Don's After-Dinner Speech

I will be quick.

This meeting is an unexpected pleasure. Since I retired several years ago, I haven't attended any meetings. In fact, I haven't even been invited to any meetings. But this one was a guaranteed invite. So I do want to thank Jeff Bergen, Bill Chin and Stefan Catoiu for organizing this weekends festivities. Of course, two of these organizers are my students and Jeff should have been, but he went to the wrong school. Now the powers that be think that the main function of these meetings is to spread mathematical knowledge. But we know better. It is really about socializing. In that regard I have to say how happy I am to see so many of my old friends here, and some of my younger friends also. I especially appreciate seeing some of my coauthors, much abused by me, but really people who have made doing mathematics such a pleasure for me.

So what is happening with the Passmans? I am still working a bit. My mind is fine but I allow my laziness to kick in more than in the past. Marj and I are still enjoying life. We have been married for 52 years so far and have expanded our horizons, doing a lot more traveling. For example, as you may know, it gets cold in Madison over the winter. So we now spend half a year in San Diego, the cold half. Of course, ring theory is alive and well in San Diego, so it is a great place for me. On the other hand, Marj always attracts friends wherever she is, so it is a great place for her too.

Now I have to say that I didn't understand this birthday business. I thought, if you were lucky, you got a birthday party and then it was done. But now I see that you are supposed to get one every ten years. So I have already started planning my next one, presumably to be held in 2025, location still somewhat up in the air. My main hope is that everyone here today will remain healthy and be able to attend the next affair. But I have plans to somewhat increase the attendance and for this I need your help. If you know someone who is very smart, an expert in group theory and ring theory, and possibly comfortable in geometric methods and homological algebra, please suggest one of these problems to them. Determine which infinite groups have group algebras that are domains (the zero divisor problem), or Noetherian (the Noetherian problem) or semiprimitive (the Jacobson radical problem). There is no need to panic, they have ten years to work on these and they don't have to solve all three. Even if they solve only one of the three, I can probably arrange for them to be invited to "Passman 2025", and perhaps to even speak on their work. All kidding aside, wouldn't it be wonderful to see some of these outstanding problems finally get solved in our lifetime.

Thank you all for coming. It's been great seeing you again.