nLab
William T. Tutte

Bill Tutte (b. May 14, 1917; d. May 2, 2002) was a British and Canadian mathematician.

Tutte made seminal contributions to graph theory and the theory of matroids. He published the Tutte homotopy theorem? which can be regarded as a generalization of the notion of paths to matroids, and about which Gian-Carlo Rota wrote

The (…) motivation, (…) in Tutte’s vertiginously profound papers, was graph-theoretic. Matroids are objects that play the role of the dual graph of a graph when the graph is not planar. Almost every fact about graphs that can be formulated without using the term “vertex” has a matroidal analogue. The deepest insight obtained from this yoga is Tutte’s homotopy theorem, a unique combinatorial achievement whose far reaching implications are a long way from being fully understood. – Gian-Carlo Rota: Indiscrete Thoughts. Modern Birkhäuser Classics. Chapter “Book Reviews”

His writing style is sometimes described to be extraordinarily compressed, in cautionary remarks like

If you read Tutte, remember: it’s all there, but take a semester off – and plan the first ten pages. (Personal recollections from a seminar)

References

  • William T. Tutte: A homotopy theorem for matroids. I, Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, 88: 144–160 (1958)
  • William T. Tutte: A homotopy theorem for matroids. II, Transactions of the American Mathematical Society, 88: 161–174, (1958)

Last revised on July 28, 2017 at 19:57:13. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.