It was my great privilege to claim Tom Liggett as my friend for the 55 years since we met in Kai Lai Chung’s real analysis class during Tom’s first year as a Ph.D. student at Stanford. And it was my good luck that Tom elected to join the UCLA faculty where the short distance between his office and mine made it easy to interact, chat, go to lunch, and get answers to my questions. Without Tom, my professional life would have been so much more difficult.
When asked a math question, Tom invariably not only supplied the answer but did so in an easy-to-follow manner. He was a wonderfully adept teacher even before his formal teaching at UCLA commenced. His teaching skills emanated from his interest in mathematics, his desire and willingness to offer help, his clarity of thought, and his amazing mathematical prowess. Almost always, he could answer my many questions on the spot, questions I had labored on for days or weeks. I never had a question he could not answer.
In 1969, we published our first joint paper entitled “Stochastic games with perfect information and time average payoff” in SIAM Review.1 The paper concerned a Tauberian theorem relating time average and discounted payoffs which had been incorrectly extended in the previous literature. Tom easily came up with the needed counterexample. Forty years later, we published our second joint paper. “The asymptotic Shapley value for a simple market game” appeared in Economic Theory in 2009.2 The first proof Tom came up with followed directly from his Ph.D. thesis, but the journal editor insisted that the proof not be based upon such a difficult-to-locate result on the Brownian bridge. Tom easily found a new proof that followed from well known principles.
In the many years that I knew Tom, he was invariably upbeat, cheerful, and happy to assist. Between the time he arrived as an assistant professor at UCLA and the time he married Chris, he would join us for dinner two or so times per month. He was always good company. After their marriage, we continued to dine and interact with Tom and Chris socially. In addition, Tom and I played handball weekly for a decade or more. Unbeknownst to most, Tom was a pretty good handball player.
Tom is missed greatly by all that knew him.
Steven Lippman is Distinguished Professor Emeritus (George Robbins Chair in Management) at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management.