January 2000 Issue


Today's Editors: Dan Kalman and Jane Heckler

In this Issue.....
Joint Math Meetings
Master of us All
Cute Triangle Puzzle


Happy new year to all liaisons. Your receipt of this newsletter is an indication that the internet and email are still working in the aftermath of the Y2K roll-over. I am grateful that we were spared the kind of wide spread disruptions and breakdowns that we were assured would occur if appropriate fixes were not in place. It is no surprise that we are now getting a flood of articles about the significance of the non-problems. For example, according to a front page article in this morning's Washington Post (1/6/2000), there is some feeling abroad that the whole Y2K scare was a scam designed to enrich US software companies. (The article can be found on line at -- search for a news article with keyword "Y2K Fix".) In our own MAA FOCUS Newsletter for January, there is an article about Y2K by Underwood Dudley. And last November's Math Horizons has an interesting piece about Y2K as well.

Of course, there is still no end to the debate about whether we have truly begun a new century and millenium. Mathematically, if a century is defined as a time interval of length 100, then a new one begins with each passing instant, so the answer is yes, unquestionably, a new century and millenium started at the stroke of midnight, as 1/1/2000 arrivcd. But that is an explanation that is certain to satisfy no one!

Joint Math Meetings

Each year, the timing of the January MAA/AMS meetings shifts around a bit, out of respect for variations in academic calendars across the nation. This year's meeting is fairly late in January, so we decided to send out the January newsletter before the meeting. The meetings this year will be special -- SIAM is joining us -- in honor of Y2K, and taking place right here in Washington, D.C. We are looking forward to seeing many Liaisons at the meeting. If you are going to be here, please be sure to attend the Liaisons breakfast Thursday, January 20, 7-8:30 a.m. in the Empire Room of the Omni Shoreham Hotel. Also that day, plan to stop by the MAA national headquarters for an open house, noon - 3 pm.

Master of us All (contributed by Dan Kalman)

I just finished reading William Dunham's "Euler, the Master of Us All" and wish to report that it is a marvelous book. The exposition is superb, the mathematics intriguing but very accessible, and the picture that emerges of Euler is truly awe inspiring. This would be a terrific book for advanced undergraduates, too. For a review of the book, see

Cute Triangle Puzzle

Want to see a beautiful rendering of an old familiar paradox? Check out (the home page of a computer science grad student named Manu Thambi). Scroll to the bottom of the page to see a triangle decomposed into four pieces, and then reassembled into the same triangle, but with one square missing. As we all know, a picture is worth a thousand words, but sometimes those words cannot be trusted!

February 1: Section Teaching Awards due to Martha Siegel
Feburary 17-22: AAAS Meeting, Washington, DC
June 30: Deadline for student papers for Mathfest 2000
(contact Charles Diminnie at

The Liaisons Newsletter is produced at the headquarters office of the MAA. Comments, suggestions, and questions are welcome. Please direct them to any of the following:

Jane Heckler
Senior Assistant for Programs

Maureen Callanan
Assistant for Programs

Dan Kalman
Member, Committee on MAA/Departmental Liaisons

John Petro
Chair, Committee on MAA/Departmental Liaisons

The Mathematical Association of America
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Dan Kalman
Department of Mathematics and Statistics
American University
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Washington, DC 20016-8050
Voice: (202) 885 - 3122
FAX: (202) 885 - 3155