Ron Graham, mathematician, computer scientist, juggler and magician: 1935-2020

Jul 16, 2020
Ron Graham, mathematician, computer scientist, juggler and magician

San Diego, Calif., July 16, 2020 -- Ron Graham, a professor of computer science and mathematics at the University of California San Diego, perhaps best known for the discovery of Graham’s number, passed away July 6, 2020 at his home in La Jolla, from complications due to bronchiectasis, a chronic lung condition. He was 84. 

During a career that spanned six decades, Graham served as the president of both principal mathematical associations in the United States, and of the International Jugglers’ Association. He once said that he considered juggling a physical form of mathematics. He was also known for mathematics-based card tricks that he described in “Magical Mathematics,” a book he co-authored with Stanford mathematician and long-time collaborator Persi Diaconis. Graham was sometimes referred to as the “mathemagician.” 

“He was a true giant among researchers, but also one of the nicest human beings I have known,” said Larry Smarr, founding director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2) and the Harry E. Gruber Professor in Computer Science and Engineering at UC San Diego. “He was one of my most important mentors, particularly during the early days of bringing up Calit2. But Ron's diverse interests were as legendary as his deep role in mathematics.  That a mind of his caliber also focused on what the body could accomplish, in juggling, trampoline, and a wide array of exercise, was always a model for me.”

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