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Richard G. Larson

May 16, 1940 September 15, 2019
Richard G. Larson
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Obituary for Richard G. Larson

Richard Larson, longtime resident of Oak Park passed away on September 15, 2019.
Richard Larson was a mathematician and computer scientist who spent most of his career as a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He received his PhD in Mathematics from the University of Chicago in 1965, spent two years as a faculty member at MIT, and joined UIC in 1967. Dr. Larson spent almost 40 years at the university, becoming an emeritus professor in 2006. He was a Fulbright Lecturer in the Philippines in 1978.

When Richard came to Chicago, he joined the Department of Mathematics at what was then called the University of Illinois at Chicago Circle (UICC). In 1982, UICC merged with the nearby medical school campuses to become the University of Illinois at Chicago.

His field of study was an area of abstract algebra called Hopf algebras. After spending a sabbatical at the University of California in Berkeley in 1987-1988, he became interested in how Hopf algebras could be used to provide insights into different areas of applied mathematics and computer science, including control theory. Working with a colleague during his sabbatical, he defined an algebra on a type of graph called trees that became known as the Grossman-Larson algebra and turned out to be useful for physicists doing computations in quantum field theory.

Dr. Larson was an early advocate for computer science, published several research papers in computer science, and taught many of the mathematical computer science courses offered by the department. He was also active in the late 80's in outreach to local high schools, teaching courses for teachers at the schools - particularly related to computer science.

He enjoyed bicycling and would sometimes commute via bicycle from his home in Oak Park to work at UIC, at a time when this was very unusual.
He was preceded in death by his wife Roberta “Bobbie” Raymond and is survived by his step sons Charles Raymond and Bruce, Phillip and Gordon Hay and many friends.

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