Celebratio Mathematica

Thomas Milton Liggett

A tribute to Thomas Liggett

by Shirin Handjani

Tom Lig­gett has had a sig­ni­fic­ant, pos­it­ive in­flu­ence on many people, and I am for­tu­nate to be one of them. I first met him when I was a gradu­ate stu­dent at UCLA, tak­ing his meas­ure-the­or­et­ic prob­ab­il­ity class. His present­a­tions were so in­ter­est­ing and clear that I be­came fas­cin­ated with the sub­ject. I stud­ied real ana­lys­is di­li­gently in pre­par­a­tion for work­ing with Tom, since I knew that was the basis for much of his re­search. When he was my thes­is ad­visor, I en­joyed the prob­lems he gave me. I be­came very fa­mil­i­ar with his book In­ter­act­ing Particle Sys­tems1 and have been in­ter­ested in the sub­ject ever since. The mod­els and tech­niques in that book have re­mained im­port­ant through the dec­ades.

I was for­tu­nate to stay in touch with Tom over the years. I have good memor­ies of math hikes with him, both as a grad stu­dent hik­ing the Santa Mon­ica Moun­tains and at a prob­ab­il­ity con­fer­ence go­ing up Pikes Peak. Tom had en­ergy and en­thu­si­asm for life and math. I saw him every year or two at the South­ern Cali­for­nia Prob­ab­il­ity Sym­posi­um. The last time was a couple of years ago, and I told him about a prob­lem that I found in­triguing. In his usu­al, help­ful way he began writ­ing sev­er­al re­lated ex­amples, and the next day he sent me an email with be­ne­fi­cial ref­er­ences. Many of us will miss Tom’s clear ex­plan­a­tions, thought­ful ideas, and en­thu­si­asm. He made pro­found con­tri­bu­tions to the field of prob­ab­il­ity and in­spired so many.

Shir­in Hand­jani was a stu­dent of Tom Lig­gett and gradu­ated from UCLA with a Ph.D. in 1993. She is cur­rently work­ing at the Cen­ter for Com­mu­nic­a­tions Re­search in La Jolla, CA.