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Past MAA Distinguished Lectures

Jason Rosenhouse
6:30 p.m. - November 29, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Please click here to RSVP for the lecture.

Abstract:
The hardest logic puzzle ever was introduced by philosopher George Boolos in 1996. We are to imagine three gods: one who always makes true statements, one who only makes false statements, and one who randomly answers true or false at his whim. The gods will answer any yes/no question that is put to them, but they will answer in their own language, in which the words for yes and no are da and ja, in some order. Sadly, you do not now which word means what. Your task is to determine who is who in just three questions. The puzzle has spawned a veritable industry of journal articles, in which authors present ever more ingenious solutions, and ever more fiendishly difficult variations. We will discuss the various approaches to this puzzle and its variations. Along the way we will consider aspects of the history of logic, focusing especially on puzzle masters like Lewis Carroll and Raymond Smullyan.

Biography:
Jason Rosenhouse received his PhD in mathematics from Dartmouth College in 2000, specializing in algebraic graph theory. Currently he is a professor of mathematics at James Madison University, in Harrisonburg, Virginia. He is the author or editor of seven books including The Monty Hall Problem: The Remarkable Story of Math's Most Contentious Brainteaser, and Among the Creationists: Dispatches from the Anti-Evolutionary Front Line, both published by Oxford University Press. With Laura Taalman he is the author of Taking Sudoku Seriously: The Math Behind the World's Most Popular Pencil Puzzle, which received the 2012 PROSE award from the Association of American Publishers for the best popular math or science book of the year. When not doing math he enjoys playing chess, cooking, and reading locked-room mysteries.

Ellen Peters
6:30 p.m. - October 16, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

This event is currently sold out. Please click here to get on the wait to attend the lecture.

Abstract:
Innumeracy is rampant in the United States and has been linked with worse decision-making skills and worse outcomes in health and finances. However, objective numeracy (being good at math) is not the only important factor. Beliefs in one’s numeric abilities (i.e., subjective numeracy) should have independent effects on behavioral persistence and engagement with numeric information, with subsequent effects on outcomes, but little research exists.

In today’s talk, we’ll discuss what past studies have revealed about the importance of being objectively numerate. I’ll then present the results of recent ongoing studies concerning the additional importance of subjective numeracy. Objective and subjective numeracy capture distinct psychological constructs that support different aspects of judgment and decision processes. We can measure them or manipulate them and it appears that both numeracies have effects on decision outcomes and processes.

Biography:
Ellen Peters is Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Director of the Decision Sciences Collaborative at The Ohio State University. In her research, Dr. Peters focuses on understanding the basic building blocks of human judgment and decision making. In particular, she recently has focused on how numeric and non-numeric information are processed in decisions by individuals who differ in numeric ability (also called numeracy). She is also generally interested in issues of risk perception and risk communication in health, financial, and environmental contexts, including how to present information to facilitate its comprehension and use.

Rochelle Gutiérrez
6:30 p.m. - June 20, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP for this lecture.

 

Abstract:
For far too long, we have embraced an “equity” standpoint that has been poorly defined (Gutiérrez, 2002) or constantly shifting (NCTM, 2008). It has been difficult to assess progress beyond closing the achievement gap or recruiting more diverse students into the mathematical sciences. Instead, we should rehumanize mathematics, which considers not just access and achievement, but the politics in teaching and mathematics. This approach begins with 1) acknowledging some of the dehumanizing experiences in mathematics for students and teachers and 2) how students could be provided with windows and mirrors onto the world and ways of relating to each other with dignity. I present eight dimensions of a rehumanized mathematics classroom: participation/positioning; cultures/histories; windows/mirrors; living practice; broadening maths; creation; body/emotions; and ownership. Then, I offer ways for mathematicians and mathematics educators to take risks in ensuring those dimensions happen in small and large ways. Then we can begin to think differently about student misconceptions, teachers as identity workers, and why it is not just that diverse people need mathematics but mathematics needs diverse people (Gutiérrez, 2002; 2012).

Biography:
Dr. Rochelle Gutiérrez is currently Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the College of Education at the University of Illinois. Dr. Gutiérrez' scholarship focuses on equity issues in mathematics education, paying particular attention to how race, class, and language affect teaching and learning. Through in-depth analyses of effective teaching/learning communities and longitudinal studies of developing and practicing teachers, her work challenges deficit views of students who are Latinx, Black, and/or Indigenous and suggests that mathematics teachers need to be prepared with much more than just content knowledge, pedagogical knowledge, or knowledge of diverse students if they are going to be successful.

Deanna Haunsperger
6:30 p.m. - April 26, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP for this lecture.

Abstract:
What do a square-wheeled bicycle, a 17th-century French painting, and the Indiana legislature all have in common? They appear among the many bright stars appearing in Math Horizons. Math Horizons, the undergraduate magazine started by the MAA in 1994, publishes articles to introduce students to the world of mathematics outside the classroom. Some of mathematics’ best expositors have written for MH over the years; here is an idiosyncratic tour of the early years of Horizons.

Biography:
Deanna Haunsperger is MAA president (2017-2018) and Professor of Mathematics at Carleton College, where she has been teaching for over twenty years. She earned her BA in mathematics and computer science from Simpson College and her PhD in mathematics from Northwestern University, focusing on voting theory applications to decision making.

Arthur Benjamin
6:30 p.m. - April 7, 2018

MAA Carriage House

1781 Church St. NW
Washington, D.C. 20036

Space is limited. Please click here to RSVP for this lecture.

Abstract:
Dr. Arthur Benjamin will amaze you with card tricks based on clever mathematical principles, and share the secrets with you.

Biography:
Arthur Benjamin grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and earned his B.S. at Carnegie Mellon University in 1983 and his PhD in Mathematical Sciences at Johns Hopkins University in 1989. Since then, he has been a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, in Claremont, California, where he has served as department chair, and co-Editor of Math Horizons magazine, published by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). In 2000, the MAA awarded him the Haimo Prize for Distinguished University Teaching. In 1997, he applied his mathematical talents to the game of backgammon and won the American Backgammon Tour.

Arthur Benjamin is also a professional magician, and frequently performs at the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He is the author of several books, and four DVD courses from The Great Courses series, including "The Joy of Mathematics", "The Mathematics of Games and Puzzles", and "The Secrets of Mental Math". He has demonstrated and explained his calculating talents to audiences all over the world and has appeared on numerous television and radio programs, including The Today Show, CNN, National Public Radio, and The Colbert Report. His three TED talks have been viewed over 12 million times. He has been featured in Scientific American, Omni, Discover, People, Esquire, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Reader's Digest. In 2005, Reader's Digest called him "America's Best Math Whiz." In 2017, he was given the Communications Award for Public Outreach by the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics.

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