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December 10, 2019

Ralph McKenzie Awarded Honorary Doctorate

Ralph McKenzie accepting the honorary doctorate from the University of Szeged

Distinguished Professor Ralph McKenzie was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Szeged in Hungary in recognition of the influence his mathematical work has had at the university. The Doctor Honoris Causa was conferred at a Ceremonial Senate Session marking the university’s annual Day of the University celebration on November 9, 2019.

McKenzie is widely recognized for his achievements in the field of universal algebra. He has obtained a number of seminal results in logic, algebra, lattice theory, and in the study of the algorithmic complexity of various problems in computer science. One of his most significant achievements is the discovery and development of tame congruence theory, which continues to serve as a primary tool for significant results in universal algebra.

“The five ‘local behaviors’ he has discovered connect classical algebra with general algebraic systems and various branches of theoretical computer science,” said Dr. László Mucsi, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences and Informatics, University of Szeged. “By applying these tools, several mathematicians at the University of Szeged have obtained significant results.”

Among those mathematicians are McKenzie’s former graduate student Miklós Maróti, who is chair of the Department of Algebra and Number Theory at the university’s Bolyai Institute. Other researchers there have also published papers whose results rely on McKenzie’s work. In addition, three courses in the doctoral program of mathematics are based largely on his monographs.

McKenzie received his Ph.D. at the University of Colorado under the guidance of Don Monk. In the field of universal algebra, he is widely recognized as one of the most influential contributors of the last 50 years. A profile of his career and achievements can be found in the Spring 2015 issue of Spectrum, the Department of Mathematics newsletter.