Rudy Lee Horne: The Hidden Figure of Hidden Figures, 1968–2017.




Rudy Lee Horne was a man with an easy, memorable laugh and a gigantic personality. He devoted his life to advancing applied mathematics and the next generation of mathematicians, especially mathematicians from un- derrepresented groups. He was also a mathematician with the rare distinction of a Hollywood movie credit. Horne’s expert and affable work as the mathematics consultant on the Oscar-nominated film Hidden Figures helped make the possibilities and power of mathematics available to mil- lions of people across the globe. Hidden Figures recounts the previously unknown story of African American women and their critical contributions to the space program at NASA.

Horne’s work on Hidden Figures earned him the Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH (People United to Serve Hu- manity) Coalition “Excellence in Stem Education” Award in July 2017 and the National Association of Mathematicians Lifetime Achievement Award, conferred posthumously in January 2018. He is one of a handful of mathematicians with a listing on the Internet Movie Database. His movie work did not outdistance the importance of his day job at Morehouse College, however. As Talitha Washington, an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Howard University and a program officer at the National Science Foundation described it, “Rudy Lee Horne was a direct role model for African-American male students because they could see themselves as hardcore applied mathematicians and have fun while doing it.”

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