Robert L. Devaney, Boston University
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Abstract: We will describe some of the beautiful images that arise from the "Chaos Game." We will show how the simple steps of this game produce, when iterated millions of times, the intricate images known as fractals. We will describe some of the applications of this technique used in data compression as well as in Hollywood. We will also challenge members of the audience to "Beat the Professor" at the chaos game and perhaps win his computer.
Biography: Robert L. Devaney is currently Professor of Mathematics at Boston University and President-Elect of the Mathematical Association of America. He received his undergraduate degree from the College of the Holy Cross in 1969 and his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1973 under the direction of Stephen Smale. He taught at Northwestern University and Tufts University before coming to Boston University in 1980.
His main area of research is dynamical systems, primarily complex analytic dynamics, but also including more general ideas about chaotic dynamical systems. Lately, he has become intrigued with the incredibly rich topological aspects of dynamics, including such things as indecomposable continua, Sierpinski curves, and Cantor bouquets.
He is the author of over one hundred research papers in the field of dynamical systems as well as a dozen pedagogical papers in this field. He is also the (co)-author or editor of fourteen books in this area of mathematics.
In 1994 he received the Award for Distinguished University Teaching from the Northeastern section of the MAA and in 1995 he was the recipient of the MAA Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished University Teaching. In 2005 he received the Trevor Evans Award from the MAA for an article entitled Chaos Rules published in Math Horizons.
In 1996 he was awarded the Boston University Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award. In 2002 he received the National Science Foundation Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars. In 2002 he also received the ICTCM Award for Excellence and Innovation with the Use of Technology in Collegiate Mathematics. In 2003 he was the recipient of Boston University's Metcalf Award for Teaching Excellence. In 2004 he was named the Carnegie/CASE Massachusetts Professor of the Year. In 2009 he was inducted into the Massachusetts Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame. And in 2010 he was named the Feld Family Professor of Teaching Excellence at Boston University.