Endre Szemerédi

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Endre Szemerédi
Endre Szemerédi
Born (1940-08-21) August 21, 1940 (age 76)
Budapest, Hungary
Nationality Hungarian American
Fields Combinatorics
Computer science
Theoretical computer science
Institutions Rutgers University
Alma mater Moscow State University
Doctoral advisor Israel Gelfand
Doctoral students Jaikumar Radhakrishnan
Gabor Sarkozy
Notable awards Abel Prize (2012)
Rolf Schock Prizes (2008)
Leroy P. Steele Prize (2008)
Pólya Prize (1975)
Alfréd Rényi Prize (1973)
Member NAS

Endre Szemerédi (Hungarian: [ˈɛndrɛ ˈsɛmɛreːdi]; born August 21, 1940) is a Hungarian-American[1] mathematician, working in the field of combinatorics and theoretical computer science. He has been the State of New Jersey Professor of computer science at Rutgers University since 1986. He also holds a professor emeritus status at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.

Szemerédi has won prizes in mathematics and science, including the Abel Prize in 2012. He has made a number of discoveries in combinatorics and computer science, including Szemerédi's theorem, the Szemerédi regularity lemma, the Erdős–Szemerédi theorem, the Hajnal–Szemerédi theorem and the Szemerédi–Trotter theorem.

Early life

Szemerédi was born in Budapest. Since his parents wished him to become a doctor, Szemerédi enrolled at a college of medicine, but he dropped out after six months (in an interview[2] he explained it: "I was not sure I could do work bearing such responsibility.").[3][4][5] He studied in Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and received his PhD from Moscow State University. His adviser was Israel Gelfand.[6] This stemmed from a misspelling, as Szemerédi originally wanted to study with Alexander Gelfond.[3]

Academic career

Szemerédi has been the State of New Jersey Professor of computer science at Rutgers University since 1986. He has held visiting positions at Stanford University (1974), McGill University (1980), the University of South Carolina (1981–1983) and the University of Chicago (1985–1986).


Endre Szemerédi has published over 200 scientific articles in the fields of discrete mathematics, theoretical computer science, arithmetic combinatorics and discrete geometry.[7] He is best known for his proof from 1975 of an old conjecture of Paul Erdős and Pál Turán: if a sequence of natural numbers has positive upper density then it contains arbitrarily long arithmetic progressions. This is now known as Szemerédi's theorem. One of the lemmas introduced in his proof is now known as the Szemerédi regularity lemma, which has become an important lemma in combinatorics, being used for instance in property testing for graphs and in the theory of graph limits.

He is also known for the Szemerédi–Trotter theorem in incidence geometry and the Hajnal–Szemerédi theorem in graph theory. Ajtai and Szemerédi proved the corners theorem, an important step toward higher-dimensional generalizations of the Szemerédi theorem. With Ajtai and Komlós he proved the ct2/log t upper bound for the Ramsey number R(3,t), and constructed a sorting network of optimal depth. With Ajtai, Chvátal, and M. M. Newborn, Szemerédi proved the famous Crossing Lemma, that a graph with n vertices and m edges, where m > 4n has at least m3 / 64n2 crossings. With Paul Erdős, he proved the Erdős–Szemerédi theorem on the number of sums and products in a finite set. With Wolfgang Paul, Nick Pippenger, and William Trotter, he established a separation between nondeterministic linear time and deterministic linear time, in the spirit of the infamous P versus NP problem.

Awards and honors

Szemerédi has won numerous awards and honors for his contribution to mathematics and computer science. A few of them are listed here:

  • Grünwald Prize (1967)
  • Grünwald Prize (1968)
  • Rényi Prize (1973)
  • Pólya Prize for Achievement in Applied Mathematics (SIAM) (1975)
  • Prize of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1979)
  • State of New Jersey Professorship (1986)
  • The AMS Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research, (2008)
  • The Rolf Schock Prize in Mathematics for deep and pioneering work from 1975 on arithmetic progressions in subsets of the integers, (2008)[8]
  • The Abel Prize for his fundamental contributions to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science (2012)

Szemerédi is a corresponding member (1982), and member (1987) of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences and a member (2010) of the National Academy of Sciences. He is also a member of the Institute for Advanced Study (IAS), Princeton, NJ and a permanent research fellow at the Rényi Institute of Mathematics, Budapest.

