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Past MAA Distinguished Lectures

David Richeson
6:30 p.m. - October 26, 2017

MAA Carriage House

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

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

Abstract: "Nothing is impossible!" It is comforting to believe this greeting card sentiment; it is the American dream. Yet there are impossible things, and it is possible to prove that they are so. In this talk we will look at some of the most famous impossibility theorems—the so-called "problems of antiquity." The ancient Greek geometers and future generations of mathematicians tried and failed to square circles, trisect angles, double cubes, and construct regular polygons using only a compass and straightedge. It took two thousand years to prove conclusively that all four of these are mathematically impossible.

Biography: Dave Richeson is Professor of Mathematics at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and the editor of Math Horizons, a magazine published by the Mathematical Association of America. Dave received the MAA's Euler Book Prize for his book, Euler’s Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology.

Keith Devlin
6:30 p.m. - October 12, 2017

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: In 2001, Stanford mathematician Keith Devlin set out to research the life and legacy of the thirteenth-century mathematician Leonardo of Pisa, popularly known as Fibonacci. Leonardo introduced the Hindu-Arabic numeral system and arithmetic to the Western world, and thereby helped start a global, social and economic revolution. Devlin recounted Leonardo's story in a 2011 book titled The Man of Numbers: Fibonacci’s Arithmetic Revolution. His new book, Finding Fibonacci is a first-hand account of his experiences in uncovering the story, reconstructed from his project diary and notes, together with stories of three other contemporary scholars who were also motivated to find out about the long-forgotten medieval mathematician who did so much create the world we live in.

Biography: Keith Devlin is a mathematician at Stanford University, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He has written 33 books and over 80 published research articles. Honors include the Pythagoras Prize, the Peano Prize and the Carl Sagan Award. He writes a monthly blog for the MAA titled Devlin’s Angle, and he is "the math guy" on National Public Radio.

Richard Rusczyk
6:30 p.m. - September 7, 2017

MAA Carriage House

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

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

Abstract: Art of Problem Solving founder, Richard Rusczyk, will deliver an exciting talk about math, problem solving, and education in the 21st Century. More specifically, this will be a TED-style presentation, which will center on the importance of a problem solving-centric math curriculum and how it can help our youth prepare for the rigors of top-tier universities and internationally-competitive careers.

Biography: Art of Problem Solving was founded by Richard Rusczyk in 2003 to create interactive educational opportunities for avid math students. Richard is the author or a co-author of 7 AoPS textbooks and a past Director of the USA Mathematical Talent Search. He was a participant in National MATHCOUNTS, a three-time participant in the Math Olympiad Summer Program, and a USA Mathematical Olympiad winner (1989). He received the World Federation of National Mathematics Competitions Paul Erdös Award in 2014. He graduated from Princeton University in 1993, and worked as a bond trader for D.E. Shaw & Company for four years. AoPS marks Richard's return to his vocation - educating motivated students.

  Eitan Grinspun
  6:30 PM - March 1, 2017

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

  

 

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.

If you want to read more about Eitan Grinspun's lecture, click here.

If you want to watch a video summary of Eitan Grinspun's lecture, click here.


  Fred Rickey
  6:30 PM - February 22, 2017

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

 

 

Abstract: Most of us are aware that our first president was a surveyor in his younger days, but how did he learn that lucrative trade? Fortunately we can give an informed answer to this question as he compiled two notebooks - cyphering books - as a teenager that show what he learned about geometry, decimal arithmetic, and surveying. Although available for decades this material has never been carefully studied. We shall present a sampling of the arithmetic and geometry that Washington studied and then concentrate on how surveying was done in seventeenth century Virginia. We will describe what the surveyor did in the field and how the final plats were prepared. This illustrated presentation will appeal to a wide audience.

Biography: Fred Rickey is a historian of mathematics who began his mathematical life as a logician. After 43 years of teaching at Bowling Green State University and the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY, he retired as he could not get any work done while working. Now, instead of grading calculus papers, he devotes his time to research on the history of mathematics.

His paper "Isaac Newton, Man, Myth, and Mathematics" received the George Polya Award for expository writing in mathematics. He received one of the first Haimo Awards from the MAA for distinguished university teaching. In 1994-1995 he was a Visiting Mathematician at MAA HQ where he built the first gopher, a precursor of the web, for the MAA. Also that year he wrote a successful NSF proposal for The Institute on the History of Mathematics and Its Use in Teaching (IHMT), which prepared several dozen college teachers to teach history of mathematics courses.

Needless to say, he delights in sharing his knowledge of the history of mathematics with all who are interested.


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