Mathematical Essays in honor of Gian-Carlo Rota
In April of 1996 an array of mathematicians converged on Cambridge, Massachusetts, for the Rotafest and Umbral Calculus Workshop, two con ferences celebrating Gian-Carlo Rota's 64th birthday. It seemed appropriate when feting one of the world's great combinatorialists to have the anniversary be a power of 2 rather than the more mundane 65. The over seventy-five par ticipants included Rota's doctoral students, coauthors, and other colleagues from more than a dozen countries. As a further testament to the breadth and depth of his influence, the lectures ranged over a wide variety of topics from invariant theory to algebraic topology. This volume is a collection of articles written in Rota's honor. Some of them were presented at the Rotafest and Umbral Workshop while others were written especially for this Festschrift. We will say a little about each paper and point out how they are connected with the mathematical contributions of Rota himself.