My first contact with Tom was not with him but, like many, with his first book. I was in my third year as a Ph.D. student at Stanford in 1985, planning to work with 1 and to try to look at these systems from an ergodic theoretic point of view. That was my thesis. If it were not for Tom’s book, my thesis would have been quite different.but I told him that I was most interested in probability theory. Ornstein suggested to me to look at this book “that had just come out on interacting particle systems”
I then met Tom for the first time in 1988, just when I was graduating, at a conference at Cornell thatwas organizing. He was very friendly to me, asking me what I had been working on, and it was a pleasure to talk with him.
After that, for many years, I regularly sent Tom many varied questions on interacting particle systems. Probably too many. He was always willing to respond to all of them and was always very helpful.
In 2004, Tom participated in a conference in Gothenburg at which point our discussions led to two papers, one together with 2.
It was through these interactions that I experienced firsthand Tom’s powerful analytic abilities. It was a great experience for me to work with him.
I had the pleasure in 2009 to participate in a conference in Tom’s honor in Beijing where we celebrated him and his achievements, and where I was able to meet his wife Chris.
Tom’s influence on probability and in particular interacting particle systems is obvious. I myself feel privileged to have had an opportunity to work with him.
Jeff Steif is a professor on the Mathematical Sciences faculty at Chalmers University of Technology in Götegurg, Sweden.