Alexander Razborov receives 2013 Robbins Prize from American Mathematical Society

The American Mathematical Society awarded the 2013 David P. Robbins Prize to the University of Chicago’s Alexander Razborov on Thursday, Jan. 10, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego. The Robbins Prize is given every three years for a paper that reports novel research in algebra, combinatorics, or discrete mathematics.

Razborov, the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor in Computer Science at the UChicago, also holds part-time appointments at the Steklov Mathematical Institute in Moscow and the Toyota Technological Institute at UChicago.

Razborov was honored for his paper “On the minimal density of triangles in graphs,” published in 2008 in Combinatorics, Probability and Computing, and for introducing a powerful new method, flag algebras, to solve problems in extremal combinatorics.

“The paper of Razborov not only settled a long-standing open problem, much more importantly it introduced a new method, called flag algebra calculus, for attacking a large class of extremal questions,” noted the prize citation. This method already has had a significant impact, enabling the use of computers to find solutions, with rigorous proofs, to problems in extremal combinatorics.

Razborov has devoted his professional career to work at the boundary between computer science and mathematics. “I genuinely believe that certain amusing cultural differences between the two communities look really insignificant when compared to the amount of inspiration and fresh and novel ideas their interaction brings to both disciplines,” he said. “In a sense, the work I am being awarded for is a quintessence of this philosophy.”

The 30,000-member American Mathematical Society was founded in 1888 to further mathematical research and scholarship.