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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 one of the federally 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.

Support for this MAA program is provided by the National Security Agency (grant H98230-16-1-0060).

Upcoming Lectures


  Eitan Grinspun
  6:30 PM - March 1, 2017

  MAA Carriage House
  1781 Church St. NW
  Washington, D.C. 20036

  RSVP for the lecture here!


Abstract: Blockbuster films have amazing visual effects. Virtual stunt doubles, animated characters, and imaginary creatures are built from mathematical models of hair, fur, skin, and clothing. Explosions, floods, and disasters that would be dangerous if not impossible to film in real life are instead simulated on computers using mathematical models of fracture, fire, granular media, and liquids. This is the world of applied mathematics with an artistic flair. In this talk aimed at the general audience, I will expose various aspects of movie magic, and the exciting mathematical questions that arise.

Biography: Eitan Grinspun is Associate Professor of Computer Science and Applied Mathematics at Columbia University in the City of New York, and Co-Director of the Columbia Computer Graphics Group. He was Professeur d'Université Invité at l'Université Pierre et Marie Curie in Paris in 2009, a Research Scientist at the Courant Institute from 2003-2004, a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology from 1997-2003, and an undergraduate in Engineering Science at the University of Toronto from 1993-1997. He was named an NVIDIA Fellow in 2001, Everhart Distinguished Lecturer in 2003, NSF CAREER Awardee in 2007, Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow in 2010-2012, one of Popular Science magazine's "Brilliant Ten Scientists" in 2011, and one of Fast Company magazine's "Most Creative People in Business" in 2013. Technologies developed by his lab are used in products such as Adobe Photoshop & Illustrator, at major film studios and recent films such as Moana, and in basic condensed matter and engineering research. He has been profiled in The New York Times, Scientific American, New Scientist, and mentioned in Variety. His recent film credits include The Hobbit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and Steven Spielberg's The Adventures of Tintin.