Welcome to Jerry Grossman’s home page.


    Professor Jerrold W. Grossman
    Department of Mathematics and Statistics
    College of Arts and Sciences
    Oakland University
    Rochester, MI 48309-4485 [that’s Michigan]

        PHONE:	 (248) 370-3443
        CELL:	 (248) 935-1029
        FAX:	 (248) 370-4184
        OFFICE:  Room 346 MSC
        E-MAIL:  grossman@oakland.edu

    (click on picture for bigger image; 
     photo by Jack Nachman)

Here are some useful or interesting WWW pages

Office hours and web pages for my courses

I have retired, officially as of August 15, 2018. However, I will continue to be in my office a lot, so feel free to drop by at any time, or phone or e-mail to set up an appointment.

Here are the website for my courses, dating back to 1999. The links for earlier semesters are in most cases links to my most recent offering of the same course. More general information about programs in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics can be found on the department web site.

Erdös Number Project

A pet project of mine is to keep track of the extent of collaboration in the mathematical sciences. This project includes keeping up-to-date lists showing all people with Erdös number less than or equal to 2. (The late Paul Erdös has Erdös number 0, his co-authors have Erdös number 1, the other co-authors of his co-authors have Erdös number 2, and so on.) Browse our lists and information on the Erdös Number Project home page, and send any additions or corrections to me.


My research is mainly in discrete mathematics. Within discrete mathematics I concentrate on graph theory (which is a branch of combinatorics). However, I have also worked in theoretical computer science, elementary number theory, algebraic topology, probability and statistics, and other areas. Actually, I am interested in quite a few areas of mathematics. Click here for an interesting site that talks about all the branches of math. One of my favorite papers is A mod-n Ackermann function, or what’s so special about 1969? (American Mathematical Monthly, 1993), which concerns a conjecture about the behavior of an iteration process that is true for every value of n less than 4,000,000 except for n = 1969. This provides a great lesson in not jumping to conclusions on the basis of numerical evidence. (See my curriculum vitae for a complete list of publications and other information. Also, if you have access to MathSciNet, then click here for the Math Reviews list of my papers and their reviews; and click here for the Math Reviews list of my reviews of books and papers by others.)

In addition, I am fond of mathematical puzzles and games, and I like to propose and solve mathematical problems, such as appear in the American Mathematical Monthly and Mathematics Magazine, or occur on the Putnam competition. I’m particularly proud of a problem in The Mathematical Intelligencer, about a new fundamental constant of mathematics. Here is a link to something else named after me.

Other professional activities

My teaching interests are also fairly broad, including computer science, statistics, and mathematics courses for elementary education majors, as well as the usual mathematics major and service courses at both the graduate and the undergraduate level. I must be doing a few things right, since I received Oakland University’s Teaching Excellence Award in 1992 and the 1994 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics in Michigan.

Here are slides for a general-interest talk that contains lots of interesting examples of real-life applications of mathematics, and other fun stuff.

My textbook, Discrete Mathematics: An Introduction to Concepts, Methods, and Applications (Macmillan/Prentice-Hall/Pearson, 1990), is suitable for a sophomore level course covering logic, set theory, graph theory, combinatorics, and algorithms for mathematics and computer science majors. Here is the errata list for the book.

The third part of a faculty member’s job is “service” on committees and similar duties. On this front I have served as an academic adviser, associate chair of the department, adviser for the student math club, member of the University Senate and the College of Arts and Sciences Assembly (and their Steering Committees), bargainer for our AAUP chapter, director of the state High School Visiting Lecture Program, editor of the state MAA Newsletter, member of the state high school mathematics prize competition examination committee, Governor of the Michigan Section of the MAA, member of the committee overseeing MAA’s national high school competitions (chair 2014–2020), member of the Educational Materials Committee of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics and recorder of mathematical materials for the blind and dyslexic (through RFB&D, sadly now no longer possible in Michigan), to name a few highlights. I also review research articles for Mathematical Reviews (MathSciNet), and have consulted for Ford Motor Company, Mathematical Reviews, and numerous textbook publishers. I also consult for various mathematics education projects. Recognition has included the Michigan Section MAA Distinguished Service Award in 2005 and the national MAA Certificate for Meritorious Service in 2007.


