David P. Robbins Prize

Photo courtesy of Ken Robbins
The Robbins Prize is for a paper with the following characteristics:  it shall report on novel research in algebra, combinatorics or discrete mathematics and shall have a significant experimental component; and it shall be on a topic which is broadly accessible and shall provide a simple statement of the problem and clear exposition of the work. Papers published within the six calendar years preceding the year in which the prize is awarded are eligible for consideration.

About this Prize

This prize was established in 2005 in memory of David P. Robbins by members of his family.  Robbins, who died in 2003, received his Ph.D. in 1970 from MIT. He was a long-time member of the Institute for Defense Analysis Center for Communications Research and a prolific mathematician whose work (much of it classified) was in discrete mathematics.

The current prize amount is US$5,000 and the prize is awarded every 3 years.

Most Recent Prize: 2022

Alin Bostan, Irina Kurkova, and Kilian Raschel will receive the 2022 AMS David P. Robbins Prize for their paper “A human proof of Gessel's lattice path conjecture,” published in Transactions of the American Mathematical Society in 2017. The paper proves highly nontrivial enumeration results on a family of lattice paths known as Gessel walks. These simple-to-describe walks have a surprisingly beautiful enumeration that withstands standard combinatorial techniques. The proof makes an inspired use of experimentation to connect the problem with a remarkable identity involving elliptic functions. Unlike previous arguments, this novel proof method avoids any reference to large-scale computation.

Prize announcement as seen in the news release.

See previous winners

Next Prize:  January 2025

Nomination Period:  1 March - 30 June, 2024

Nomination Procedure: 

Submit a letter of nomination, a complete bibliographic citation for the work being nominated, and a brief citation that explains why the work is important.

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