This is an ultra-soft question about relatively recent history. While reading some of Mandelstam's papers, I noticed that he cites David John Candlin consistenly whenever he does anything with Grassman path-integral. Everyone else cites Berezin.

So I read Candlin's 1956 paper, and I was stunned to find a complete and correct description of anticommuting variables, presented more lucidly than anywhere else, with a clear definition of Grassman integration, and a proof that it reproduces the Fermionic quantum field. This is clearly the original source of all the Grassman methods. I was stunned that the inventor of this method is quietly buried away.

I wrote the Wikipedia page on the guy, but I couldn't find out anything beyond the sketchy stuff I found on an old Princeton staff listing. The fellow doesn't google very well at all.

Here are the questions:

  • Is he still alive? (Hello? Are you there?)
  • Did he become the experimental physicist David John Candlin in the late 1970s/early 1980s? Or is this someone else with the same name?
  • Did he get any credit for his discovery?

I mean, this is one of the central tools of modern physics, it is used every day by every theorist, and the inventor is never mentioned. It's 50% of the path integral. Why the silence?

  • $\begingroup$ This question's assertion about the Wikipedia page is rather puzzling. The edit history of the linked article shows no activity on 2012, at which point it was already substantially in its current form, and no apparent activity by OP. $\endgroup$ Commented Oct 4, 2018 at 17:10
  • $\begingroup$ @EmilioPisanty Not really. The page was originally created in 2008, by a user who seems enough like Ron that I'm inclined to believe his claim that they are the same person. $\endgroup$
    – Chris
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 19:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Chris Goodness, you're right. I hadn't looked at that profile page. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 20:28
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ He departed in 2019. RIP. // Thanks for sharing this, Ron. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8 at 2:01

1 Answer 1


I googled a little bit a while ago, and found him. I didn't get any insights into the history of this discovery, he didn't respond to my email. The person I contacted in order to reach him was eventually so offended by my rude email questions that he told me to buzz off. I am only posting this because the guy obviously wants his privacy, and one should respect this. I saw the bounty, and thought people are going to pester this guy in retirement.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your journey through Mandelstam’s work and follow up on references to Candlin’s work is admirable. I would preferred to have learned this way rather than reading results in textbooks. $\endgroup$
    – Vince
    Commented Sep 30, 2018 at 22:40

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