60th Anniversary, June 2017

News from Ross Program alumni

Please add your comments to the ones posted here.
These are listed mostly in chronological order of the person’s first year at the Program.


Edward Reingold
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After attending the Ross Program at Notre Dame in the summer of 1961 (after my sophomore year in high school), I attended another NSF SSTP at Oregon State the following year. In that program we did a wider variety of topics than in the Ross program, including Fortran programming and switching theory. I got hooked on computers then and made them my life’s work. I got an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the Illinois Institute of Technology (1967) and a doctorate in computer science from Cornell University (1971). I was a faculty member in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1970-2000, retiring as a Professor Emeritus of Computer Science in December 2000 and moved to the Department of Computer Science at the Illinois Institute of Technology as professor and chair, an administrative post I held until 2006. My research interests are in theoretical computer science–especially the design and analysis of algorithms and data structures. I was made a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery in 1995, I have authored or coauthored more than 70 research papers and 10 books; my papers on backtrack search, generation of combinations, weight-balanced binary trees, and drawing of trees and graphs are now considered classics. In the early 1980s I devised and implemented the calendar/diary part of GNU Emacs, maintaining it for many years. That work led to an intense interest in calendars and their computer implementation, resulting several scholarly papers and books. I live in Skokie, Illinois with my wife Ruth (nee Nothmann) of over 40 years. We have four daughters (all on the East Coast) and nine grandchildren.

Janet Kelman
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Greetings to Dan and all Ross Program participants, I was in the Program in the mid-1960’s, studied Chemistry in college and
then got bitten by the bug to make art glass. For over forty years, I’ve created works of blown glass, sandblasted glass, fused glass, and architectural glass installations. I’m still enjoying myself immensely. Here is my website: www.janetkelman.com.
In Columbus, in the 1960’s, I remember the Music Room at the Student Union, walking to Park of the Roses, seeing Blow Up at a theater on High Street, learning string tricks, and planting Sweetarts to grow Sweetart trees.Two years ago, at a friend’s graduation, I met a couple whose son, Julian, was on his way to the Ross Program. I said I went there when I was in high school fifty years ago. They were concerned about sending their 16 year old to a college campus some distance away. I said don’t worry, he will be happily engaged in doing mathematics all summer. And so it was.


Charles Blair
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Greetings to all Ross program participants, especially my classmates from 1966 and 1967. It has been a long time since I’ve published anything, but I have not given up completely. I still have things I like and things I dislike in proofs, and occasionally write something up based on my preferences. I have put a few of them at https://sites.google.com/site/fredinstitute/home/testpage.  Comments, especially ways to do a better webpage, are welcome.

Bruce Cichowlas
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I would be glad to hear from anyone associated with the Ross Program. It was a real blockbuster in my life. Lots has happened since the last update, of course. My main job is currently designing cell phone software for Nokia. I did get a patent issued in internet security since the last update and that was definitely related to some of the mathematics I did with the program long ago! I also have two patents in the process for some biomedical work and another two (which I’m more excited about) in music technology and games. (All of those are a bit “mathy”, too.) The main thing I’d like to do right now is to successfully launch a music video game that’s lots of fun but also teaches some real music performance and listening skills. I have prototypes working on the PC and XBox with some other popular platforms close behind in development. I haven’t lined up the right funding and marketing resources yet, though I have some candidates.I’m also volunteer teaching in elementary school K-5 in computer technology, particularly Lifelong Kindergarten Scratch. If you haven’t tried Scratch, it is free and so much fun for everyone, young people (8 to 18) in particular. I find Scratch in some ways like the Ross program in that it enables young people in math (and other areas), encouraging them to achieve and reach beyond their wildest dreams. Like mathematics, computer technology (particularly the graphical SmallTalk related technology of Scratch) is accessible and powerful without requiring years of previous study. In Scratch, our cycle is imagine…create…share…imagine… . I don’t find that so much different from the attitude of the Ross program.
I live in the Boston area.

Lisa Salkovitz Kohn
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Oh FUDGE!  The 2017 Reunion dates fall at the beginning of our sacrosanct semi-annual fishing week.  It will be a tough family negotiation, but I’ll try to be there for Friday and Saturday through the dinner, at least, particularly if we can get a loyal contingent of attendees from 1966-1969 or  so…will provide updates on this and Life In General in a week or so.(A few years ago, I warmly greeted a high school kid at O’Hare who was wearing a Ross Program QR T-Shirt – his business-attired mother was surprisingly suspicious and not very happy that I knew what it was. I guess I looked more like a lawyer than a mathematician? Or else I was adding fuel to the battle she had lost about whether the T-shirt was appropriate wear for a college visit!)
In any case, here’s looking to a grand reunion. Best wishes, everyone!

