It was in 1981, during a short visit from 1 were truly fundamental for my understanding of the theory, for helping me to learn about the main problems, and especially for most of the examples that motivated our research group, including the development of ideas in metastability, for which we used the contact process as a basic example. I well remember writing to Tom about one or another point in the book (also in the second volume) which did not seem so clear to me, and receiving his kind answer by email.to the Instituto de Matemática Pura e Aplicada (IMPA) in Rio de Janeiro that I was first exposed to Tom Liggett’s work. Enrique and I had both finished the Ph.D. more or less at the same time, he with Tom at UCLA and I at Berkeley, with , and we had just started working in Brazil. The subject of Tom’s research was totally new and very exciting to me. It became clear that I should learn more, and try to work more closely with the local team in interacting particle systems (concentrated in São Paulo at that time). I could not travel much during that period, and so was unable to attend several conferences. Tom’s papers and the masterpiece Interacting Particle Systems
In 1997, Tom visited Rio de Janeiro, as plenary speaker of the Brazilian Colloquium in Mathematics held at IMPA. I think he liked it, as three years later he returned for the fourth edition of the Brazilian School of Probability, which took place in a relaxed ambience, next to the beach in Mambucaba. That school was truly fantastic; I still remember Tom’s lecture on the role of conditioning and coupling in interacting particle systems.
I was given the marvelous opportunity in 2009 to participate in the celebration of Tom’s 65th birthday in Beijing. It was an extremely happy occasion; we all celebrated that birthday with Tom and Chris in a wonderful atmosphere, with delicious food, the adventure of a walk on the Great Wall for all the brave participants (Tom included), all this merged with days of intense and exciting talks. It is an event that occupies a great place in my memory.
The next occasion for me to meet Tom was the celebration of his 75th birthday in a very beautiful and warm event at UCLA, in March 2009. His health did not allow him to actually come to the meeting, but we could celebrate his achievements.
Beyond his remarkable work in probability, Tom was a great mentor for many probabilists of at least two or three generations. I was extremely lucky to have met him.
Maria Eulalia Vares is a professor at the Instituto de Matemática, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro.