|From a 1994 Dagstuhl Workshop. Selman is the one wearing a cap.|
Selman was a good colleague and a friend. I hosted his sabbatical at the University of Chicago in 1998 which produced a paper with Selman's student and my later postdoc Pavan Aduri. In Spring of 1999 Selman ran a NSF workshop in Chicago on Challenges for Theory of Computing.
In a desire to create a community of complexity theorists and foster publications of their results, Selman led the efforts to establish the Structure in Complexity Theory conference, first held in 1986 in Berkeley, California. As a student in Berkeley I attended that meeting and the next twenty-five. The conference would join the IEEE in 1987, in 1996 renamed the IEEE Conference and Computational Complexity and in 2015 drop from the IEEE to become the Computational Complexity Conference, still going strong. Alan served as the first conference chair and as PC co-chair of the first meeting.
For all his service for the field, Selman received the ACM SIGACT Distinguished Service Award in 2002.
Selman joined University at Buffalo in 1990 to serve six years as department chair and then as a professor until he retired in 2014. Lane Hemaspaandra wrote a highly recommended appreciation for Selman and his research in honor of his retirement where he mentions some of Selman's research programs, including his seminal work on P-Selective sets, non-deterministic functions and his work with Joachim Grollman on one-way functions. Selman came down hard on anyone who got the wrong number of l's in Grollman, so we would often joking cite it as Grollman and Sellman or just Grollman et Al.
In my favorite Selman paper, in work with Hemaspaandra, Ashish Naik and Mitsu Ogihara, looks at witness reduction. If there is a set A in P such that for all satisfiable formula φ there is a unique satisfying assignment a of φ such that (φ,a) is in A then the polynomial-time hierarchy collapses. The more general question of whether NP=UP implies the polynomial-time hierarchy collapses remains open.
Also Selman's paper with Steve Homer giving an oracle where Σ2P-complete sets were isomorphic was instrumental to my own work on the isomorphism conjecture.
Bill wanted me to mention the Selman paper that most influenced him. Selman and Theodore Baker and gave the first oracle separating the second level of the polynomial-time hierarchy in 1979. It would take Yao and Håstad over five more years to get the whole hierarchy infinite relative to an oracle. The Baker-Selman proof could easily extend to show that AM games did not sit in Σ2P, a bit surprising as MA is in Σ2P.
It would be no exaggeration to say the field of computational complexity and my own research within it would have been much different without Alan.
Alan drove a car with a "P NE NP" license plate. One day someone came up to him in a parking lot and said "Yes, but can you prove it?" Possibly the one thing in complexity he couldn't do.