Richard P. Stanley, an emeritus professor of mathematics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will receive the 2022 AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement. Stanley has revolutionized enumerative combinatorics, revealing deep connections with other branches of mathematics, such as commutative algebra, topology, algebraic geometry, probability, convex geometry, and representation theory. In doing so, he solved important longstanding combinatorial problems, often reinvigorating these other fields with new combinatorial methods. Through his outstanding research; excellent expository works; and many PhD students, collaborators and colleagues, he continues to influence the field of combinatorics worldwide.
Response of Richard P. Stanley
It is a wonderful honor to receive the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement. When I started working in enumerative and algebraic combinatorics around 1967, I was greatly attracted to the vision of my thesis adviser Gian-Carlo Rota (recipient of a 1988 Steele Prize), who saw glimmerings of deep connections between combinatorics and other branches of mathematics. In graduate school, I became interested in partially ordered sets and symmetric functions. They fortunately turned out to be extremely fecund concepts which continue to fascinate me. I have described elsewhere how the problem raised by MacMahon of enumerating solid (3-dimensional) partitions eventually led me to find connections with convex polytopes, commutative algebra, and algebraic geometry, leading to the solution of a number of problems, such as the Upper Bound Conjecture for Spheres and the g-conjecture for simplicial polytopes, having nothing to do with solid partitions. It is interesting how the path to successful research can be so circuitous.
Throughout my career it has been gratifying to see many highly talented aspiring mathematicians decide to work in algebraic and enumerative combinatorics. Thanks to their efforts, the field has become vastly more sophisticated and intertwined with other areas than when I began my own research. This Steele Prize should be regarded not only as an individual honor, but also as a testament to the efforts of these other researchers who have raised algebraic and enumerative combinatorics to its present lofty level. I should also express my gratitude to the MIT Department of Mathematics for providing a stimulating and nurturing environment for learning, discovering, and teaching mathematics.
Biographical Sketch of Richard P. Stanley
Richard P. Stanley attended the California Institute of Technology as an undergraduate and received his PhD from Harvard University in 1971. He originally planned to work in algebra or number theory, but under the spell of Gian-Carlo Rota, he switched his main research interest to combinatorics. After postdocs at MIT and UC Berkeley, Stanley returned in 1973 to MIT, where he remained until retiring in 2018. He continues as an Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor at the University of Miami during spring semesters. He especially likes connections between combinatorics and other branches of mathematics.
Stanley is a member of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences and a Fellow of the AMS. He was a plenary speaker at the ICM in 2006 and gave the AMS Colloquium Lectures in 2010. He received the SIAM George Pólya Prize in Combinatorics in 1975, the Steele Prize for Mathematical Exposition in 2001, and the Rolf Schock Prize in Mathematics in 2003. Sixty students received their PhDs under his supervision. In addition to these mathematical progeny, he has two biological children and two grandchildren.
About the Award
Presented annually, the AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement is awarded for the cumulative influence of the total mathematical work of the recipient, high level of research over a period of time, particular influence on the development of a field, and influence on mathematics through PhD students. The Steele Prizes were established in 1970 in honor of George David Birkhoff, William Fogg Osgood, and William Caspar Graustein, and are endowed under the terms of a bequest from Leroy P. Steele.
The 2022 prize will be presented Wednesday, January 5 during the Joint Prize Session at the 2022 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Seattle.
Contact: AMS Communications.