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Embargoed For Release At 4:30 p.m. ET (1:30 p.m. PT) On January 16, 2003

Media Contacts:
UCSD: Doug Ramsey , (858) 822-5825
AMS: Michael Breen or Annette Emerson, paoffice@ams.org (401) 455-4000

UCSD Computer Scientist Wins Prestigious Mathematics Prize

San Diego, CA and Baltimore, MD, Jan. 16, 2003 -- University of California, San Diego (UCSD) professor Ronald Graham today received the 2003 Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Presented annually by the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the prize is one of the highest distinctions in mathematics. Graham, the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Professor in the Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) Department of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering, accepted the prize at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, Maryland. “I feel that I have been very lucky to have been at the right place and time in history for participating in the rapid and exciting current developments in combinatorics,” said Graham, referring to the field of mathematics concerned with problems of selection, arrangements, and interactions within a finite or discrete system, part of a branch of mathematics known as discrete mathematics. “It is a great honor and pleasure for me to receive this award in recognition of a life in mathematics, and I would like to express my deep appreciation to the AMS and to the Steele Prize Committee for their selection.”

Graham was honored for his role as one of the principal architects of the rapid worldwide development of discrete mathematics, as well as for shaping “the positive public image of mathematical research in the United States.” “I cannot remember a time when I didn't love doing mathematics, and that desire has not dimmed over the years,” said Graham, who is also Chief Scientist of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology [Cal-(IT)²], a collaboration of UCSD and UC Irvine. “Many people do not realize the crucial role that mathematics and algorithms play in almost all aspects of [Cal-(IT)²]'s activities. However, I also get great pleasure sharing mathematical discoveries and insights with others, even though this can present a special challenge for mathematicians talking to non-mathematicians. However, I really believe that this type of communication will become increasingly important in the future.”

According to the full AMS citation, Graham “has made many important research contributions to [discrete mathematics], including the development, with [wife and Math/CSE professor] Fan Chung Graham, of the theory of quasirandom combinatorial and graphical families, Ramsey theory, the theory of packing and covering, etc., as well as to the theory of numbers, and seminal contributions to approximation algorithms and computational geometry (the "Graham scan").” Graham served as President of the AMS in 1993-94.

AMS Prizes

Graham Profile

Jacobs School

Computer Science & Engineering Dept.

Graham was awarded a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1962. He spent 37 years at Bell Labs, eventually as Chief Scientist, and built it into a world-class center for research in discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science. He left from what is now AT&T Labs in 1999, to become the Irwin and Joan Jacobs Chair of Computer and Information Science at UCSD. He is also a former Chair of the CSE department. “We are delighted that the AMS has seen fit to honor our colleague Ron Graham with this award,” said Mohan Paturi, current CSE Chair. “Through his talks and publications and dynamic presence both in and out of the classroom, he has inspired young people to enter theoretical computer science as well as discrete mathematics.”

Herbert S. Wilf, Chair of the AMS Steele Prize Committee this year, concurs. “Ron Graham is a strong voice in promoting mathematics in general, and discrete mathematics in particular, to mathematical audiences, and he is personally the reason for the choices that many young mathematicians have made to devote themselves to those areas of mathematics,” says Wilf, the Thomas A. Scott Professor of Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania. “And in addition to his mathematical interests, he is an outstanding athlete, with major talents in juggling, trampoline, table tennis, and the like.”

Founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship, the 30,000-member American Mathematical Society fulfills its mission through programs and services that promote mathematical research and its uses, strengthen mathematical education, and foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics and its connections to other disciplines and to everyday life.

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