Terry Rockafellar's Retirement
This past Spring the Department held a dinner to mark the retirement of Terry Rockafellar. Terry has long been one of the shining stars of UW mathematics. He is both a world-class researcher and an outstanding mentor and teacher, and he continues to teach courses, advise graduate students, and do research. Terry received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Harvard University in 1963, and after spending two years at the University of Texas in Austin, he joined the University of Washington. His international reputation grew rapidly, and he was quickly recognized as a rising star in the fields of optimization, control, and convex analysis. In 1970 Princeton University Press published his landmark text Convex Analysis. It is difficult to overstate the impact that this book has had on the development of convex analysis and optimization theory and practice. It is by far the most-cited text in the subject.
During his career Terry has published nearly 200 research articles and 7 books and monographs. His research continues at breakneck speed with over 10 preprints from 2002-2003 awaiting publication. His most recent book Variational Analysis, co-authored with Roger Wets in 1997, was awarded the Lanchester Prize for the ``best contribution to operations research and the management sciences published in English.''
Terry's research contributions lie at the very foundation of optimization theory and nonsmooth analysis. Over the years he has received many of the top national and international prizes in optimization and operations research. In 1982 he was co-recipient with Michael Powell of the first Dantzig Prize from the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and the Mathematical Programming Society (MPS); this is recognized as the top international prize in mathematical programming. In 1992, Terry was named the John von Neumann Lecturer by SIAM; this is the top North American honor in applied mathematics. In 1999 he received the John von Neumann Theory Prize from the Institute for Operations Research and Management Science (INFORMS); this is the top theory prize offered by INFORMS. Each of these three prizes is reserved for those who have made deep and innovative contributions that have had a far-reaching and sustained impact over a period of many years.
Terry has also been awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Groningen (Netherlands), the University of Montpellier (France), the University of Chile, and the University of Alicante (Spain).
Among students Terry has always been known to be a superb lecturer. His classes are always full, and his students are engaged and enthusiastic. He has the most enviable ability to inspire in his students the excitement he feels for the subject at hand. During his time at the University he has supervised 21 Doctoral students and over 30 Masters students. He has also mentored numerous postdoctoral students who have come to Seattle to learn from and work with him.
This past Spring the West Coast Optimization Meeting was dedicated in honor of Professor Rockafellar's lifelong seminal contributions to the subject. Each of the invited speakers reminisced about the formative impact of Terry's research on their past and current research. The list of speakers included several of the most influential researchers in optimization and variational analysis: Asen Dontchev, Mirjam Duer, Ivar Ekeland, Boris Mordukhovich, Jong-Shi Pang, Lucien Polak, and Roger Wets.
It was a truly joyous and inspiring event, full of lively mathematical discussion, as well as personal recollections of intellectual and wilderness explorations with Terry. Many of those in attendance recalled the thrill of collaborating with Terry while kayaking, cross-country skiing, or trekking in the wilderness. Now that Terry is retired, these mathematical back-country trips are sure to occur with greater frequency. Something about intimately experiencing mountain passes and riptides must inspire deeper insight into minimax theory and nonsmooth analysis.
On the occasion of his retirement we take this opportunity to thank and honor our esteemed colleague, mentor, and friend for his inspiration, intellectual gifts, and many years of service to the University of Washington.
[Note from the editor: any donors wishing to commemorate Terry Rockafellar's retirement are encouraged to contribute to the Rockafellar Graduate Support Fund, a new fund which will be used to support graduate students in the math department. To do this, visit our web site and click on ``Giving to Math.'']