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Frank Harary
LSA Minutes

Frank Harary

Frank Harary, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, died January 4, 2005. Harary was born in New York City on March 11, 1921, the oldest child of immigrant parents. He received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Brooklyn College, and his doctorate from the University of California, Berkeley.

Harary held a faculty position in the UM Department of Mathematics from 1948-86. He also was a member of the Institute for Social Research (ISR) from 1950-82. He was a Distinguished Professor (and later Distinguished Professor Emeritus) in the Computer Science Department at New Mexico State University in Las Cruces from 1987 until the time he passed away.

Harary was widely recognized as the “father” of modern graph theory, a discipline of Mathematics he helped found, popularize and revitalize. He wrote numerous books and articles, including the 1969 book, “Graph Theory,” which has become a modern classic that helped define, develop, direct, and shape the field of modern graph theory. In 1955, Harary taught UM’s first graph theory and combinatorial theory courses.

He was a founder of the Journals of Combinatorial Theory and of Graph Theory and served on the editorial boards of many more.

During his long and productive career, Harary authored/co-authored more than 700 scholarly papers—in areas as diverse as anthropology, biology, chemistry, computer science, geography, linguistics, music, physics, political science, psychology, social science and mathematics— which brought forth the usefulness of graph theory in scientific thought.

Harary guided 16 doctoral students, many of whom have gone on to be distinguished scholars themselves. As a member of the Research Center for Group Dynamics at ISR, he studied the feasibility of applying mathematical models to the study of structures in groups of people.

Harary was awarded six honorary doctorate degrees, and has received numerous other awards and recognition for his work. He had a deep and abiding love for Mathematics and traveled the globe preaching the gospel of graph theory. He delivered speeches at more than 1,000 conferences and was invited to lecture in more than 87 countries. He particularly was proud of having given lectures in cities with names beginning with every letter of the alphabet. He finally got his ‘X’ with a lecture in the excavated Roman amphitheater in Xanten, Germany.

As a result of his contributions to the field, colleagues, peers and students fondly referred to Harary as Mr. Graph Theory. He is survived by four children: Mimi, Natalie, Tom and Joel.

Submitted by the Department of Mathematics