Published May 11, 2020

By the Numbers

Chair holder shares passion for mathematics with his students

Pham Huu Tiep, who holds the Joshua Barlaz Chair in Mathematics at the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University–New Brunswick, is an internationally renowned expert in finite groups theory and representation theory. Group theory focuses on algebraic structures known as groups.

In 2009, Tiep helped solve the Ore conjecture, first posed in 1951, along with professors from Israel, England, and New Zealand, and he has contributed to the understanding of several other fundamental problems in group representation theory. He was a speaker at the prestigious International Congress of Mathematicians in 2018 and has given plenary addresses at meetings of the American Mathematical Society and the Canadian Mathematical Society. Tiep has also spoken at many international conferences and has lectured at universities worldwide.

Tiep serves on the editorial boards of several mathematical journals, including Algebra & Number Theory, Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society, and Communications in Algebra, as well as the book series Developments in Mathematics. He is an associate editor of Annals of Mathematics and is on the American Mathematical Society’s Mathematical Reviews Editorial Committee. He is the author of four books and more than 150 papers published in Annals of Mathematics and other leading mathematics journals.

Tiep holds a doctorate from Moscow State University and is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society. His research has received funding from the National Science Foundation.

The Barlaz Chair was established by John Byrne Jr. RC’54, an insurance executive who studied with mathematics professor Joshua Barlaz as a Rutgers undergraduate. Byrne, who died in 2013, is credited with saving the GEICO Corporation from the brink of insolvency when he was its CEO and chair in the mid-1970s. Prominent investor Warren Buffet, owner of GEICO’s parent company, Berkshire Hathaway, called Byrne “the Babe Ruth of insurance.” Byrne served on Rutgers University Foundation’s Board of Overseers for more than a decade.

In the Professor’s Own Words

Which of your many accomplishments is most meaningful to you?

It is not easy for me to single out such an accomplishment. I am very proud of the many deep results on several fundamental problems in group representation theory that I have established, some jointly with my collaborators. I was also honored to give an invited lecture at the International Congress of Mathematicians in 2018.

Which do you prefer—research or teaching?

Both! As much joy as I get having solved a long-standing conjecture, I am equally happy being able to make an important mathematical theorem understood by my students.

What drew you to Rutgers?

Rutgers is one of the premier universities in the nation and worldwide. Rutgers has long and strong traditions in mathematics, particularly in group theory, and is the birthplace of the classification of finite simple groups, one of—if not the—most monumental theorems of modern mathematics.

What do you hope your students take away from their studies with you?

That mathematics is fun to study and ubiquitously useful!

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