Herbert Wilf

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Herbert Saul Wilf
Herbert Wilf.jpg
Born June 13, 1931
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died January 7, 2012(2012-01-07) (aged 80)
Wynnewood, Pennsylvania
Nationality American
Alma mater Columbia University
Known for Combinatorics
Awards Leroy P. Steele Prize (1998)
Euler Medal (2002)
Scientific career
Fields Mathematician
Institutions University of Pennsylvania
Doctoral advisor Herbert Ellis Robbins
Doctoral students Fan Chung
Richard Garfield
Rodica Simion
E. Roy Weintraub
Michael Wertheimer

Herbert Saul Wilf (June 13, 1931 – January 7, 2012) was a mathematician, specializing in combinatorics and graph theory. He was the Thomas A. Scott Professor of Mathematics in Combinatorial Analysis and Computing at the University of Pennsylvania. He wrote numerous books and research papers. Together with Neil Calkin he founded The Electronic Journal of Combinatorics in 1994 and was its editor-in-chief until 2001.


Wilf was the author of numerous papers and books, and was adviser and mentor to many students and colleagues. His collaborators include Doron Zeilberger and Donald Knuth. One of Wilf's former students is Richard Garfield, the creator of the collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. He also served as a thesis advisor for E. Roy Weintraub in the late 1960s.

Wilf died of a progressive neuromuscular disease in 2012.[1]


In 1998, Wilf and Zeilberger received the Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research for their joint paper, "Rational functions certify combinatorial identities" (Journal of the American Mathematical Society, 3 (1990) 147–158). The prize citation reads: "New mathematical ideas can have an impact on experts in a field, on people outside the field, and on how the field develops after the idea has been introduced. The remarkably simple idea of the work of Wilf and Zeilberger has already changed a part of mathematics for the experts, for the high-level users outside the area, and the area itself." Their work has been translated into computer packages that have simplified hypergeometric summation.

In 2002, Wilf was awarded the Euler Medal by the Institute of Combinatorics and its Applications.

Selected publications[edit]


Lecture notes[edit]

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  1. ^ "In Memoriam: Herbert S. Wilf". Math.upenn.edu. 1931-06-13. Archived from the original on 2012-01-20. Retrieved 2012-01-14. 
  2. ^ Hayman, W. K. (1991). "Review: Generatingfunctionology, by H. S. Wilf". Bull. Amer. Math. Soc. (N.S.). 25 (1): 104–106. doi:10.1090/s0273-0979-1991-16036-2. 

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