Date: 
Wednesday, October 4, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Amy E. Shell
Department of Mathematics
United States Military Academy
amyshell@usma.edu

Title: 
Mina Rees and Her Influence on Mathematical Research

Abstract: 
Mina Spiegel Rees (19021997) had a profound effect on mathematics and
mathematical research during the middle years of the twentieth century,
which is still felt today. Her tenure at the head of the Mathematical
Sciences Division of the Office of Naval Research during its inception
after World War II shaped much of academic research in mathematics and
computers. Her leadership in establishing the Graduate School and
University Center of the City University of New York during the 1960s
influenced graduate education in the United States.


Date: 
Thursday, November 9, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Francine Abeles
Department of Mathematics
Kean University
fabeles@kean.edu

Title: 
Lewis Carroll's "Game" of Voting

Abstract: 
In the 1870s, Charles L. Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) wrote three pamphlets
applying his mathematical skills to the political procedures at work in
the committees that were then, and remain, ubiquitous in academic life.
These pamphlets, grounded in issues of fairness like minority
representation, reflect his thinking about how a committee should select
the best candidate or proposal. On the strength of these pamphlets,
Dodgson is now considered as a voting theorist second only to the great
eighteenth century French social scientist and philosopher, the Marquis
de Condorcet.
In this talk, I will discuss the circumstances that motivated
Dodgson to write these pamphlets, and I will sketch some later
developments, for example in social choice theory, game theory, and
computational complexity that illustrate the modern relevance of his work.


Date: 
Wednesday, December 6, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Rob Bradley
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Adelphi University
bradley@adelphi.edu

Title: 
Leonard Euler and the Genoese Lottery

Abstract: 
Most States in the USA sponsor lotteries of the following type: k
numbers are randomly chosen from among the first n positive integers,
and players are paid off at various rates if they have correctly
guessed some of the k winning numbers. In New York's Lotto, for
example, n=51 and k=6.
Lotteries like this took Europe by storm in the 18th century. When
Frederick the Great of Prussia was approached with a scheme to begin
such a lottery in Berlin, he called upon Leonard Euler (17071783),
the leading mathematician of his day and a member of the Berlin Academy,
for a mathematical analysis of the proposal. Euler devoted a substantial
portion of his writings in probability theory to the analysis of
games of chance. In this talk, I will survey Euler's writings about
lotteries, beginning with the royal charge of Frederick the Great,
and summarize his findings.


Date: 
Wednesday, January 24, 2001 
Speaker: 
Prof. Rudiger Thiele
Department of the History of Science
University of Leipzig
thieler@medizin.unileipzig.de

Title: 
The Brachistochrone Problem

Abstract: 
The Brachistochrone problem posed by John Bernoulli in 1696 served
as a starting point for many important mathematical developments.
Firstly, it stimulated a cascade of related problems, thereby
establishing a new branch of mathematics: the Calculus of Variations.
Secondly, it gave rise to a mathematical formulation linking such
disparate branches as Geometry, Mechanics, Optics (and even Philosophy
by extremal principles). Thirdly, it resulted in the concept of
function changing to that of an analytic function. In addition to
these cornerstones in the history of mathematics, the famous quarrels
between the Bernoulli brothers give an insight into personal and social
conditions of the learned world three centuries ago.


Date: 
Wednesday, February 7, 2001 
Speaker: 
Prof. Glen van Brummelen
Department of Mathematics
Bennington College
gvanbrum@bennington.edu

Title: 
A Millennial Journey, Y1K: Episodes in the Renaissance of Islamic
Mathematical Astronomy

Abstract: 
Although Islamic mathematical astronomy owed a great debt to its
Ptolemaic ancestry, it transformed into a unique and creative
discipline between the 11th and 15th centuries. The turn of the
millennium (in our calendar) may be seen as the birthdate of a
distinct astronomical science. We explore two episodes:
firstly, the beginnings of the establishment of spherical
trigonometry as a discipline independent of astronomy as seen
through the eyes of Abu Sahl alKuhi, a pure geometer and
methodological conservative. Secondly, we derive the reasonings
behind Kushyar ibn Labban's tables for computing planetary
positions, one of the first attempts to improve on Ptolemaic
procedures.


Date: 
Wednesday, March 7, 2001 
Speaker: 
Prof. Jack Winn
Department of Mathematics
SUNY Farmingdale
winnja@snyfarva.cc.farmingdale.edu

Title: 
Fifty Years of Mathematics Curriculum Reform  Common Problems and
Connecting Themes

Abstract: 
It is generally agreed that at the end of World War II the mathematics
curriculum was antiquated. It did not reflect the applied mathematical
advances made during the war and was devoid of the "modern point of
view" that could be traced to such masters as Riemann, Lobachevski,
Hilbert, and Hamilton, etc. Mathematicians returning from the war were
prepared to address this state of affairs. In the second half of the
twentieth century a very rich body of curriculum innovation emerged due
in part to some of the most creative mathematical minds of the time. One
might even detect a cycle of frustration generated by seemingly
underprepared students followed by a reform effort, that has continued
over the years. The speaker will present the highlights of these reform
efforts pointing out common themes and the controversies that ensued.
Examples of curriculum materials will be provided.


Date: 
Wednesday, April 4, 2001 
Speaker: 
Prof. Agnes Kalemaris
Department of Mathematics
SUNY Farmingdale
kalemaa@farmingdale.edu

Title: 
Could You Pass the Entrance Examination?

Abstract: 
This paper will look at some questions asked in "arithmetic," "algebra,"
and "geometry" sections of the mathematics examinations for college
entrance in the USA between 1878 and 1884. The topics seem familiar:
finding roots, solving systems of equations, factoring, and verbal
problems. However, many of the questions will have some interesting
surprises for faculty and students at the beginning of the twentyfirst
century.


Date: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2001 
Speaker: 
Prof. Karen Parshall
Department of Mathematics/Department of History
University of Virginia
khp3k@virginia.edu

Title: 
Entering the International Arena:
The Impact of Hilbert's Grundlagen der Geometrie on the
American Mathematical Community

Video Stream: 
Click
here 

Abstract: 
This talk will focus on the reception in the United States of
Hilbert's 1899 text Grundlagen der Geometrie. In particular,
it will analyze both the rise of postulational mathematics in
America and the role of University of Chicago mathematicians
and others in those developments.

