Person: Bollobás, Béla
Professor Bollobás is a Hungarian-born British mathematician who is one of the world's leaders in combinatorics.
Mathematical Profile (Excerpt):
- Béla was brought up in Budapest where he attended school.
- Bollobás entered the mathematical competitions which were part of the Hungarian school tradition and, when he was fourteen years old, he won a national competition.
- He was in Budapest for a couple of weeks when he heard that Bollobás had won the competition so he invited him to meet him at his hotel.
- They had lunch together and from that time on Erdős kept in touch with Bollobás, usually by letter but also seeing each other at times when Erdős was in Budapest.
- Much of Bollobás's early mathematical work was strongly influenced by Erdős and in fact his first paper Extremal problems in graph theory (Hungarian), written while still at high school, was a joint publication with Erdős appearing in 1962.
- Bollobás attended Budapest University where he joined the research group headed by László Fejes Tóth who worked on discrete geometry.
- However, Bollobás considers Erdős to be his real advisor while he was undertaking research for his doctorate for it was Erdős who kept in contact suggesting problems for him to look at.
- For example Bollobás published On graphs without two independent circuits (Hungarian) in 1963 which solves a special case of a problem posed by Erdős while On generalized graphs (1965) generalises a result by Erdős, Hajnal and Moon.
- Since travelling to different countries was difficult for Hungarians during these years of Communist control, Bollobás always felt claustrophobic and wanted to travel.
- Bollobás spent a year in Cambridge and, soon after returning to Hungary, received the offer of a scholarship from Cambridge to complete his Ph.D. there.
- Travel to Russia was more acceptable to the Hungarian authorities so, after completing his doctorate in Budapest, Bollobás spent a highly productive year in Moscow working with Israil Moiseevic Gelfand.
- While in Moscow, Gelfand suggested that Bollobás should try to visit Michael Atiyah or Frank Adams in England.
- Let us say a little at this point about Gabriella Bollobás.
- The fellowship from Trinity College mentioned in the above quote was awarded to Bollobás in 1970 and, although Frank Adams became his official thesis supervisor, he found the problems from the Functional Analysis Seminar.
- The second area of graph theory which particularly interested Bollobás was random graph theory.
- This topic, initiated by Erdős and Rényi around 1960, began to attract world-wide attention by the early 1970s and Bollobás's interest was fired during a term that Erdős spent working with him in Cambridge on the topic.
- The monograph that Bollobás wrote entitled Random graphs was published in 1985.
- But Bollobás was interested in graph theory not only as a research topic but also as an area which should be taught in undergraduate courses.
- The output of high quality publications from Bollobás is remarkable.
- As of early 2011, MathSciNet lists 433 publications by Bollobás written with 141 co-authors.
- However, Bollobás kept his connections with Cambridge.
- Bollobás has written a fine book.
- In 1998 Bollobás published Modern graph theory.
- Bollobás's two most recent books, both published in 2006, are (with Oliver Riordan) Percolation, and the single-authored work The art of mathematics.
Born 3 August 1943, Budapest, Hungary.
View full biography at MacTutor
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Adapted from other CC BY-SA 4.0 Sources:
- O’Connor, John J; Robertson, Edmund F: MacTutor History of Mathematics Archive