GianCarlo Rota
GianCarlo Rota  

Rota in 1970.
 
Born 
Vigevano, Italy 
April 27, 1932
Died 
April 18, 1999 Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA 
(aged 66)
Residence  Italy, Ecuador, USA 
Alma mater 
Princeton University Yale University 
Awards  Leroy P. Steele Prize (1988) 
Scientific career  
Fields  Mathematics, Philosophy 
Institutions 
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Los Alamos National Laboratory The Rockefeller University 
Doctoral advisor  Jacob T. Schwartz 
Notable students 
GianCarlo Rota (April 27, 1932 – April 18, 1999) was an Italianborn American mathematician and philosopher.
Early life and education
Rota was born in Vigevano, Italy. His father, Giovanni, a prominent antifascist, was the brother of the mathematician Rosetta, who was the wife of the writer Ennio Flaiano.^{[1]}^{[2]} GianCarlo's family left Italy when he was 13 years old, initially going to Switzerland.
Rota attended the Colegio Americano de Quito in Ecuador, and earned degrees at Princeton University and Yale University.
Career
Much of Rota's career was spent as a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he was and remains the only person ever to be appointed Professor of Applied Mathematics and Philosophy. Rota was also the Norbert Wiener Professor of Applied Mathematics.
In addition to his professorships at MIT, Rota held four honorary degrees, from the University of Strasbourg, France (1984); the University of L'Aquila, Italy (1990); the University of Bologna, Italy (1996); and Brooklyn Polytechnic University (1997). Beginning in 1966 he was a consultant at Los Alamos National Laboratory, frequently visiting to lecture, discuss, and collaborate, notably with his friend Stanislaw Ulam. He was also a consultant for the Rand Corporation (1966–71) and for the Brookhaven National Laboratory (1969–1973). Rota was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1982, was vice president of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) from 1995–97, and was a member of numerous other mathematical and philosophical organizations.^{[3]}
He taught a difficult but very popular course in probability. He also taught Applications of Calculus, differential equations, and Combinatorial Theory. His philosophy course in phenomenology was offered on Friday nights to keep the enrollment manageable. Among his many eccentricities, he would not teach without a can of CocaCola, and handed out prizes ranging from Hershey bars to pocket knives to students who asked questions in class or did well on tests.^{[4]}^{[5]}
Rota began his career as a functional analyst, but switched to become a distinguished combinatorialist. His series of ten papers on the "Foundations of Combinatorics" in the 1960s is credited with making it a respectable branch of modern mathematics. He said that the one combinatorial idea he would like to be remembered for is the correspondence between combinatorial problems and problems of the location of the zeroes of polynomials.^{[6]} He worked on the theory of incidence algebras (which generalize the 19thcentury theory of Möbius inversion) and popularized their study among combinatorialists, set the umbral calculus on a rigorous foundation, unified the theory of Sheffer sequences and polynomial sequences of binomial type, and worked on fundamental problems in probability theory. His philosophical work was largely in the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl.
Death
Rota died of atherosclerotic cardiac disease, apparently in his sleep at his home in Cambridge, Massachusetts. He died just a few days short of his 67th birthday. His death was discovered after he failed to arrive in Philadelphia for lectures he had planned to present beginning on Monday 19 April 1999.^{[3]}
A reading room in MIT's Department of Mathematics is dedicated to Rota.
See also
 Kallman–Rota inequality
 Rota's conjecture
 Rota's basis conjecture
 Rota–Baxter algebra
 List of American philosophers
 Joint spectral radius, introduced by Rota in the early 1960s
Notes
 ^ O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "GianCarlo Rota", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.

^ Palombi, Fabrizio (2011). The Star and the Whole: GianCarlo Rota on Mathematics and Phenomenology. CRC Press. pp. 6–7.
His aunt, Rosetta Rota (1911–2003), was a mathematician associated with the renowned Rome university Institute of Physics in Via Panispenra…
 ^ ^{a} ^{b} "MIT professor GianCarlo Rota, mathematician and philosopher, is dead at 66". April 22, 1999.
 ^ Wesley T. Chan (December 5, 1997). "To Teach or Not To Teach: Professors Might Try a New Approach to Classes – Caring about Teaching". The Tech. 117 (63). Retrieved 20080210.
 ^ "GianCarlo Rota". The Tech. 119 (21). April 23, 1999. Retrieved 20080210.
 ^ "Mathematics, Philosophy, and Artificial Intelligence: a dialogue with GianCarlo Rota and David Sharp". Archived from the original on August 11, 2007. Retrieved 20070811.
External links
 GianCarlo Rota at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
 O'Connor, John J.; Robertson, Edmund F., "GianCarlo Rota", MacTutor History of Mathematics archive, University of St Andrews.
 Kung, Joseph; Rota, GianCarlo; Yan, Catherine (2009). Combinatorics: The Rota Way. Cambridge Mathematical Library. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 052173794X.
 The Forbidden City of GianCarlo Rota (a memorial site) at the Wayback Machine (archived June 30, 2007) This page at www.rota.org was not originally intended to be a memorial web site, but was created by Rota himself with the assistance of his friend Bill Chen in January 1999 while Rota was visiting Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 Mathematics, Philosophy, and Artificial Intelligence: a dialogue with GianCarlo Rota and David Sharp at the Wayback Machine (archived August 11, 2007)
 "Fine Hall in its golden age: Remembrances of Princeton in the early fifties" by GianCarlo Rota.
 Tribute page by Prof. Catherine Yan (Texas A&M University), a former student of Rota
 Scanned copy of GianCarlo Rota's and Kenneth Baclawski's Introduction to Probability and Random Processes manuscript in its 1979 version.
 GianCarlo Rota (1996). Indiscrete Thoughts. Birkhäuser Boston. ISBN 0817638660, ISBN 0817638660; review at MAA.org
 The Digital Footprint of GianCarlo Rota: International Conference in memory of GianCarlo Rota, organized by Ottavio D'Antona, Vincenzo Marra and Ernesto Damiani at the University of Milan (Italy)
 GianCarlo Rota on Analysis and Probability, ISBN 9780817642754.
 1932 births
 1999 deaths
 People from Vigevano
 20thcentury Italian mathematicians
 Italian mathematicians
 20thcentury Italian philosophers
 20thcentury American mathematicians
 American philosophers
 Combinatorialists
 American people of Italian descent
 Princeton University alumni
 Yale University alumni
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology faculty
 Phenomenologists