I belong to the American Mathematical Society (AMS), the Mathematical Association of America (MAA and its Michigan section), and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) and its Detroit area affiliate DACTM, and am a fellow (but not an active member) of The Institute of Combinatorics and Its Applications (ICA), but no longer the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM and its Activity Group on Discrete Mathematics).

Brief biography

I was born in St. Louis, Missouri on April 25, 1948, grew up (in the picture linked here, my brother is on your left) in Arlington, Virginia (suburban Washington, DC), attended Glencarlyn (rebuilt as Carlin Springs) and Claremont Elementary Schools and Gunston Junior High School (see also this page), and graduated from Wakefield High School in 1966 (see also this page and this one, as well as this one about my being in their Hall of Fame), where perhaps the highlight was being named one of the Westinghouse (now Intel) Science Talent Search Top 40 national finalists; attended Stanford University, earning a BS and MS in mathematics in 1970; and received a PhD in mathematics (in algebraic topology under Dan Kan*) from M.I.T. in 1974. I’ve been at Oakland University ever since. I also spent summers during college working as a mathematician at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology).

*My academic genealogy proceeds backwards from Kan through Samuel Eilenberg, Karol Borsuk, and Stefan Mazurkiewicz to Waclaw Sierpinski. Sierpinski seems to have had two academic advisors: Georgy Voronoy in fact, and Stanislaw Zaremba officially. From Voronoy the chain goes through several Russians: Andrei Markov, Pafnuty Chebyshev, and Nikolai Brashman, before ending, I am told, at the Viennese astronomer and mathematician Joseph Johann von Littrow (1781–1840). From Zaremba the chain goes through lots of other famous names, including Simeon Denis Poisson, Joseph Lagrange, Leonhard Euler, Johann Bernoulli, Jacob Bernoulli, and Gottfried Leibniz. A great web site tracks such genealogy.

My curriculum vitae (also available in TeX) contains a complete list of publications and more details on all of the above topics if you’re really interested. And if you’re hell-bent on personal stuff, here are some pictures of me at six months being held by my godfather Phil, my family (1984: me, my wife Suzanne, my sister-in-law Kathy, my brother Richard, my mother Florence holding my daughter Pamela, and my father Isadore holding my nephew Conrad), my maternal grandparents, Julius and Rebecca, taken around their wedding date (August 26, 1900), and my paternal grandparents, Samuel and Tillie (Lichtigman) Grossman, taken when they were about 23 and 20 years old, respectively (circa 1907).

I retired from Oakland University after the 2017–2018 academic year. My last semester of teaching was Fall 2017. A cute feature on me appeared in MAA Focus.

Personal information


 I live in Rochester Hills, Oakland County, Michigan
 (about 30 miles north of Detroit), within bicycling
 distance of the university, with my wife, Suzanne Zeitman, 
 and our cats, Nigel and Lena.  Sadly, Suzanne’s horse
 Abby died in 2010.  She still has Elroy.  
 See them jump here (at time 1:14 to 1:34).
 I’m allergic to horses and cats.

 The University of Michigan 
 is not far from here, and it has lots of resources.

 In my spare time I like to travel, visit zoos,
 play tournament bridge (6800 master points),
 try to get better at backgammon, shoot photographs,
 sail Siegfried (my Laser), cross-country ski,
 collect turtle art, attend conferences,
 eat, cook, drink wine, eat in nice restaurants,
 and go to good movies (or watch them at home, courtesy of netflix). 

 Also, I was trying to learn to play the piano but gave up.

 Here are some more pictures of me, Suzanne, and us on a cruise.


 This is our daughter, Pamela Jane Grossman (1984—1990).

 There is a sculpture 
 of a Galapagos tortoise
 by William (Bill) Allen 
     (works also available here, here, here, and here)
 at the Detroit Zoo 
     (sign up for their newsletter)
 in her memory.
 There is also a fund in her memory at Oakland University.

URL = https://files.oakland.edu/users/grossman/web/index.html
Last updated January 6, 2019.