Frank W.J. Olver, mathematician

April 30, 2013

Frank W.J. Olver, 88, a National Institute of Standards and Technology mathematician and professor at the University of Maryland, died April 23 at Shady Grove Adventist Hospital in Rockville of infections following a knee-replacement operation. He lived in Silver Spring.

His son, Peter J. Olver, confirmed his death.

Dr. Olver joined what then was the National Bureau of Standards in 1961. He retired in 1986 but remained active with NIST until his death. In 1968, he became a research professor at the University of Maryland, where he worked and taught until 1992, when he became an emeritus professor.

His first book, “Asymptotics and Special Functions” (1974), became a standard reference book.

Dr. Olver was mathematics editor for the NIST Handbook of Mathematical Functions, which was published by Cambridge University Press in 2010. The handbook, which took 10 years to complete, is an authoritative reference volume for the special functions of mathematics.

His awards included the Commerce Department’s Gold Medal.

Frank William John Olver was born in Croydon, England. He graduated in 1944 from the University of London, where he received a master’s degree in 1948 and a doctorate in 1961, both in mathematical analysis.

Before coming to the United States, Dr. Olver worked in the British Admiralty computing service and helped found the mathematics division of Britain’s National Physical Laboratory.

His first wife, Grace Elizabeth Smith Olver, died in 1980. Their daughter, Linda Olver, died in 1965.

Survivors include his wife of 23 years, Claire White Olver of Silver Spring; two children from his first marriage, Peter Olver of Minneapolis and Sally Sondergaard of Severna Park; a brother; and five grandchildren.

— Bart Barnes