William T. Trotter is a Professor in the School of Mathematics at Georgia Tech. He was first exposed to combinatorial mathematics through the 1971 Bowdoin Combinatorics Conference which featured an array of superstars of that era, including Gian Carlo Rota, Paul Erdős, Marshall Hall, Herb Ryzer, Herb Wilf, William Tutte, Ron Graham, Daniel Kleitman and Ray Fulkerson. Since that time, he has published more than 120 research papers on graph theory, discrete geometry, Ramsey theory, and extremal combinatorics. Perhaps his best known work is in the area of combinatorics and partially ordered sets, and his 1992 research monograph on this topic has been very influential. (He takes some pride in the fact that this monograph is still in print and copies are being sold in 2016.) He has more than 70 co-authors, but considers his extensive joint work with Graham Brightwell, Stefan Felsner, Peter Fishburn, Hal Kierstead and Endre Szemerèdi as representing his best work. His career includes invited presentations at more than 50 international conferences and more than 30 meetings of professional societies. He was the founding editor of the SIAM Journal on Discrete Mathematics and has served on the Editorial Board of Order since the journal was launched in 1984, and his service includes an eight year stint as Editor-in-Chief. Currently, he serves on the editorial boards of three other journals in combinatorial mathematics.
Still he has his quirks. First, he insists on being called “Tom”, as Thomas is his middle name, while continuing to sign as William T. Trotter. Second, he has invested time and energy serving five terms as department/school chair, one at Georgia Tech, two at Arizona State University and two at the University of South Carolina. In addition, he has served as a Vice Provost and as an Assistant Dean. Third, he is fascinated by computer operating systems and is always installing new ones. In one particular week, he put eleven different flavors of Linux on the same machine, interspersed with four complete installs of Windows 7. Incidentally, the entire process started and ended with Windows 7. Fourth, he likes to hit golf balls, not play golf, just hit balls. Without these diversions, he might even have had enough time to settle the Riemann hypothesis.
He has had eleven Ph.D. students, one of which is now his co-author on this text.