of his university years.
He graduates in 1937, and his first employment is of Library Secretary at the Geometry Seminary. In this role he organizes in 1940 the transfer of the library of the Faculty of Mathematics from Cluj to Sibiu, where the university offices took initially refuge after the Diktat.
On 1 January 1941 Lascu Bal is appointed Preparatory Assistant in the Department of Thermodynamics and Electricity led by Prof. Augustin Maior. Still in 1941, he is drafted in the army, where he will remain, because of the war, until June 1945. He has been officer in the Mounted Artillery, serving on the front, both towards East, then West. He was decorated with the Crown of Romania Class I.
After the end of the war he continues his academic career at the Department of Mechanics led by Prof. Caius Iacob, starting as Teaching Assistant.
Encouraged by Caius Iacob, he chooses as area of work the Fluid Mechanics. In 1949 he successfully defends his PhD thesis on the Motion of Solids in Rotating Fluids. He is immediately afterwards appointed Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Pharmacy, at the recommendation and with the support of Prof. Tiberiu Popoviciu, then vice-Dean of the Faculty of Mathematics.
In 1950 he is also appointed substitute Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Mathematics. The courses he now teaches are General Mathematics at the Faculty of Geology-Geography, and of Foundations of Mathematics and Geometry at the Faculty of Mathematics.
In 1951, the Mathematics section of the Romanian Academy, Cluj Office is being set up (this is the precursor of the Institute of Numerical Analysis – ICTP), and Prof. Bal is appointed researcher here too. He starts a fruitful cooperation with Francisc Radó, the result being books and papers published in specialist journals. He also organizes research groups for students and young researchers.
In 1953 he marries former student Iuliana Iancu, mathematics teacher, with whom he has two children: Lucinia-Lenuţa (1954), and Radu-Lascu (1957).
In summer 1954 he is appointed Deputy Director of the Cluj Library of the Romanian Academy, responsibility shared with the great poet and philosopher Lucian Blaga. This library includes the books of the former Library in Blaj, and of three Hungarian libraries from Transylvania that had functioned between the two world wars. Most books and manuscripts, many of great value, were not yet inventoried. The task of Prof. Bal was to organise the inventory and preservation of these materials. Here he cooperates with Prof. David Prodan, who will become a long-term friend.
In 1956, his first printed book is issued: “Nomography lessons”, co-authored with F. Radó.
During 1959 he sets up within the Institute of Numerical Analysis a first Mathematics course for medical doctors. He includes in this course Geometry.
In 1960 he is appointed President of the Board for Mathematics and Physics Teacher Final Examinations.
In 1961 he is appointed Professor at the Polytechnic Institute in Cluj, where in 1962 he becomes Head of the Department of Mathematics.
In 1963 he co-organizes the Conference on the Approximation of Functions with Applications in Numerical Computation, Conference held at the Cluj Branch of the Romanian Academy.
In December 1965 he publishes the article “Nomograms: a fast computational method” in the journal “Science and technology”.
In September 1970 he takes part in the International Congress of Mathematics in Nice, France. He starts cooperation with the German scientific journal Zentralblatt für Mathematik, and with the the journal of the American Mathematical Society, Mathematical Reviews. His second book, Mathematical Analysis, is published also in 1970, by the Technical Publishing House (in Romanian, “Editura tehnică”) in Bucharest.
He retires in 1977, continuing the reviews for Zentralblatt and for the Mathematical Reviews.
In his Memoirs (not published) he mentions having worked at the Institute of Numerical Analysis between 1954-1968, dealing with research in the fields of Nomography, Graphic Computation, Rational Mechanics, Differential Geometry. He actively involved the young researchers in his work. He has written over 50 scientific papers.
He died on 24 December 1998, in Cluj, and was buried in his village Sălaşu de Sus.
To be completed.
The activity and results of prof. Lascu Bal is presented in some books on history of mathematics:
- Şt. M. Andonie, Istoria matematicilor aplicate clasice din România. Mecanică şi astronomie, Editura Academiei RSR, 1971.