Biographical Sketch of Tom Vincent

Thomas L. Vincent was a game theorist worthy of special accolades. Tom was always a gentle, accessible, and compassionate human being. As a scientist, he was open-minded, fearless, careful, and humble – an unusual combination of strategies. Tom cultivated teams and collegiality; he organized and hosted many meetings among participants spanning diverse disciplines, career levels, and backgrounds. Sharing, networking and scientific selflessness was his hallmark. Tom had the mind of an engineer: careful, inquisitive, organized, curious, and eager to solve problems. He was also an idealist, and a naturalist, a lover of nature who thrived on outdoor activities. It was natural for Tom to apply control theory to diverse aspects of engineering and then see many of the same applications when he first took up questions in ecology. His very first peer-reviewed publication in 1961 was ‘Satellite life duration’. By 1974, both aerospace and ecology inspired his work, with papers such as ‘Some aspects of collision avoidance’ and ‘Optimal control of a predator-prey system’. Ron Pulliam, Bean San Goh, George Leitmann, and others shared in a series of good ideas and applications. From the 1980s onward, Tom devoted much of his energy to expanding, refining, and understanding evolutionary games. Most recently, in collaboration with Robert Gatenby and others, Tom devoted his expertise in game theory to placing cancer within an evolutionary ecology framework. As if anticipating the need to apply his talents to this scourge, Tom wrote a paper in 1977 entitled ‘Optimal control analysis in the chemotherapy of IgG multiple myeloma’.

Tom’s open-mindedness and fearlessness not only allowed him to cross disciplines in search of solutions to interesting problems; it allowed him to cross cultures. From the ‘Iron Curtain’ to the ‘Bamboo Curtain’, the Middle East to western Australia to southern Africa, Tom’s quest for people with stimulating ideas was never stopped by cultural differences or even FBI ‘debriefings’. He also had no fear of making somewhat obscure jokes and you may find a few if you read his books. Tom was also very careful, a good trait if you aim to combine open-mindedness with being a good mathematician. Finally, Tom was also humble. He collaborated successfully with all manner of personalities. Most of his professional publications have been collaborations, and not with just a few people. His collaborators number some 40 people, most of whom became close friends. Tom expressed his indebtedness to his co-authors of many publications, and noted that these individuals made his professional life fun and interesting. Tom’s special mix of strategies brought him a great deal of renown, respect, and regard among those who knew him.