Béla Bollobás

The Fleming Lecture Speaker Series is co-sponsored by the Richard Fleming Endowed Speaker Award and the Mathematics Department. This year our speaker will be Dr. Béla Bollobás. He will present two lectures entitled: Bootstrap Percolation and Universality for Monotone Cellular Automata.

Bela BollobasDr. Bollobás is currently Professor; Chair of Excellence, at the University of Memphis. He is known for his work in combinatorics, particularly in graph theory. He is currently a Senior Research Fellow at Trinity College.

Dr. Béla Bollobás FRS is a Hungarian-born British mathematician who has worked in various areas of mathematics, including functional analysis, combinatorics, graph theory, and percolation. Paul Erdős has been his academic influence and inspiration ever since he was 14. As a student, he took part in the first three International Mathematical Olympiads, winning two gold medals. Paul Erdős invited Bollobás to a lunch after hearing about his accomplishments and they kept in touch since then. His first publication was a joint publication with Erdős on extremal problems in graph theory that was written when he was in high school in 1962.

With Erdős’s recommendation to Harold Davenport and Bollobás’ long campaigning to get permission from the Communist authorities, Bollobás was able to spend a year in Cambridge, England during his undergraduate studies. However, his return to Cambridge again to complete his Ph.D. upon an offer from the university was denied by the Communist authorities. A following scholarship offer from Paris was also rejected by the authorities. He wrote his first doctorate in discrete geometry under the supervision of László Fejes Tóth and Paul Erdős in Budapest University, 1967, after which he spent a year in Moscow with Israïl Moiseevich Gelfand. After spending a year at Christ Church, Oxford where Michael Atiyah held the Savilian Chair of Geometry, and vowing never to return to Hungary due to his disillusion with the 1956 Soviet intervention and subsequent puppet communist regime, he went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where in 1972 he received a second Ph.D. in functional analysis (on Banach algebras) under the supervision of Frank Adams. In 1970, he was awarded a fellowship to the college.

Bollobás’ awards and honors include:
  • External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences
  • The Senior Whitehead Prize by the London Mathematical Society, 2007
  • Fellow of the Royal Society, 2011
  • Fellow of the American Mathematical Society, 2012