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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 81
R. H. BING
October 20, 1914–April 28, 1986
BY MICHAEL STARBIRD
R. H. BING LOVED TO work on problems in topology, perhaps because he was consummately successful at solving them. He was a mathematician of international renown, having written seminal research papers in general and geometric topology. The Bing-Nagata-Smirnov metrization theorem is a fundamental result in general topology that provides a characterization of which topological spaces are generated by a metric. His work and the methods he used in the study of the geometric topology of 3-dimensional space were so seminal and distinctive that that area of investigation is often referred to as Bing-type topology. His leadership both in research and in teaching resulted in his serving as president both of the American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America. However, we who knew him personally remember him most for his zest for life that infected everyone around him with a contagious enthusiasm and good humor. So this paper celebrates a life well lived, a life whose joy came partly from significant contributions to topology and partly from an overflowing joie de vivre.