Ryszard Syski; Telephone Traffic Expert

Friday, July 6, 2007

Ryszard Syski, 83, an internationally known University of Maryland mathematics professor, died June 11 at Suburban Hospital of complications from a brain injury resulting from a fall. He was a Silver Spring resident.

Mr. Syski, who taught at the College Park campus from 1961 to 1999, wrote "Introduction to Congestion Theory in Telephone Systems" in 1960, and it has remained a bestseller in its field, with a second edition published in 1986.

In 1973, he co-founded the journal Stochastic Processes and Their Applications. In the following years, he became a member of the organizing committee of the Conferences in Stochastic Processes, which later evolved to the 1,500-member Bernoulli Society for Mathematical Statistics and Probability.

A native of Plock, Poland, Mr. Syski grew up on the family estate outside of Warsaw. After Germany invaded Poland in 1939, Mr. Syski and his parents joined the Polish Resistance Army, and their mansion was used as a meeting place for the Army's command. In 1943, the family was almost killed when the Gestapo attacked their home with the intention of gaining control of the command.

Mr. Syski, a corporal in the resistance, fought in the 1944 Warsaw uprising. After its collapse, he spent six months in Nazi prisoner-of-war camps until the camps were liberated in 1945. Mr. Syski then joined the Polish Second Corps, operating in Italy under British command. While there, he began his mathematic studies.

He moved with the corps to London, where he continued studying after leaving the military. He graduated from Polish University College, an organization set up in London to enable young Poles whose studies had been interrupted by World War II to finish college and return to help rebuild Poland.

In 1952, Mr. Syski joined a laboratory at the Automatic Telephone and Electric Company in London, which dealt with probabilistic aspects of telephone traffic. He earned a doctorate in mathematics from the University of London in 1960.

Mr. Syski came to the United States in 1960 and joined the University of Maryland. He published three books and more than 150 refereed articles on teletraffic, queuing and stochastic processes.

In 1973, Mr. Syski was elected a fellow of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics.

Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Barbara Syska of Silver Spring; six children, Marek Syski of Sterling, Witold Syski of Baltimore, M. Bozena Syska of Patchogue, N.Y., Leszek Syski of Brookville, B. Antoni Syski of Silver Spring and Mieszko Syski of Warsaw; two sisters; 20 grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.

-- Patricia Sullivan

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