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Mike Albertson Herbert Wilf

Summary: Mike Albertson
Herbert Wilf
October 23, 2009
Michael Albertson was my graduate student in the late 1960's to 1971, and received his PhD
in that year. In what was at the time the principal graduate course in combinatorics and graph
theory, I recall that the subject was very new, and I was lecturing out of a huge set of notes that
I had typed (on a typewriter!), and I remember that Mike Albertson was in his element. He loved
that material, and was enthusiastic about finding new results in the area.
I'm fond of telling people that at a fine university, like the University of Pennsylvania, the
students have been screened and filtered and selected so thoroughly that the classes are filled with
uniformly brilliant students. Their DNA is premium quality. So the differences between students
as regards their achievement do not stem from issues of intrinsic intelligence. The secret ingredients
of success are caring and enthusiasm. In those two departments Mike Albertson was abundantly
As a graduate student and throughout his too-short career he loved to pose new problems,
usually in graph theory, and he loved to work on existing problem areas, but in both cases the
operative word is loved. It made him happy. It made his day. The skies brightened, for him, when
he found something new and intriguing, and when his sky brightened he brightened the days of
others as well. It was contagious.
Students, of course, recognize these qualities in their teachers. Indeed, caring and enthusiasm


Source: Albertson, Michael O. - Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Smith College


Collections: Mathematics