Remembering Ron Graham

It is with great sadness that G4G notes the death of Ron Graham (October 31, 1935 – July 6, 2020). 

We have collected here some recollections from various members of the G4G community. If you have any references, memories, or tributes that you would like to share, please email us at support@g4gfoundation.org.

“Ron Graham, who has died aged 84, was one of the most productive American mathematicians of the past half century. Working in both applied and pure mathematics, often on the underpinnings of theoretical computer science and telecommunications, he spent two-thirds of his long career in industry, at Bell Labs in New Jersey, while the rest was at the University of California in San Diego.”

[Excerpt, read the Full Obituary here]

Colm Mulcahy 

 

Ron is the reason I got involved with G4G. Many years ago, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, he said to me “Hey, there’s a meeting in Atlanta this year you should go to,” and I went; it was G4G2.

Also, Ron once gave me a paper off his desk, saying he thought I’d enjoy it. It was a now-classic paper by Conway and Lagarias. I spent the next ten years growing a career in the theory of tilings from that one seed.

James Propp

I met him via email in 2007, when he generously shared his postscript code for creating Apollonian packings for my use in a poster. It was a highlight of the meeting for me whenever Ron would stop by my booth at the Joint Mathematics Meetings to discuss topics like non-transitive dice or Rubik’s cubes.

I was saddened to hear of the passing of Ron Graham, a highly-accomplished mathematician, juggler and more; a soft-spoken man who loved to help others learn and grow. Watch this short biopic entitled “Something New Every Day” to learn more about his life.

Robert Fathauer

I was saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and colleague, Ron Graham. A few years ago I wrote up the story of how I not only met, but became first colleagues, then friends [see below]. He was absolutely lovely. Phenomenal mathematician, wonderful juggler, and a lovely person to be around.

We didn’t meet often, but I’m sad to think I won’t see him again. I’ll miss him.

 

Colin Wright

A favorite memory: at the 2015 Centennial MAA MathFest, Ron (a former MAA President) showed me this 13×13 Rubik’s cube that he “solved’’ in honor of MAA. Ron was always kind, encouraging of new people, full of humor & delight in math. A hero.‬

– Francis Su

He was, of course, a tremendous mathematician. But he was also a tireless advocate for other mathematicians.

As Director of the Mathematics Center at Bell Labs, he was unusually successful at getting his employees featured in the NY Times science section. Of course, he was famous for his support of Paul Erdős, housing him when he was in New Jersey and keeping track of his finances, in addition to working with him.

Tom Duff

I learned last night that my PhD advisor, Ron Graham, has passed away. He was one of the most amazing people I have ever met. His extraordinary math abilities were surpassed by his kindness, generosity, and effervescence. I, and all those he impacted, will miss him dearly.

– Jay Cummings

Farewell to Ron Graham. What an inspiring mathematician. I fondly remember a MathFest where he provided tech support for my iPhone. To answer the question, he emptied his pockets of his MANY different cell phones and walked me step by step to fix my problem.

Jennifer Quin

Very sad news that mathematician Ron Graham has passed away. Graham’s Number was an early Numberphile hit, and he took the time to explain it himself. And his work extended far beyond one number.

Matt Parker

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