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All mathematicians live a very exciting life, but with very few exceptions, only internally. Ted Hill is unique in having both a very exciting internal mathematical life-that lead to great breakthroughs in both pure and applied probability theory- and an action-filled, adventerous, external life. Combine it with his natural gift, very rare for mathematicians, of story-telling, it is not surprising that this candid autobiography would be a page-turner. Ted Hill defies many conventional wisdoms and stereotypes about mathematicians in particular, and scientists in general, and this book, in addition to its great entertainment, also brings across a larger message that one can be both a brilliant mathematician and a cool dude.
—Doron Zeilberger, Rutgers University, winner of MAA Ford Prize, AMS Steele Prize, and ICA Euler Medal
Ted Hill is the Indiana Jones of mathematics. Contrary to popular portrayals, mathematicians can have dynamic personalities and lives of high adventure. A West Point graduate, Ted Hill served in Vietnam, swam with sharks in the Caribbean, and has resolutely defied unreasoned authority. With this same love of adventure, he has confronted the sublime challenges of mathematics. He tackles deceptively easily stated mathematical problems of unsuspected depth, providing elegant solutions of real world value. Whether it’s discovering intellectual treasures or careening down jungle trails, this real life Dr. Jones has done it all.
—Michael Monticino, Professor of Mathematics, University of North Texas
This autobiography of cinematic qualities will thrill and perplex the reader, by the seamless mixture of mind-adventure and body-adventure, and for the unconventional academic path traveled by its author.
For the sake of adventure and of moral principle, Hill perpetually runs into trouble with authorities. He is a long term free-rent rider from student days to professorship, a status achieved through generosity toward all and sundry. He cheats death in a train tunnel, camps in Africa, gets arrested on multiple longitudes, elucidates long-outstanding mathematical results, and befriends mathematicians all over the world. He manages to build an academic career despite avoiding college politics and retires honorably when he gets embroiled too much in politics.
With verve and nerve, Hill writes the story of his impassionate life, made of a cascading succession of events and encounters that reach beyond the norm for unusual; it’s a life that touches on the highly exceptional, rich in friendship, thought, and humane warmth.
—Mircea Pitici, Cornell University, Editor of Best Writing on Mathematics
It is well known that Math is boring and that mathematicians are dull individuals lacking both social skills and common sense. Wait a minute…Ted Hill might change your mind. His almost mathemagical life experiences are like a platter of petit fours: sample one and you’d want a second, then a third and soon you’re addicted.
—Christian Houdré, Professor of Mathematics, Georgia Institute of Technology