Written: Dec. 4, 2008
One of the towering figures of "Combinatory Analysis", George Andrews, is turning 70 today. Many of his friends are gathering this weekend for a conference in his honor. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it, so I am not in the list of participants. A mutual friend asked me why I am not coming, and he conjectured that the reason is that I don't want to go to "enemy territory". I replied that with "enemies" like George, I don't need any friends. It is true that idealogically, he is my "enemy", being a firm believer in human supremacy (in spite of his ground-breaking use of computer algebra systems in combinatorics and number theory, he remains a reluctant revolutionary), and a stout and harsh critic of the Calculus Reform Movement. Also politically he is one of the few mathematicans that I know that are (openly!) Republican, and that often wear a tie.
But personally, George is one of the nicest and kindest persons that I know, in addition to being a great mathematician, and I respect his great integrity. The American Mathematical Society is lucky to have such a great president, who furthermore will be far from a figure-head, and will make sure that mathematics is promoted at all levels. He would also know how to pronounce the name Szemeredi correctly.
George, I wish I could be at your 70th birthday conference in person, but unfortunately, I couldn't make it. I promise to be there at every one of the (70+5k)-th birthday future conferences for 1 ≤ k ≤ 10 .
Happy Birthday, President George!