About the Project
About the Project

Richard A. Askey

Photograph of Richard A. Askey

Richard A. Askey (b. 1933 in St. Louis, Missouri, d. 2019) was Professor Emeritus in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He joined the department as an assistant professor in 1963. He became a full professor there in 1968 and retired as the John Bascom Professor of Mathematics in 2003.

Askey received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1961 under the direction of Samuel Bochner. Over his career his primary research areas were in Special Functions and Orthogonal Polynomials, but also included other topics from Classical Analysis and related areas. His well-known book Special Functions (with G. E. Andrews and R. Roy), a standard text on the topic, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1999. One of his most influential papers Some basic hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials that generalize Jacobi polynomials (with J. Wilson), introduced the Askey-Wilson polynomials. Published in 1985 in the Memoirs of the American Mathematical Society, it also introduced the directed graph of hypergeometric orthogonal polynomials commonly known as the Askey scheme. Another significant contribution was the Askey-Gasper inequality for Jacobi polynomials which was published in Positive Jacobi polynomial sums. II (with G. Gasper) in 1976. This inequality was a key element of Louis de Branges’ proof of the Bieberbach conjecture in 1985.

Additional books for which Askey served as author or editor include Orthogonal Polynomials and Special Functions, published by SIAM in 1975, Theory and application of special functions, published by Academic Press in 1975, Special Functions: Group Theoretical Aspects and Applications (with T. H. Koornwinder and W. Schempp), published by Reidel Publishing Company in 1984, Ramanujan Revisited (with G. E. Andrews, B. C. Berndt, and R. A. Rankin), published by Academic Press in 1988.

Askey was elected Honorary Fellow of the Indian Academy of Sciences in 1988, Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1993, and Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 1999. He was elected Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) in 2009 and Fellow of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) in 2012. Askey was presented a Lifetime Achievement Award in Recognition and Appreciation for his Outstanding Work and Leadership in the Field of Special Functions at the International Symposium on Orthogonal Polynomials, Special Functions and Applications in Hagenberg, Austria on July 24, 2019.

Askey was a member of the original editorial committee for the DLMF project, serving as an Associate Editor advising on all aspects of the project from the mid-1990’s to the mid-2010’s when the organizational structure of the DLMF project was reconstituted; see About the Project.