Honorary Fellow Marshall Hall

The letter of invitation to Marshall did not reach him before his death, so he was unaware of the nomination. 

His memorial appeared in BICA (1) 1991

The Marshall Hall 80th Birthday Conference

This conference was held at the University of Vermont from September 13-19. Originally intended as a birthday tribute to one of the greatest of contemporary combinatorialists, the conference became a memorial conference after Marshall died in England on July 4.

Marshall Hall Jr. was born on September 17, 1910 in St. Louis, Missouri. He completed his B.A. in 1932 at Yale University and won a Henry Fellowship which enabled him to spend a year at Trinity College, Cambridge working with P. Hall, H. Davenport and G. H. Hardy. This was the beginning of his lifelong association with Cambridge and Oxford, two universities he often spoke of with affection and which he would happily visit many times. In 1936 he completed his Ph.D. at Yale, writing on Linear Recurring Sequences under the supervision of Oystein Ore. He spent a year as a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study before returning to Yale as an Instructor (1937--42). At the onset of
World War II Marshall joined the research division of Naval Intelligence where he obtained significant results deciphering both the Japanese codes and the German Enigma messages. This service included 6 months at the British Headquarters in Bletchley working with Alan Turing and Henry Whitehead. Their collective efforts were instrumental in turning the tide of the war. After the war he returned to Yale where his research culminated in the seminal paper Projective Planes, one of the most cited publications in all of mathematics. In 1946 Marshall went to Ohio State University as an Associate Professor and became a Full Professor there in 1948. Throughout his years at Ohio State he was active in both design theory and group theory, publishing such works as Cyclic projective planes (where the notion of the multiplier of a difference set is introduced), Solution of the Burnside Problem for exponent 6 (proving that a finitely generated group of exponent 6 is finite), On a Theorem of Jordan (classifying certain quadruply transitive permutation groups), and his book The Theory of Groups, which is a classic text in the field. From 1959 to 1981 Marshall was a Professor at The California Institute of Technology, holding the position of Executive Officer of the Mathematics Department from 1966 to 1969 and IBM Professor from 1973 to 198 I. He continued his groundbreaking and prolific research with such papers as Automorphisms of Steiner Triple Systems (which lead to what are now called Hall triple systems), and The simple group of order 604,900 (he proved existence of this, one of the first of the modern day sporadic groups --now called the Hall-Janko group). His book Combinatorial Theory appeared during this  time, and became the most highly regarded and frequently cited texts in this area.  Marshall laid foundations for a general theory of codes and designs in the paper Codes and designs, which also includes a construction of a (41,16,6) symmetric design with collineation of order 15.  As this work illustrates, Marshall's mathematical legacy, which includes over 120 research papers, epitomizes the way the cross-fertilization of ideas and techniques from design theory, coding theory and group theory leads to fruitful results in each of these fields. After retiring from Caltech, Marshall went to Emory University, first as the Robert Woodruff Visiting Professor (1982), then as a Visiting  Distinguished Professor (1985--90), with a sojourn at UCSB from 1984 to 1985. Marshall passed away suddenly in London on July 4 1990; he would have been 80 on September 17, the Monday of the Conference. He was very much looking forward to coming to his conference.

Throughout his lifetime Marshall received many honors. He was twice a Guggenheim Fellow, a recipient of Yale University's Wilbur Cross Medal, a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a recipient of honorary doctorates from both Emory and Ohio State. He was colleague and men tor to generations of coding theorists, design theorists and group theorists. His research, his texts, his teaching, his collaborations and his friendship have had a profound effect on all of us here. We are especially fortunate to have Marshall's son, Jonathan, as one of our keynote speakers; Marshall was particularly proud of Jon's accomplishments and his attainment of the rank of Full Professor at Michigan State University.

by Richard Foote. This note is not meant as a full-fledged biography; it only touches on a few of Marshall's immense number of achievements. An entire volume would be needed to give a detailed
account of the vast numbers of important results due to Marshall in Group Theory, Design Theory, and Coding Theory. The combinatorial community, with his passing, has lost a veritable giant. We reproduce a picture of Marshall taken at the Southeastern conference in Baton Rouge in 1988 (photo taken by E.A. Ruet d'Auteuil).


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