Professor Gerhard Ringel

Professor Gerhard Ringel

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Professors are seldom good drivers

The book "Four colors suffice" by the British mathematician Robin Wilson contains the following anecdote about Gerhard Ringel that happened shortly after he and J.W.T.Youngs had published their proof of the Heawood Conjecture: "Ringel was driving up the California expressway when he was stopped by a traffic cop for speeding. The cop looked at his driving licence, and said 'Ringel, eh - are you the one who solved the Heawood conjecture?' Ringel, surprised, said 'yes'. It turned out that the traffic cop's son was in Professor Youngs' calculus class, and the result was that Ringel got let off with a warning - and if that doesn't show the uses of map colouring, I don't know what does!"
(quoted from the online transcript of his lecture at Gresham College on 21/10/2002)