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Biographical Sketch


Jacques Verstraete is currently a full professor in the Department of Mathematics at UC San Diego in La Jolla, California. He received his PhD from Cambridge University in the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics - DPMMS - under the supervision of Professor Andrew Thomason, after completing Part III of the mathematical tripos. Professor Verstraete held academic, teaching, or research positions at the University of Washington, Seattle, Microsoft Research Redmond (Theory Group), University of Waterloo (Department of Combinatorics and Optimization), McGill University (Department of Mathematics). Professor Verstraete undertook recent sabbaticals at IPAM (UCLA), (and UCLA Lake Arrowhead conference center), the Mittag-Leffler Institute (Stockholm), ETH (Zurich), and the Simons-Laufner Institute (Berkeley). 




I work in Extremal and Probabilistic Combinatorics and Ramsey Theory, and related areas of mathematics and theoretical computer science. Research highlights include the following selected papers:


          + The asymptotics of r(4,t) (with S. Mattheus), To appear in the Annals of Mathematics.     

                    Quanta Magazine Article | UC Today Article | French | Spanish | Vietnamese | Italian | Russian | Flemish

          + A note on pseudorandom Ramsey graphs  (with D. Mubayi), To appear in Journal of the European Mathematical Society (JEMS).

          + Tight paths in convex geometric hypergraphs (with Z. Füredi, T. Jiang, A. Kostochka, D. Mubayi), Advances in Combinatorics.

          + Extremal problems for pairs of triangles in a convex polygon. (with Z. Füredi, D. Mubayi, J. O'Neill), Journal of Combinatorial Theory Series B.

          + Cycles in triangle-free graphs of large chromatic numbers (with A. Kostochka, B. Sudakov), Combinatorica.

          + On the Turán number for the hexagon (with Zoltan Füredi, Assaf Naor), Advances in Mathematics.


This and other research works have been presented at international conferences, most recently including the Oberwolfach Combinatorics Conference, the National Academy of Sciences Math Frontiers lecture series, the Erdos Lecture Series, and invitations for plenary talks at SIAM, RSA and other well-recognized venues. I am frequently involved in Squares meetings and workshops at the American Institute of Mathematics (AIM) located at CalTech.


Teaching and Students


I was fortunate to advise Sam Spiro (NSF Postdoc, Rutgers), Jason O’Neill (Cal State LA), Michael Tait (Villanova), Jiaxi Nie (Fudan), and Craig Timmons (Cal State Sacramento) for their recent PhD theses. I am currently accepting applications for graduate school.


The department offers numerous courses in Combinatorics. The combinatorics group designed the Math 154 and Math 158 upper division undergraduate courses, serving many Math and Math CS majors, as well as Math 184 and Math 188. We also teach year-long graduate sequences, including Algebraic Combinatorics and Probabilistic Combinatorics and Algorithms, a wide variety of topics courses, and reading courses for both graduates and undergraduates (including undergraduate research assistants). In the past I have also taught upper division Real Analysis, Number Theory, Probability and Statistics, Mathematical Reasoning, and a wide range of undergraduate courses in calculus, linear algebra and statistics.




I served as Program Director in the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Washington DC. I also served as Editor in Chief of JCTA, Society for Industrial Mathematics (SIAM) Program Director, ArXiv Moderator, SIDMA Editor, Managing Editor of the Journal of Combinatorics, Advisory Board member for Combinatorial Theory, and MathSciNet Math Reviewer, and as Graduate Vice Chair of the Department of Mathematics at UCSD. I serve on numerous committees in the department and undertake outreach to local schools by giving on-site presentations and partaking in the national Math Circles program, as well as the national Eureka Program for talented high school students.  I give talks at local schools (elementary through high school) so please email me if you would like me to visit your school.

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