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Cornell mathematician Harry Kesten wins prestigious Steele Prize

Cornell University mathematician Harry Kesten has won the 2001

Leroy P. Steele Prize for Lifetime Achievement.

Awarded by the American Mathematical Society, the prize is one of the highest distinctions in mathematics. It was presented to Kesten Jan. 11 at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans.

The prize citation notes that Kesten is honored for "his many and deep contributions to probability theory and its applications." Kesten is the Goldwin Smith Professor of Mathematics at Cornell.

In addition to his research on such theoretical problems as percolation theory and random walks, Kesten has "dabbled" in models inspired by statistical mechanics. He also has contributed to the understanding of such practical matters as population growth and river networks.

Kesten grew up in the Netherlands and studied at the University of Amsterdam, where he obtained his degree in mathematics. He earned his Ph.D. at Cornell in 1958, then spent a year as an instructor at Princeton University and two years at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, returning to Cornell as a visiting assistant professor in 1961.

The American Mathematical Society established the Steele Prize in 1970, following a bequest of $145,000 from Leroy P. Steele.

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