Jerry Grossman's Website

Jerrold W. Grossman, Professor EmeritusDepartment of Mathematics and Statistics, Oakland University(248) 935-1029,

Here are some useful or interesting WWW pages:

AMS directory, AMS, MSC, MAA, OU MSN, MSN, authors, ZBMath, Jahrbuch, google, webmail, Voyager, futures, quotes, Erdös (Erdős) Numbers, xkcd, Det. FP, Oak. Press, NYT, Wash. Post, CNN, money, WUOM, MacTutor, FacRes, ACBL, ACBLd12, MiBC, eBay, amazon, FB, ZIP codes, postage, MapQuest, MathFac, DeptSched, time, age, translate, DBLP, e-cards, netflix, geneal, JSTOR, IRS, CPI, national debt, shortz, collab, sequences, bridgebase, orbitz, Delta, calendar, anagrams, OU-AAUP, accuweather, cnn weather, pop clock, Michigan MAA, E*Trade, keyboard shortcuts

Erdös Number Project

A pet project of mine is to keep track of the extent of collaboration in the mathematical sciences. This project includes keeping up-to-date lists showing all people with Erdös number less than or equal to 2. (The late Paul Erdös has Erdös number 0, his co-authors have Erdös number 1, the other co-authors of his co-authors have Erdös number 2, and so on.) Browse our lists and information on the Erdös Number Project home page, and send any additions or corrections to me.


My research is mainly in discrete mathematics. Within discrete mathematics I concentrate on graph theory (which is a branch of combinatorics). However, I have also worked in theoretical computer science, elementary number theory, algebraic topology, probability and statistics, and other areas. One of my favorite papers is "A mod-n Ackermann function, or what's so special about 1969?" (American Mathematical Monthly, 1993), which concerns a conjecture about the behavior of an iteration process that is true for every value of n less than 4,000,000 except for n = 1969. This provides a great lesson in not jumping to conclusions on the basis of numerical evidence.

In addition, I am fond of mathematical puzzles and games, and I like to propose and solve mathematical problems, such as appear in the American Mathematical Monthly and Mathematics Magazine, or occur on the Putnam competition. I'm particularly proud of a problem in The Mathematical Intelligencer, about a new fundamental constant of mathematics. Here is a link to something else named after me.

Other professional activities

My teaching interests were also fairly broad, including computer science, statistics, and mathematics courses for elementary education majors, as well as the usual mathematics major and service courses at both the graduate and the undergraduate level. I must be doing a few things right, because I received Oakland University's Teaching Excellence Award in 1992 and the 1994 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in Michigan. My textbook, Discrete Mathematics: An Introduction to Concepts, Methods, and Applications (Macmillan/Prentice-Hall/Pearson, 1990), is suitable for a sophomore level course covering logic, set theory, graph theory, combinatorics, and algorithms for mathematics and computer science majors.

The third part of a faculty member's job is service on committees and similar duties. On this front I served as an academic adviser, associate chair of the department, adviser for the student math club, member of the University Senate and the College of Arts and Sciences Assembly (and their Steering Committees), bargainer for our AAUP chapter, director of the state High School Visiting Lecture Program, editor of the state MAA Newsletter, member of the state high school mathematics prize competition examination committee, Governor of the Michigan Section of the MAA, member of the committee overseeing MAA's national high school competitions (chair 2014–2019), member of the Educational Materials Committee and Mathematics Teacher Editorial Panel of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and volunteer tax preparation service through AARP, to name a few highlights. I also reviewed research articles for Mathematical Reviews (MathSciNet), and consulted for Ford Motor Company, Mathematical Reviews, and numerous textbook publishers. I also consult for various mathematics education projects. Recognition has included the Michigan Section MAA Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and the national MAA Certificate for Meritorious Service in 2007.

Brief biography

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 25, 1948, grew up in Arlington, Virginia (suburban Washington, DC), attended Glencarlyn (rebuilt as Carlin Springs) and Claremont Elementary Schools and Gunston Junior High School, and graduated from Wakefield High School in 1966 (see also this page and this one, as well as this one about my being in their Hall of Fame), where perhaps the highlight was being named one of the Westinghouse (later Intel, now Regeneron) Science Talent Search Top 40 national finalists; attended Stanford University, earning a BS and MS in mathematics in 1970; and received a PhD in mathematics (in algebraic topology under Dan Kan*) from M.I.T. in 1974. I was on the mathematics faculty at Oakland University from 1974 to 2018. I also spent summers during college working as a mathematician at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology).

*My academic genealogy proceeds backwards from Kan through Samuel Eilenberg, Karol Borsuk, and Stefan Mazurkiewicz to Waclaw Sierpinski. Sierpinski seems to have had two academic advisors: Georgy Voronoy in fact, and Stanislaw Zaremba officially. From Voronoy the chain goes through several Russians: Andrei Markov, Pafnuty Chebyshev, and Nikolai Brashman, before ending, I am told, at the Viennese astronomer and mathematician Joseph Johann von Littrow (1781–1840). From Zaremba the chain goes through lots of other famous names, including Simeon Denis Poisson, Joseph Lagrange, Leonhard Euler, Johann Bernoulli, Jacob Bernoulli, and Gottfried Leibniz. A great web site tracks such genealogy.

A cute feature on me appeared in MAA Focus.

Personal information

I live in Rochester Hills, Oakland County, Michigan (about 30 miles north of Detroit) with my wife, Suzanne Zeitman, and our cats, Nigel and Lena. Suzanne also has two horses, Elroy and PJae, who live in a barn half an hour from home. In my spare time I like to travel, play tournament bridge (7300 master points), sail Siegfried (my Laser), cross-country ski, and in general eat, drink, and be merry. There is a sculpture of a Galapagos tortoise by William (Bill) Allen at the Detroit Zoo in memory of our daughter, Pamela Jane Grossman (1984–1990). There is also a fund in her memory at Oakland University.

Last updated February 17, 2020.