SIAM AG on Orthogonal Polynomials and Special Functions


Extract from OP-SF NET

Topic #12 -------------   OP-SF NET 8.6  -------------  November 15, 2001
From: Walter Van Assche 
Subject: Report on a Conference in Honor of Bill Jones

This year Bill Jones of the University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) reached the
respectable age of 70, and since this is not a particularly interesting
number, Phil Gustafson and Cathy Bonan-Hamada decided to organize a
conference (on the Analytic Theory of Continued Fractions, Orthogonal
Functions and Related Topics) to make 70 a special number for Bill. Mesa
State College at Grand Junction, Colorado, was the place to be during the
week of August 6-10 and 28 participants (and friends of Bill) showed up to
sing happy birthday in various languages: Norwegian, (Brazilian) Portuguese,
(Flemish) Dutch, and (American) English. There were plenary lectures by
Annie Cuyt on "Recent applications of rational approximation theory", Lisa
Lorentzen on "The computation of continued fractions", Olav Njastad on
"Continued fractions associated with rational moment problems", myself on
"The Riemann-Hilbert approach for relativistic Hermite polynomials", and
Haakon Waadeland who gave a nice overview of his long relationship with Bill
Jones. Several other participants gave talks on topics that Bill Jones has
worked on: of course this includes continued fractions, but also Pade
approximation, orthogonal and Laurent orthogonal polynomials, a great deal
of frequency analysis (how can we use orthogonal polynomials on the unit
circle to find frequencies in a signal?), computation of special functions,
and various applications. For the latter we were fortunate to have as a
participant David Field, a former student of Bill Jones, now working for
General Motors. The conference even made the newspaper: The Denver Post of
August 10, 2001 has an article "Math magicians boost mind-numbering skills",
with a picture of Haakon Waadeland and Annie Cuyt and a well-written report.
A short quote from the report is:  "Heads nod knowingly. Eyes light up at
the strings of Greek symbols on the overhead projector. This may be an
international conference dedicated to the analytic theory of continued
fractions, orthogonal functions, rational approximation and related topics,
but to the two dozen people in this room who have been drawn to Mesa State
from around the world this week, there is only one word to describe it all.

And fun it was. We enjoyed listening to the talks, discussing some past,
present and future research, and making plans for a new collaboration. Of
course we also enjoyed the excursion (some to Colorado National Monument,
others to Grand Mesa) and the sturdiest among us (including Bill and his
wife Martha) even went on a white water raft trip on the Colorado river.
Many thanks to Phil and Cathy for having this wonderful idea of a conference
and for the smooth organization.

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