Robert Fourer
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I spent two great summers in the Ross program beginning in its 10th anniversary year. I left with a head start on a math degree at MIT, and enough free time to develop an interest in publishing and writing — working on weekends for a year producing the new Boston Phoenix and then enlisting two friends to engineer a sort of takeover of the campus newspaper.  A detour through technical writing led me to a economics/statistics research center where I learned how mathematics and computing could come together in the study of large-scale optimization, which became my PhD field at Stanford and my research focus at Northwestern.  I wrote a paper on the advantages of modeling languages in communicating optimization problems to computational algorithms, and a fortuitous reconnection with a colleague from my pre-doctoral days led to a sabbatical in computer science research at Bell Laboratories where we hatched a project to design a new optimization language.  After many other papers, talks, classes, I have “retired” to devote my energies to the optimization software company (ampl.com) that we started up in our spare time.  I’m looking forward to hearing stories from all of the cohorts of Ross Program alumni.

Merrie Schippereit
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I wish I were able to attend this weekend’s reunion. The Ross program had a profound impact on my life. I learned that it was really okay for girls to be good with numbers and to excel academically. I developed a deep love of mathematics and majored in math at a liberal arts college. The combination of my math major and liberal arts degree helped me get my first job after college as assistant tech staff at the MITRE Corporation. When I later applied to the MBA program at Harvard, I wrote about my experience at the Ross program in my application. I spent my career in finance where my facility with numbers was a great advantage. I have so many good memories of that summer . . . please keep me posted about any future events.
I will be with you all in spirit this weekend.

Cole Giller
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I was there in 1971, a significant time, very influential upon me. Completed a PhD at Berkeley in low dimensional topology under Rob Kirby in 1980 (best time of my life), then left math to become a neurosurgeon specializing in surgery for epilepsy and movement disorders.
Would love to hear from old friends!

Bruce Fox
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I attended the Ross program in the summers of 1988 and 1989. I attended the university of Michigan and graduated with a degree in business administration, then attended law school at Michigan. I was a public defender in California, specializing in mental health cases, and fell in love with psychiatry. After a stint representing parolees in the California department of corrections, I went to medical school in Israel and now I’m back in central California as a resident doctor in psychiatry.

Christine Kellogg Sylanov
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I participated in the Ross Program as a first year mathematics graduate student (1993). After completing an MS at Ohio State, I later worked as a clerical assistant for Dr. Ross while I prepared to attend Veterinary College (DVM 2003). He was 94 at the time, yet his mind far outreached mine. For 3 years I assisted Dr. Ross, and managed his countless communications with leading thinkers. I learned a great deal, which I continue to use in my daily life. ‘Think Deeply of Simple Things’ is my mantra.

Carl Alexander Miller
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I went to the Ross program once as a student (1997) and twice as a counselor (1998, 1999). After this I went to graduate school at Berkeley. I was looking for a difficult subject to study, and one that was also familiar (from Ross), and so I did arithmetic algebraic geometry with Arthur Ogus. It is a beautiful topic and it nicely drew together things I learned when I was younger. I finished my dissertation in 2007 and then moved to the University of Michigan as a postdoc. At U-Michigan I felt like branching out into applied topics, and so I started studying quantum information. This area (developing a mathematical basis for new quantum technology) is a young subject that has a lot of room for mathematical development. There was no conventional route into the discipline for someone with my background, but I was able to get a research scientist position the University of Michigan computer science department and thus make the transition. After a few years of learning & producing minor papers, I had a breakthrough result with my colleague Yaoyun Shi (“Robust Protocols for Securely Expanding Randomness and Distributing Keys Using Untrusted Quantum Devices,” Journal of the ACM, Vol. 63, Issue 4, No 33, Nov. 2016). This was a highly technical paper and it was fortunate that I was well trained (at Ross and at Berkeley) to write complex & rigorous proofs. As of summer 2016, I am jointly appointed at the NIST Computer Security Division and at the Joint Center for Quantum Information & Computer Science (quics.umd.edu). Cryptography & quantum information have many fun mathematical puzzles to solve.

Jesse Kass
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Looking forward to the reunion! I earned my PhD in 2009 and have been working as a math professor, currently in South Carolina after several years as a postdoc. My research interests focus on the interactions between algebra, number theory and geometry, subjects I was first exposed to at the Ross program. The summers I spent at the Ross program were a great experience. My experiences at the program continue to shape both the way I do research and the way I teach others. I just developed a new math class for honors non-STEM majors that introduces some of the material through inquiry-based learning, a (really successful!) teaching technique I was first exposed to at the program.