College of Natural & Agricultural Sciences

Dr. Larry Harper sketch by Dr. John de Pillis
Illustration by Dr. John de Pillis


Remembering Dr. Larry Harper

Share your memories of Dr. Harper


  • From the earliest days decades ago at UCR, one could not miss the pleasure of Larry’s easy personal manner combined with his sharp professional skill.skills. Larry, a unique individual, is sorely missed. - Dr. John de Pillis
  • Larry Harper had a passion for doing mathematical research, in particular in the field of Combinatorics. I'm deeply grateful to him for inculcating to me part of his passion for doing research. I would miss a mentor and a friend. - Josep Diaz

  • Dr. Harper gave a talk several years ago in one of Dr. Lapidus' seminars that I was fortunate enough to attend. Though the details are fuzzy to me now, he gave a very engaging talk and was incredibly friendly with myself and any other graduate students who had questions. He is absence will be felt deeply in our community. - James Alcala

  • I've known Larry for over 30 years. There are a few stories but two stand out. The first is hanging out at the reception at a math conference in Boca Raton "The Southeast Conference in Combinatorics". Roger Entringer (my thesis advisor) saw me and came to chat. I introduced him to Larry and Roger asked whether he was the same Harper from the asymptotic of Stirling Numbers and Larry said yes. The Roger look at him (Larry was in his early 50s at the time) and said, "funny, but I thought you were older." Larry laughed and said that he was lucky to get that result in his 20s.

    The other story is lunch with Howard G Tucker at UC Irvine some decade or so ago. Howard looked at me and said "you know, I remember when his mother was pregnant with him..." That made him laugh. Larry parents were high school gym teachers in Hammett where both Howard and Larry grew up.

    When we met in 1989 or early 1990, we had lunch and Larry asked me what I was working on. Told him I was stuck on a problem. I described it to him and no more than a week later he (Larry) came up with a counter example. It didn't occurred to me that I was barking the wrong tree and he helped me get straight on the matter. The counter example was sent as a hand-written letter which I probably still have in my files.
    - Joseph Barr

  • Larry Harper was a kind and generous person to me when I was an extension student at UCR in 2013-2014. I was just beginning my foray into mathematics research, and he very kindly worked with me on a project in Phyllotaxis. He became an unofficial mentor for me while I was there and afterwards. He was both a brilliant and caring person, and I will miss him deeply. The world is reduced in his absence. - Gregory Huey

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