Saturday, March 28, 2020

Robin Thomas

Graph Theorist and Georgia Tech Math Professor Robin Thomas passed away Thursday after his long battle with ALS. He was one of the giants of the field and a rare double winner of the Fulkerson Prize, for the six-color case of the Hadwiger Conjecture and the proof of the strong perfect graph theorem.

If you start with a graph G and either delete some vertices or merge vertices connected by an edge, you get a minor of G. The Hadwiger conjecture asks whether every graph that is not (k+1)-colorable graph has a clique of size k as a minor. Neil Robertson, Paul Seymour and Thomas proved the k=6 case in 1993 and still the k>6 cases remain open.

A graph G is perfect if for G and all its induced subgraphs, the maximum clique size is equal to its chromatic number. In 2002 Maria Chudnovsky, Robertson, Seymour and Thomas showed that a graph G is not perfect if and only if either G or the complement of G has an induced odd cycle of length greater than 3.

Robin Thomas was already confined to a wheelchair when I arrived at Georgia Tech in 2012. He was incredibly inspiring as he continued to teach and lead the Algorithms, Combinatorics and Optimization PhD program until quite recently. Our department did the ALS challenge for him. In 2016 he received the Class of 1934 Distinguished Professor Award, the highest honor for a professor at Georgia Tech.  He'll be terribly missed.


  1. Really have huge respect of Robin Thomas for his research and his personality. Rest in peace.

  2. Although this was expected for some time, this is still a huge loss for the math and the Georgia Tech (especially ACO) community. RIP Robin, you have been an inspiration to many!

  3. RIP Robin Thomas.

    I know it may not a proper place and time to place a link for the new "proofs" of the four color theorem. But I know "4CT" was your favourite:

  4. RIP Robin Thomas

    Here is the link of a non-computer proofs of the 4CT.