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Daniel Kleitman

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Daniel J. Kleitman (born October 4, 1934)[1][2][3] is an American mathematician and professor of applied mathematics at MIT. His research interests include combinatorics, graph theory, genomics, and operations research.


Kleitman was born in 1934 in Brooklyn, New York,[1] the younger of Bertha and Milton Kleitman's two sons. His father was a lawyer who after WWII became a commodities trader and investor. In 1942 the family moved to Morristown, New Jersey,[4] and he graduated from Morristown High School in 1950.[1]

Kleitman then attended Cornell University, from which he graduated in 1954,[1] and received his PhD in Physics from Harvard University in 1958 under Nobel Laureates Julian Schwinger and Roy Glauber.[5] He is the "k" in G. W. Peck, a pseudonym for a group of six mathematicians that includes Kleitman. Formerly a physics professor at Brandeis University,[6] Kleitman was encouraged by Paul Erdős to change his field of study to mathematics. Perhaps humorously, Erdős once asked him, "Why are you only a physicist?"[1]

Kleitman joined the applied mathematics faculty at MIT in 1966, and was promoted to professor in 1969.[6]

Kleitman coauthored at least six papers with Erdős, giving him an Erdős number of 1.

He was a math advisor and extra for the film Good Will Hunting.[7] Since Minnie Driver, who appeared in Good Will Hunting, also appeared in Sleepers with Kevin Bacon, Kleitman has a Bacon number of 2. Adding the two numbers results in an Erdős–Bacon number of 3, which is a tie with Bruce Reznick for the lowest number anyone has.[8]

In 2024 Kleitman was elected as a member of the National Academy of Sciences.[9]

Personal life[edit]

On July 26, 1964 Kleitman married Sharon Ruth Alexander. They have three children.[1]

Selected publications[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Peck, G. W. (2002). "Kleitman and Combinatorics: A Celebration". Discrete Mathematics. 257 (2–3): 193–224. doi:10.1016/S0012-365X(02)00595-2. MR 1935723. (article available on Douglas West's web page, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign).
  2. ^ "Kleitman, Daniel J.," in: Who's Who in Frontier Science and Technology, 1, 1984, p. 396.
  3. ^ Kleitman, Daniel J in American Men of Science, vol. 4, 2009
  4. ^ Kevin Coughlin (July 25, 2012). "New park, plus tree plan, make for sunny summer day on Hillcrest Avenue in Morristown". MorrisTownGreen.com..
  5. ^ Daniel Kleitman at the Mathematics Genealogy Project
  6. ^ a b "MIT Mathematics - Daniel Kleitman". www-math.mit.edu. Archived from the original on 2 April 2010. Retrieved 23 March 2010.
  7. ^ Daniel J. Kleitman, "My Career in the Movies,", Notices of the American Mathematical Society, 45, 502 (April 1998)
  8. ^ Grossman, Jerry. "Items of Interest Related to Erdös Numbers". The Erdös Number Project. Oakland University. Retrieved 24 August 2018.
  9. ^ "National Academy of Sciences Elects Members and International Members". April 30, 2024.
  10. ^ The publication states "Bruce R. Rothschild", a typographical error for "Bruce L. Rothschild".

External links[edit]