Personal Information

After many years away from the mathematics academy I chose to return in the fall of 2003 to the University of Oslo to complete a Ph.D. degree I once had begun. I had been an undergraduate at Princeton University, and continued into the Ph.D. program there under the tutelage of Professor William Feller, studying probability. At the University of Oslo I studied under the able leadership of Professor Fred Espen Benth in the Stochastic Analysis Group. My secondary advisers were Professors Bernt Øksendal and Frank N. Proske. Web pages for Professors Benth and Øksendal are located respectively here. Fred Espen Benth. Bernt Øksendal.

I am an amateur mathematician, in contrast to all of my cohorts, who are professionals. I enjoy the independence this status provides, and correspondingly take my research and study seriously. I am the only person without a formal academic position affiliated with the Centre of Mathematics for Applications and with Statistics for Innovation, both administered by the Research Council of Norway.

Academic Genealogy

It is interesting to note one’s mathematics genealogy in the sense of his advisers’ going back to their advisers, etc. As just about every European traces his ancestry back to Charlemagne, I have some luminaries in my discipline in my own background. I would like to say that the teachings of all of them have influenced me to some extent, but it is difficult to say exactly how, except, of course, for those of my immediate relation. Here is a list of these men — yes, all men — who paved the way for me. I give the ancestors of Profs. Feller, Øksendal, and Proske in this table. Prof. Benth studied with Prof. Jürgen Potthoff and also with Prof. Øksendal, so shares that lineage with me. Mathematics Genealogy.

I compiled these lists using the resources of the Mathematics Genealogy Project of the American Mathematical Association, developed and maintained by the Mathematics Department at North Dakota State University. The Project’s site is here. The Mathematics Genealogy Project. (A button link to the home page of this Project is in the sidebar.) An excellent biography of Prof. Feller by Darko Zubrinic of Croatia with further links appears here. Feller Biography. As well, I relate some of my doings over the years in my “Professional Profile,” in this narrative. Professional Profile.

Our Wedding

I am married to Bente Wetaas Kettler, a Norwegian, from June 21, 2003, in St. Olav’s Cathedral, Oslo. A column on our wedding appeared in The Oslo Times: Wetaas–Kettler Wedding. We enjoy traveling, music, long walks in the nature, and the simpler pleasures of life. Here we are on holiday in Connemara National Park, Co. Galway, Ireland, at Easter 2004. The photograph is by Fr. Jon Atle Wetaas, Bente’s brother, who was enjoying the holiday with us. Speaking of lineage, Bente is a genuine Viking Princess, tracing her ancestry back to Harald Halfdansson, also known as Harald Fairhair, the first King of Norway.

Expert Consultant and Witness Matters

In the late 1980’s I served on a total of 10 legal matters as an expert consultant and witness. In two of these matters I represented the claimant, in all others the respondent or defendant.

At this link is a list of these matters.
Expert Consultant and Witness Matters

Ph.D. Disputation and Award Ceremony

On 4 June 2007 I successfully defended my dissertation for the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics at the University of Oslo. This was a wonderful day in all respects for my wife Bente and me, culminating years of dedicated work and preparation. I thank all who helped me along the way, especially my advisory team of Fred Espen Benth (primary,) Bernt Øksendal, and Frank N. Proske. Without the concerted efforts of each of them I could not have achieved this goal. Following are links to my dissertation (this updated version with full color graphics and corrections of minor typographical errors) and to the slide presentations for my trial lecture in the morning and my disputation presentation in the afternoon.

On 20 September 2007 I received my diploma for the Ph.D. degree in Mathematics at the University of Oslo from its Rector, Prof. Geir Ellingsrud. The ceremony was beautiful, in the University Aula with world famous murals by Edvard Munch. Music of Edvard Grieg and Rikard Nordraak complemented the ceremony exquisitely. Family from Sequim, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula west of Seattle, along with my wife Bente’s brother Atle and special friends from Oslo, joined Bente and me for the event.

Awards and Honors

  • Prix d’Honneur des Concours National de Français
  • Louis B. Seltzer Award for Mathematics
  • National Honor Society, Chapter President
  • Election to Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society
  • Recipient, United States Steel Foundation Scholarship
  • Recipient, Ford Foundation Scholarship
  • Recipient, National Defense Education Act Scholarship

Fun and Games

Here’s a little something for recreation. First, I give you a few ‘Teasers,’ then the ‘Answers.’ Be sure to give them all a good try before peeking. Teasers, Teasers (with Answers). And when you are done with those, here are four more: The “13” factor problem, Solution to “The ’13’ factor problem”, Paying the lawyers, Solution to “Paying the lawyers”, Polygon Edges, and Reciprocal ownership.

Next I give you a card trick, with explanation. This trick, a good one, was performed on me with great relish and enthusiasm by a wonderful friend of my wife Bente and me, Lester Raad, living in a retirement home in Sarasota, Florida, with his wife of many years, Phyllis. Sadly, Lester has died in recent times, but his great sense of humor lives on. Try this on your friends. You might even win a bar bet with it. I called it the “Panhandle Fooler,” because Lester and Phyllis used to live in the Panhandle region of Texas. Sarasota Lester’s Panhandle Fooler

Lastly, I offer the product of my one and only foray into organic chemistry research. I would appreciate your comments — constructive only, please. No jokes. The effect, etc.

Extraterrestrial Life

In May of 1961 I wrote a serious piece about the possibility of extraterrestrial life for an Astronomy course as an undergraduate at Princeton. Here it is, for you to compare with modern thinking on the subject. Is there life in outer space?


I cannot respond to an offer I have not heard. Spoken in a private meeting when he was Chairman of the Search Committee for a new Dean of the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago. I had asked him if he were offered the job would he take it. He was offered, and did take, the job.

— Sidney Davidson

Simulation is no substitute for good analysis. Maxim of distinguished expert in each, Professor (Emeritus), Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.

— Linus Schrage

There is too much structure and not enough content. Spoken in a private meeting in response to my comment on my then current research interests: “I’m working on the structure of this, the structure of that, etc.” At the time Tom was a friend and junior faculty member at the Graduate School of Business, University of Chicago.

— Tom Morton

Spend no time with people you do not like.

— Paul Carlisle Kettler
(Best advice I ever gave myself)

Victory at all cost,
Victory in spite of terror,
Victory no matter how long and hard the road may be,
For without victory there is no survival.

— Winston Churchill

If you want to improve your game, play with the best.

— Anonymous

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace…

— Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Yes. Answer to my question, “Will you marry me?” Best answer I ever heard.

— Bente Marit Katharina Wetaas