by Anna Ylvisaker and
Tom Liggett entered our lives when he arrived at UCLA in 1969, the year after each of us had gotten there. At the time he fell naturally into a probability and statistics group in the Mathematics Department that consisted ofand , early members, together with , and . It was an active group — holding a joint seminar, deciding on the teaching of relevant classes and, importantly, eating an informal lunch together at the Student Union.
He was a student ofat Stanford so we were familiar with his background, but he soon exceeded any expectations one might have had on such a basis. I don’t know that he had ever taught before, but the organization and clarity he brought to his lectures was simply extraordinary, and at every level. His administrative skills would prove more than evident when he was called upon for such later in his career, and for the same reasons. His early research work was impressively broad and deep, though one could hardly have foreseen the immense influence he has had on his area of interest, as attested to in this volume.
Our wives, Chris and Anna, co-workers in the Mathematics Department, are the best of friends, and this double connection led to our considerable involvement with the Liggetts on a more personal level. We witnessed the births of their children, the deaths of their parents, and had regular get-togethers with their families on holidays and other occasions. We miss those things.
Let me close with one anecdote. Over dinner at our house one night, it came out that we’d acquired an old cat burdened with feline aids and without teeth. His name was Thomas, of course, and Milton because he was also nearly blind, hence Thomas Milton. Chris chimed in with “Do you know what Tom’s middle name is?”
We will miss Tom.
Anna Ylvisaker was an administrator (1968–2004) in the Department of Mathematics at UCLA. Don Ylvisaker is a professor emeritus of statistics there.