In Memoriam Ron Graham

Ronald Graham, his wife Fan Chung Graham and Paul Erdős in Japan 1986.
Ron Graham, 1935-2020 was one of the first recipients of the Euler medal in 1993.  At that time he was a University Professor of Mathematical Sciences at Rutgers University, Adjunct Director for Research at Information Sciences Division AT&T Bell Labs, and President of the American Mathematical Society.  He worked at Bell Laboratories until 1999, starting as director of information sciences and ending his tenure there as chief scientist. Graham then joined the faculty at the University of California, San Diego and later became chief scientist at the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, a joint operation between the university and the University of California, Irvine.  In 2003-2004, he served as President of the Mathematical Association of America.  

Graham was a frequent host and collaborator with Erdős, and in 1979, introduced the concept of the Erdős number.  He produced many valuable results, including the eponymous Graham's number.  Graham’s number was at the time the largest specific positive integer ever to have been used in a published mathematical proof, and was recorded as such in the Guinness Book of World Records in 1980. 

From Fan Chung's website (his wife and collaborator on over 90 papers): 

"July 5, 2020, the day before the last day.

It was a beautiful morning and the photo was the view of kayaks through the deck.

On that day, Ron talked over the phone with Steve Butler and Persi Diaconis about their work in progress concerning certain random walks on Zp. Ron pointed out that the behavior was very different for p  1 (mod 4) versus p  3 (mod 4) and he suggested various ways to get computational data.

Later in the day Ron exchanged email with Sam Spiro about their joint paper (with Persi and others on card guessing) which is near completion. He wrote email to Judith Ng including the photo of kayaks and a photo of his wife Fan in the kitchen looking back at him through the Google Nest Cam.

On the wall in Ron's office, he hung a poster of squares arranged in 90 lines each consisting of 52 little squares. Later on he modified it so it contains 100 lines. (He sometimes joked that his grandma lived to 99 and then hit by a truck.) The rule is to fill one square each week. Thus, one can see how many squares are left and how finite and precious life is. He only used 84 lines but every square was gloriously filled."


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