He was the Fairchild Distinguished Scholar at CALTECH in 1987–88.

Szemerédi is an honorary doctor[9] of the Charles University, Prague.

He was the lecturer in the Forty-Seventh Annual DeLong Lecture Series[10] at University of Colorado.

He is also a recipient of the Aisenstadt Chair at CRM,[11] University of Montreal. In 2008 he was the Eisenbud Professor at MSRI Berkeley.

In 2012, Szemerédi was awarded the Abel Prize “for his fundamental contributions to discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science, and in recognition of the profound and lasting impact of these contributions on additive number theory and ergodic theory[12] The Abel Prize citation also credited Szemerédi with bringing combinatorics to the centre-stage of mathematics and noted his place in the tradition of Hungarian mathematicians such as George Pólya who emphasized a problem-solving approach to mathematics.[13] Szemerédi reacted to the announcement by saying that "It is not my own personal achievement, but recognition for this field of mathematics and Hungarian mathematicians," that gave him the most pleasure.[14]


An Irregular Mind (2010 book cover)

On August 2–7, 2010, the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics and the János Bolyai Mathematical Society organized a conference in honor of the 70th birthday of Endre Szemerédi.[15]

Prior to the conference a volume of the Bolyai Society Mathematical Studies Series, An Irregular Mind, a collection of papers edited by Imre Bárány and József Solymosi, was published to celebrate Szemerédi's achievements on the occasion of his 70th birthday.[16][17]

Another conference devoted to celebrating Szemeredi's work is the Third Abel Conference: A Mathematical Celebration of Endre Szemerédi.[18]

Personal life

Szemerédi is married and has five children.[10]


  1. ^ "Magyar tudós kapta a matematika Nobel-díját" (in Hungarian). Népszava. March 21, 2012. Retrieved April 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ By Gabor Stockert
  3. ^ a b http://www.ams.org/notices/201302/rnoti-p221.pdf
  4. ^ http://www.heidelberg-laureate-forum.org/blog/laureate/endre-szemeredi/
  5. ^ Sunita Chand; Ramesh Chandra Parida . Science Reporter, February 2013, p. 17
  6. ^ Endre Szemerédi at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  7. ^ Some Publications at mathscienet
  8. ^ Major US Maths Prize Given to HAS Full Member, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, January 9, 2008.
  9. ^ Doctor honoris causa Endre Szemerédi, June 15–16, 2010.
  10. ^ a b DeLong Lecture Series. Math.colorado.edu. Retrieved on March 22, 2012.
  11. ^ Aisenstadt Chair Recipients. Crm.umontreal.ca. Retrieved on March 22, 2012.
  12. ^ "Hungarian-American Endre Szemerédi named Abel Prize winner". The Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters. Retrieved March 21, 2012. 
  13. ^ Ramachandran, R. (March 22, 2012). "Hungarian mathematician Endre Szemerédi gets 2012 Abel Prize". The Hindu. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  14. ^ Ellis-Nutt, Amy (March 22, 2012). "Rutgers math professor's discovery earns prestigious award, $1M prize". NJ.com. Retrieved 22 March 2012. 
  15. ^ Szemerédi is 70. Renyi.hu. Retrieved on March 22, 2012.
  16. ^ An Irregular Mind. Springer. Retrieved on March 22, 2012.
  17. ^ An Irregular Mind. Amazon. Retrieved on March 22, 2012.
  18. ^ Third Abel Conference: A Mathematical Celebration of Endre Szemerédi

External links

  • Personal Homepage at the Alfréd Rényi Institute of Mathematics
  • Grime, James; Hodge, David (2012). "6,000,000: Endre Szemerédi wins the Abel Prize". Numberphile. Brady Haran. 
  • Interview by Gabot Stockert (translated from the Hungarian into English by Zsuzsanna Dancso)
  • Interview by Martin Raussen and Christian Skau (also on EMS)
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