Preface This volume consists of expanded versions of talks given at The Beemfest: Advances in Differential Geometry and General Relativity that took place at the Univeristy of Missouri-Columbia on May 10 and 11, 2003 on the occassion of Pro- fessor John K. Beem's retirement after more than 34 years of research, teaching, and service. The meeting was sponsered by the Department of Mathematics of the Univeristy of Missouri-Columbia. John Beem was born in Detroit in 1942. He went to school there and in Gar- dena, CA, a suburb of Los Angeles. He "always felt appreciative of the mathematics background he had going into college." College was the University of Southern Cal- ifornia, where he also did his graduate work, getting married to his high-school classmate Eloise Yamamoto during his first year of graduate work. His dissertation was with Herbert Busemann who had noticed John enough during an undergrad- uate geometry class to make sure that John stayed at USC. Busemann had spent many years working on a synthetic approach to differential geometry that he called G-spaces. and several physicists had asked Busemann how his methods would apply to relativity. It was at that point that John, already interested in physics, started as his student. John's first publication was with Busemann, who, in his usual di- rectness, made it clear to John that none of what was in their joint paper could go into his dissertation. John remembers Busemann as a dynamic teacher and advisor, holding weekly meetings with advanced graduate students and visiting geometers at his home to give them new problems and get progress updates. Already keen on teaching methods, John remembers Busemann's style: "You look at the brightest people in the class. If they follow what you are doing, you speed up the pace of the course." John arrived at the Department of Mathematics of the University of Missouri immediately after his Ph.D. in the Fall of 1968 to join the geometers Leonard Blumenthal and Clinton Petty, an earlier Busemann student. It was the beginning of what John now describes as a "35 plus year cycle of bad job markets in the academic world," and John was thinking that he would stay for a couple of years. He stayed for 34 and a half years. In reviewing his years at MU, he singles out the "incredible development of the Department of Mathematics" to reach "levels of research that make us all proud," and the improvement in the quality of students through a series of very gradual but consistent increases in entrance requirements on the undergraduate level and by successful recruiting efforts on the graduate level. The highlights of his research are hopefully somewhat captured by the contents of this volume. They include the publication of his dissertation results as an AMS Memoir with Peter Y. Woo in 1969, the first edition of the "Global Lorentzian Geometry" with Paul Ehrlich in 1981, its expanded second edition with Paul Ehrlich ix

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