Home | People | Seminar | Working Group | Conferences | Resources


Speaker: Arthur Hobbs, (Texas A&M University)

Title: William T. Tutte, 1917--2002

Abstract: William T. Tutte's first mathematical research was completed while he was an undergraduate chemistry major at Cambridge. He and his colleagues, Brooks, Smith, and Stone, gave the first theory-driven solution to the problem of covering a square of integer side length with non-overlapping squares of all-different integer side lengths. Tutte spent the war years at Bletchley Park, where he almost single-handedly broke the German Army High Command code (not the Enigma code).
Tutte's 417 page thesis, written at Cambridge during the 3 years immediately following the war, solved the then most important problem in matroid theory - characterizing those matroids that can be derived from graphs - using exclusion of minors introduced by Wagner for graphs. In his thesis, he also introduced the polynomial now named after him. The Tutte polynomial subsumes the chromatic polynomial, the tree counting polynomial, and the flow polynomial, and it has applications in knot theory and elsewhere.
Tutte continued his career with further extraordinary results. He did foundational work in several branches of graph theory, including characterizing graphs with 1-factors, enumerating graphs, advancing the theory of chromatic polynomials, and characterizing classes of graphs with Hamiltonian cycles. Tutte was made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 1958, a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1987, and an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001.
In the March, 2004, issue of the AMS Notices, James Oxley (Louisiana State University) and the speaker, Arthur Hobbs (Texas A&M University), published an article on the life and work of William T. Tutte. In the present talk, Prof. Hobbs will give a more extended review of some of the more interesting aspects of Tutte's work and life.

Return to the seminar page.

Home | People | Seminar | Working Group | Conferences | Resources

Please send comments about this page to Robert Ellis at rellis@math.tamu.edu.