Agency (USA), the College of Liberal Arts and the Department of Mathematics
of Arizona State University, the Association for Women in Mathematics (USA)
and the various individuals who contributed from their personal grants, for their
generous financial and technical support. We would also like to thank the ref-
erees for their invaluable time and effort in reviewing the papers submitted to
these Proceedings. A special thanks also goes to Linda Arneson (A.S.U.) for her
willingness and diligence in "Aft;tS-'IEXing" a few of the papers. As a final note
we are reproducing the welcoming address of the conference, given by Professor
Miriam Cohen, President of the Israel Mathematical Union.
"Most mathematicians of this day, confronted with an argument requiring
combinatorial thinking react with one of two stock phrases: (a) This is a purely
combinatorial argument or (b) This is a difficult combinatorial argument. Hyp-
notic repetition of either slogan is likely to have the same effect on the speaker.
Free from all scruples, he will pass the buck and unload the work onto someone
else's shoulders". These words of Carlo Rota's forward to the book of Berge,
"Principles of Combinatorics" written over 20 years ago are still valid. On be-
half of the Israel Math Union I am very happy to greet you people to whom the
buck is being passed. Rota's words show how much combinatorics, whose origin
is in simply phrased questions, is essential in Mathematics and other sciences.
From its critical use in probability and computer sciences to Herman Weyl's fa-
mous connection between Young tableaux and representations of GL(n, IR) and
its recent successors (developed mainly by the Russian school): the braid groups,
Yang Baxter equations, integrable systems and the like. Talking about the east-
ern block, and looking around this room, we see the effect of recent events. Our
meetings and conferences in the academic world are a completely new experi-
ence. Colleagues that we have only read about are now free citizens of the world.
Maybe more than in other academic societies in the West, Israel is faced with
an extremely large and inspiring immigration. However, the great enthusiasm is
accompanied with a fear that so many excellent scientists will not find suitable
employment. The Israeli mathematical community is taking an unusually active
role at finding solutions. It gives me a special pleasure to see here someone from
the former eastern block who has always been a free spirit, Mr. Combinatorics
himself, Prof. Erdos, whose mathematical contributions go much beyond com-
binatorics. The Israeli mathematical community is particularly indebted to him
for establishing with the Israeli Mathematical Union a fund that awards the so
called Erdos prize to outstanding Israeli young mathematicians. Noga Alon and
Gil Kalai, two of the organizers of this conference, are amongst the winners of
this prize. I always wondered where the fund money came from. I conjecture
it consists of the money saved by having Prof. Erdos's conjectures unsolved. In
conclusion, I wish you an inspiring conference and a good stay in our special and
beloved city, Jerusalem."
Helene Barcelo
Gil Kalai
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