Richard Askey died on October 9, 2019 after a short illness. He joined the UW Department of Mathematics in 1963 and retired in 2003 after 40 years of service.
Dick was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a Honorary Fellow of the Indian Mathematical Society. He was named Gabor Szego Professor of Mathematics in 1986 and was awarded a John Bascom Professorship in 1995. He had 13 Ph.D. students,, but his influence went far beyond his students. Professor Askey was passionate about mathematics and mathematics education. He excelled in research, teaching, and service to the university and to the mathematics community. He was once described as a `national treasure.’
Two mathematicians, Will Sawin of Columbia University and Mark Shusterman of University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently posted a proof of a version of one of the most famous open problems in mathematics. The result opens a new front in the study of the twin primes conjecture, which has bedeviled mathematicians for more than a century and has implications for some of the deepest features of arithmetic.
The twin primes conjecture concerns pairs of prime numbers with a difference of 2. The numbers 5 and 7 are twin primes. So are 17 and 19. The conjecture predicts that there are infinitely many such pairs among the counting numbers, or integers. Mathematicians made a burst of progress on the problem in the last decade, but they remain far from solving it.
The new proof solves the twin primes conjecture in a smaller but still salient mathematical world. They prove the conjecture is true in the setting of finite number systems, in which you might only have a handful of numbers to work with.
UW-Madison Department of Mathematics
Van Vleck Hall
480 Lincoln Drive
Madison, WI 53706