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MAA Distinguished Lecture Series

The MAA sponsors a variety of public lectures, many of them held at the MAA Carriage House. Whether a Gathering 4 Gardner event or part of the NSA-funded Distinguished Lecture Series, the lectures feature some of the foremost experts within the field of mathematics, known for their ability to make current mathematical ideas accessible to non-specialists. The presentations provide a fabulous and fun learning opportunity for both professionals and students, as well as anyone interested in learning more about current trends in mathematics and the relationship between mathematics and broader scientific, engineering and technological endeavors.

Abstracts and speaker biographies will appear on this page as lectures are added to the events calendar.

Slidecasts and video clips of MAA public lectures are available here.

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Douglas N. Arnold
6:30 PM - October 29, 2015

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Abstract: Mathematics is everywhere, and the golf course is no exception. Many aspects of the game of golf can be illuminated or improved through mathematical modeling and analysis. We will discuss a few examples, employing mathematics ranging from simple high school algebra to computational techniques at the frontiers of contemporary research.

Biography: Douglas N. Arnold is the McKnight Presidential Professor of Mathematics at the University of Minnesota. He is a research mathematician and educator specializing in computational mathematics. He also has a strong interest in mathematics in interdisciplinary research and in the public understanding of the role of mathematics.

Arnold's research interests include numerical analysis, partial differential equations, mechanics, and in particular, the interplay between these fields. From 2001 through 2008, he served as director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications. Under his leadership, this interdisciplinary mathematical research institute grew to be the largest mathematics research investment in the history of the National Science Foundation.

Arnold received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Chicago and in the following years served on the faculty of the University of Maryland and Penn State University before moving to the University of Minnesota and assuming the position of Director at the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications.

Among Arnold's priorities are efforts to increase public understanding of mathematics and its role in society, and he is frequently cited in print and broadcast media. In 2007 he coauthored an award winning video, Möbius Transformations Revealed, which went viral on YouTube, garnering about two million views.

Thomas Hull
6:30 PM - November 10, 2015

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St.
Washington, D.C. 20036

Abstract: Origami, the art of paper folding, has been practiced in Japan and all over the world for centuries. The past decade, however, has witnessed a surge of interest in using origami for science. Applications in robotics, airbag design, deployment of space structures, and even medicine and bioengineering are appearing in the popular science press. Videos of origami robots folding themselves up and walking away or performing tasks have gone viral in recent years. But if the art of paper folding is so old, why has there been an increase in origami applications now? One answer is because of mathematics. Advances in our understanding of how folding processes work has arisen due to success in modeling origami mathematically. In this presentation we will explore why origami lends itself to mathematical study and see some of the math that has allowed applications to become so fruitful.

Biography: Thomas Hull, an Associate Professor of mathematics at Western New England University, is considered a leading expert on origami mathematics as well as an accomplished paper folder. He has written origami instruction books, numerous origami-math research papers, and authored Project Origami (AK Peters/CRC Press), a book on incorporating the mathematics of paper folding into college-level math classes. He received his Ph.D. in graph theory from the University of Rhode Island, and his research papers on origami-math were helpful in generating interest in the subject during the 1990s. He has been invited to speak on origami-math to audiences all over the USA as well as Japan, Puerto Rico, and Europe. His most popular origami creations are the PHiZZ unit, which has infected the fingers of procrastinators world-wide, and the Five Intersecting Tetrahedra model, which was voted by the British Origami Society as one of the top 10 origami models of all-time. Visit his web page at