#
Honorary doctorate for I.G. Macdonald

On 8 January 2002, at the celebration of its 370th anniversary, the
University of Amsterdam has
granted honorary doctorates to the Dutch
historian **Eddy de Jongh**, the British mathematician
**Ian Macdonald**, and
**Arthur Chaskalso**n, the president of the Constitutional Court of South
Africa.
## Ian Macdonald

Ian Macdonald (1928) is working in pure mathematics, in
particular group theory, algebraic combinatorics and the
theory of special functions. Remarkable features of his work are
its great originality and an almost infallibe intuition for posing
fundamental research questions. Macdonald has become famous amongst
mathematicians a.o. by his book
*Symmetric functions and Hall polynomials*
and by the introduction of the Macdonald polynomials.
*Symmetric functions and Hall polynomials* (1979,
much extended second edition in 1995) is
a standard reference book about
the representation theory of the symmetric group and its many
combinatorical, algebraic and group theoretical applications.
In
*Affine root systems and Dedekind's eta-function*
(Inventiones Mathematicae 15, 1972) he establishes a connection between a
number theoretical observation by the physicist Freeman Dyson and
the theory of simple Lie algebras. In
*Some conjectures for root systems*
(SIAM Journal on Mathematical Analysis 13, 1982) Macdonald formulates
some conjectures about the combinatorical properties
of so-called *root systems*. In 1987/88 he defines a
class of symmetric functions, and more generally a class of
polynomials associated with root systems, which are now both known
as **Macdonald polynomials** (see
*A new class of symmetric functions* and
*Orthogonal polynomials associated with root systems* in
Séminaire Lotharingien Combinatoire 20, 1988 and 45, 2000).
The impact of these polynomials, both in mathematics and in
theoretical physics, has been enormous.

Ian Macdonald started his scientific career in 1957
as a lecturer in mathematics at the University of Manchester. Until his
retirement in 1987 Macdonald has worked during many years as a professor
at
Queen Mary College
in London.
Since his retirement he has remained
active in research with publications and lectures.

## Symposium

Additionally, a
symposium on the occasion of Ian Macdonald's honorary doctorate took
place at the KdV Institute on 11 January 2002, 11.15-16.30 hour.

See a
list of all honorary doctorates granted by UvA
to mathematicians.

to Tom Koornwinder's home page