WMU News

World's graph theory experts connect at WMU

May 15, 2000

KALAMAZOO -- More than 250 of the leading minds responsible for the mathematics behind airline routes, DNA coding and telephone and communication networks will come to Western Michigan University in June to discuss the latest research in their field.

The Ninth Quadrennial International Conference on Graph Theory, Combinatorics, Algorithms and Applications will convene at WMU's Fetzer Center Friday, June 4-9, bringing the world's top experts in graph theory to campus. Considered a major gathering of its type, the conference is expected to attract academic, government and industrial mathematicians and computer scientists to hear more than 150 presentations scheduled for the conference. Held every four years, the conference began in 1968 and was last convened in 1996.

According to Dr. Yousef Alavi, WMU professor emeritus of mathematics and statistics and co-director of the event, society's love affair with cyber technology has led graph theory and combinatorics to become one of the most popular emerging areas in modern mathematics. Graph theory applications occur in the fields of chemistry, electrical and civil engineering, computer and communication science, and operations research. They have also found practical use in disciplines as varied as economics, psychology, geography, biology and anthropology.

"Much of the growth of graph theory and combinatorics has been influenced by the computer," Alavi says. In turn, this field has had a major role in the development of computer science through areas such as program verification, parallel computing and the analysis of algorithms.

Simply put, a graph is a set of points and the lines connecting some of the points. Graph theory, which explores the relationship between those objects, applies naturally to problems such as determining airline transportation routes, chemical molecular structure, DNA genetic code and the design of telephone and communication networks

Co-directing this year's conference with Alavi are Dr. John Petro, chairperson of the University's Department of Mathematics and Statistics; Dr. Allen J. Schwenk, WMU professor of mathematics and statistics; Dr. Ronald L. Graham, senior scientist emeritus of the Mathematics Sciences Research Center at AT&T; and Dr. Don R. Lick, chairperson of the Department of Mathematics at Eastern Michigan University.

The conference is sponsored by WMU and the WMU Department of Mathematics and Statistics and its proceedings will be published and used as references and research tools by mathematicians and applied scientists.

For more information about the event, persons should contact Alavi at (616) 387-4591.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 616 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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