• Oct 31, 1935
    (b.) - ?


A mathematician credited by the American Mathematical Society as being "one of the principal architects of the rapid development worldwide of discrete mathematics in recent years". He has done important work in computational geometry, Ramsey theory, quasi-randomness and scheduling theory. In computing, scheduling is the method by which threads, processes or data flows are given access to system resources (e.g. processor time, communications bandwidth). This is usually done to load balance and share system resources effectively or achieve a target quality of service. The need for a scheduling algorithm arises from the requirement for most modern systems to perform multitasking (executing more than one process at a time) and multiplexing (transmit multiple data streams simultaneously across a single physical channel). He is currently the Chief Scientist at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (also known as Cal-(IT)2), a $400 million academic research institution jointly run by the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Since 2008, Calit2 has implemented its strategic plan, Path Forward. The plan is based on the four core enabling technologies of wireless telecommunications, phototonics, nanotechnology and micro-electro-mechanicals systems (MEMS), and cyber space in order to digitally transform applications in culture, health, energy, and the environment.[3] Partnering with companies such as Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Hitachi, and Google Earth, Calit2 has collaborated with more than 250 industry names on sponsored research, technology licensing, and spinoffs based on Calit2 inventions. He is also the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Born in Taft, California, his home life was such that he never spent more than a year of his childhood in the same school. He didn’t fit in at the schools he attended and didn’t finish high school. His love of mathematics; however kept him from becoming a “statistic”, taking a different path. Instead he became one of the world’s leading mathematicians. He received a Ford Foundation scholarship which enabled him to enroll in the University of Chicago at the age of 15. He was in the United States Air Force from 1955 to 1959, during which time he received his B.S. degree in Physics from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks in 1958. He then earned his M.A. degree in Mathematics from the University of California at Berkeley in 1961; and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from University of California at Berkeley in 1962. His 1977 paper considered a problem in Ramsey theory, and gave a "large number" as an upper bound for its solution. This number has since become well known as the largest number ever used in a mathematical proof (was listed as such in the Guinness Book of Records), and is now known as Graham's number, although it has since then been surpassed by even larger numbers such as TREE(3). He joined AT&T Bell Labs in New Jersey where he spent the next 37 years tackling the formidable math problems that come with the territory of routing millions of calls and connections each day. His work at Bell Labs gave rise to worst-case analysis theory in scheduling, and helped lay the groundwork for the now-popular field of computational geometry. It also ignited interest in an obscure branch of discrete mathematics called Ramsey theory, which deals with the underlying order in apparently disordered situations. The American Mathematical Society awarded him the Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement in 2003 for his contributions to these fields. The prize was awarded on January 16 that year, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, Maryland. He popularized the concept of the Erdős number, named after the highly prolific Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdős (1913–1996). A scientist's Erdős number is the minimum number of coauthored publications away from a publication with Erdős. His Erdős number is 1. He co-authored almost 30 papers with Erdős, and was also a good friend. Erdős often stayed with him, and allowed him to look after his mathematical papers and even his income. He and Erdős visited the young mathematician Jon Folkman when he was hospitalized with brain cancer. Between 1993 and 1994 he served as the President of the American Mathematical Society. He was also featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not for being not only "one of the world's foremost mathematicians", but also "a highly skilled trampolinist and juggler", and past President of the International Jugglers' Association. He has published about 320 papers and five books, including, with Donald Knuth and Oren Patashnik, “Concrete Mathematics: A Foundation for Computer Science”, Addison-Wesley, 1989, 1994. He is married to Fan Chung Graham (known professionally as Fan Chung), who is the Akamai Professor in Internet Mathematics at the University of California, San Diego. He has four children; daughters Ché, Laura and Christy, and a son Marc from an earlier marriage. In addition to being awarded the Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement, in 1999 he was inducted as a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery. He has won many other prizes over the years: he was one of the laureates of the prestigious Pólya Prize the first year it was ever awarded, and among the first to win the Euler Medal. The Mathematical Association of America has also awarded him both the Lester R. Ford prize which was "...established in 1964 to recognize authors of articles of expository excellence published in The American Mathematical Monthly...", and the Carl Allendoerfer prize which was established in 1976 for the same reasons; however for a different magazine, the Mathematics Magazine. In 2012 he became a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. Other works he has authored or co-authored are: with Paul Erdős, “Old And New Results In Combinatorial Number Theory”, L’Enseignement Mathématique, 1980; with Fan Chung: “Erdős on Graphs. His legacy of unsolved problems”, A. K. Peters, 1998; with Jaroslav Nesetril (ed.), “The mathematics of Paul Erdős, 2 vols. Springer, 1997; “Rudiments of Ramsey Theory”, American Mathematical Society, 1981; with Joel H. Spencer & Bruce L. Rothschild, “Ramsey Theory”, Wiley, 1980, 1990; with Martin Grötschel & László Lovász (ed.), “Handbook of Combinatorics”, MIT Press, 1995; and with Persi Diaconis, “Magical Mathematics: the mathematical ideas that animate great magic tricks”, Princeton University Press, 2011 (won the Euler Book Prize).
  • Date of Birth:

    Oct 31, 1935
  • Noted For:

    Principal architect of the rapid development worldwide of discrete mathematics, including important work in scheduling theory
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