Memories of Karl Menger
BS EE 1947, MS Mathematics 1948, PhD Mechanical Engineering 1952
Many years ago just after IIT had adopted its student "Honor System," we had this final exam with Professor Menger. He started the proceedings, telling us in his wonderful Austrian accent that he had been unable to decide between giving our class a written or an oral examination. Everyone understood that it didn't really matter because Prof. Menger knew all his students well enough to know what they understood and what they didn't.
"Noja, vel, goot, now," he began. "Ve vill have to have a vote. All in favor" etc. ("Noja" is a German expression which might translate into something like "let's see now." To that famous expression was then added an English "Well, good. Now" In other words, we were ready to get started.) Unfortunately, the vote came out exactly 50-50 between written and oral. The answer was of course "Vel, ve have to have two examinations. Will all the written exam people please go to the next room." Me, I loved having conversations with Menger, so had I picked oral.
As therefore half the class was sitting there discussing the intricacies of the calculus of variations with Prof. Menger, the noise level from the conversations next door became more and more perceptible.
Professor Menger's only reaction? "Vel they must have switched to oral also! Vould one of you please go next door and tell them to be more quiet."