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In Memoriam

Jeffrey B. Remmel

Distinguished Professor of Mathematics

UC San Diego

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Distinguished Professor of Mathematics Jeffrey B. Remmel, who died suddenly on Friday, September 29, 2017. He was 68.

Born October 12, 1948, Remmel joined the Department of Mathematics at UC San Diego in 1974. He also served as an adjunct professor of computer science and engineering and an adjunct professor of the Rady School of Management. Remmel was a prolific researcher in mathematics and computability, deeply committed to education at all levels, and he mentored many students. Additionally, he was an accomplished administrator who helped expand UC San Diego’s educational and research programs. He will be deeply missed by the department, the Division of Physical Sciences and the university.

Remmel earned his Ph.D. in 1974 at Cornell University, working with Anil Nerode, and he immediately joined the UC San Diego Department of Mathematics, where he spent his entire career. Remmel’s research spanned a broad range of topics in combinatorics, logic, computability, complexity and knowledge representation. His early work with Nerode initiated the study of the computational complexity of mathematical structures. Remmel’s research covered many topics in algebraic combinatorics, especially on enumerative combinatorics, tableaux theory, shuffle conjectures and permutation theory. Remmel accomplished foundational work in knowledge representation on the complexity of nonmonotonic logics and answer set programming. He was a highly dedicated teacher, often teaching courses above and beyond his assigned course load, and he advised more than 30 Ph.D. students. Remmel had well over 300 publications in conferences and journals with over 90 co-authors, and he was the co-editor of the “Handbook of Recursive Mathematics” and co-author of a graduate text on symmetric functions.

Remmel served as the chair of the Department of Mathematics from 1998 to 2002, effectively leading the department through a time of expansion. He was the associate dean for the Division of Physical Sciences from 2000 until 2016 and served as the interim dean of physical sciences during fall 2016. During his tenure as chair and as associate dean, Remmel initiated and led projects substantially expanding the STEM educational programs at UC San Diego. The most important of these is the Science and Math Teacher Initiative (CalTeach) for which Remmel was a founding director from 2005 onward. The CalTeach program prepares undergraduates to teach mathematics and science at the middle and high school levels. Hundreds of UC San Diego students completed the CalTeach program and received California credentials for science and mathematics education. Since February 2016, Remmel served as the chair of the Systemwide Committee for CalTeach. He was recently a founding co-director of the Center for Advancing Multidisciplinary Scholarship for Excellence in Education (CAMSEE). He also led efforts to set up the UC San Diego Summer Academy, and was the director of the OASIS Summer Bridge Mathematics Program to help entering freshmen transition to academics and student life on campus.

Remmel was passionate in furthering interdisciplinary research and education at the university. He was instrumental in the creation of UC San Diego’s graduate program in computational science, mathematics and engineering (CSME), spanning six departments at UC San Diego. He was also a driving force in the formation of a new data science major (and minor), a joint effort of the Departments of Mathematics and Computer Science and Engineering, in cooperation with the Department of Cognitive Science. The major began admitting students in 2016.

In addition, Remmel contributed substantially to the founding of the Rady School of Management.

“Jeff was steadfast in his support and passion for students and future teachers and programs that serve to expand educational pathways for our youth. His leadership and advocacy as chair of the CalTeach Executive Committee will be sorely missed,” said Claudia Martinez, executive director of Educator Programs and the California Subject Matter Project at UCOP.

Mark Thiemens, professor of chemistry and biochemistry and the former dean of the Division of Physical Sciences stated, “Jeff was a magnificent mathematician and scholar, teacher-mentor, creator of new academic programs and administrator. He did it all. I was fortunate to work with him every day for more than 15 years and see all that he was accomplishing. I was simultaneously astounded and humbled by Jeff.”

Fan Chung Graham, professor of mathematics and computer science, added, “Jeff not only inspired his own graduate students, but also was extremely generous in helping other students and young researchers. He was much sought after by friends and colleagues for his wisdom in dealing with complicated problems.”

Remmel is survived by his wife Paula, his son Christopher Remmel, and his daughter Saramaria Remmel. In lieu of sending flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Jeffrey Remmel Memorial Fund in the Department of Mathematics. Donations can be made online at; please search "Jeffrey Remmel Memorial Fund."

Steven Boggs
Dean, Division of Physical Sciences

Lei Ni
Professor and Chair, Department of Mathematics