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)
W. T. Tutte (1984), Graph Theory, Addison-Wesley.
W. T. Tutte (1998), Graph Theory As I Have Known It, Oxford.
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