Concepts familiar from grade-school algebra have broad ramifications in computer science.
James T. Albrecht, a senior majoring in mathematics and physics, who was widely respected for his contributions to academic and student life at MIT, died on July 22 in New York City.
Albrecht, 21, fell from a building, according to New York City police reports.
"We are all deeply saddened by this tragic loss," said MIT President Susan Hockfield. "Our hearts go out to the Albrecht family."
The MIT community will miss Albrecht's positive presence at the Institute, from his enthusiasm for mathematics, physics, economics and computer science to his leadership in dormitory life.
A native of Naperville, Ill., Albrecht was living in New York's East Village and working as a summer intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., an investment and technology development firm.
MIT mathematics professor David Vogan, Albrecht's advisor, said he would miss the fourth-year student whom he described as "cheerful, helpful, self-deprecating and generally a pleasure to talk to."
"What I saw mostly was his great generosity with his academic talent," Vogan said.
Albrecht's commitment to student life led him to assume leadership roles; he was president of Baker House, his dormitory, and was elected as executive vice president of the Dormitory Council in May 2007.
Albrecht planned to graduate with his class in June 2008 then enter a master's degree program in either computation for design and optimization or in applied math, his advisor said.
Albrecht is survived by his parents, Jay and Marita; his grandmother, Bonny, and his brother, John, all of Naperville; a sister, Maggie, of Houston, Texas, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins.
A memorial mass will be said at Ss. Peter and Paul Catholic Church, 36 Ellsworth St., Naperville, Ill. on Friday, July 27 at 11:00 a.m.
A memorial at MIT is planned for later this year.