In Memoriam: Robin Thomas

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In addition to his appointment in the School of Mathematics, Thomas was an adjunct faculty member in the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering (ISyE) and director of the interdisciplinary Algorithms, Combinatorics, and Optimization (ACO) program, sponsored by ISyE, the College of Computing, and the School of Mathematics.

“ACO is an outstanding program largely due to Robin’s contributions,” said Santanu Dey, A. Russell Chandler III Professor and associate chair of graduate studies in ISyE. “He cared deeply about the quality of the program. He is a role model for many of us both as researchers and as administrators. His passing is a huge loss.”

In addition to his significant impact on the ACO program, Thomas was also known as a great teacher who was devoted to his students’ success.

“One of the highlights of my time as an ISyE Ph.D. student was the opportunity to take courses from leaders in the field who were also excellent teachers, and Robin Thomas was certainly in that category,” said Leo and Louise Benatar Early Career Professor and ISyE Associate Professor Alejandro Toriello. “I had the great fortune of taking Robin's graduate graph theory course as a first-year Ph.D. student and later audited his advanced graph theory course as well. Robin was terrific in class and was very supportive of his students, myself included. It was thus also a great honor to have Robin himself invite me to join the ACO faculty when I returned to ISyE as a faculty member. I am extremely grateful for Robin's impact on my education and career, and I will remember him as an outstanding colleague and role model.”

Thomas worked closely with many faculty members in ISyE and was a great friend and colleague to many throughout the Institute.

“Robin Thomas was an inspiring colleague both for his mathematical work and his integrity,” added Santosh Vempala, adjunct professor in ISyE and Frederick G. Storey Chair and professor in the College of Computing. “He approached research and administrative duties in the same spirit — precise, careful, complete, and always with the highest standards. As a graph theorist, he is one of the all-time greats. As a person, he was straightforward, honest, reliable, and fearless. I feel very fortunate to have known him, interacted with him, and learned from him for the past 25 years.”

“He was amazing on a daily basis,” added Dey. “Even when he was unwell, he was on top of everything. He was truly a ‘superman’ and will be greatly missed.”

Our thoughts are with Robin’s wife, ISyE Professor Sigrun Andradottir, and the rest of his family during this difficult time. Read more about Robin’s many contributions to his field here.


  • Workflow Status: Published
  • Created By: Laurie Haigh
  • Created: 04/22/2020
  • Modified By: Scott Jacobson
  • Modified: 04/22/2020


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