Date: 
Wednesday, October 10, 2007 
Speaker: 
Prof. Len Berggren
Department of Mathematics
Simon Fraser University
Email: len dot berggren at gmail dot com

Title: 
Artistic Problems in Islamic Geometry

Abstract: 
Islamic architecture is famous for its striking tile designs  those of
the Alhambra being the most wellknown. In the tenth century C.E. the
mathematician Abu alWafa' alBuzjani wrote a book on the mathematical
techniques needed by artisans, in which we find much material relating
to the design of such tilings. Abu alWafa is known to have discussed
these problems with artisans, and was sensitive to their requirements,
but he also exposed their errors and treated his problems strictly from
a mathematical point of view. In this talk we shall survey Abu alWafa's
problems and his solutions, including problems dealing with socalled
'rusty compass' constructions and geometrical dissections.


Date: 
Wednesday, November 7, 2007 
Speaker: 
Dr. Emili Bifet
emili dot bifet at gmail dot com

Title: 
Paolo Ruffini and the Beginnings of Group Theory

Abstract: 
In 1799 Paolo Ruffini published La teoria generale delle
equazioni, a lengthy book with a revolutionary claim: general
equations of degree higher than the fourth cannot be solved by
radicals. In this talk we shall have a look at Ruffini's mathematics
and its influence on subsequent events.


Date: 
Wednesday, December 5, 2007 
Speaker: 
Prof. Lee Stemkoski
Department of Mathematics & Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: stemkoski at adelphi dot edu

Title: 
Euler's Notebooks and Unpublished Manuscripts

Abstract: 
Leonhard Euler (17071783) is one of the most important and prolific
mathematicians in history, having written over 800 articles and books.
The republication of his complete works has been underway for over 100
years, and is still in progress today. We will examine these efforts
and survey some of the contents of Euler's notebooks and unpublished
manuscripts, placing them in the context of his life and published work.


Date: 
Wednesday, February 6, 2008 
Speaker: 
Larry D'Antonio
School of Theoretical and Applied Sciences
Ramapo College of New Jersey
Email: ldant at ramapo dot edu

Title: 
Henry Smith contra Minkowski: a 19th century Cause Célèbre

Abstract: 
The British mathematician Henry John Stephen Smith (18261883) is
perhaps best known for how often he is forgotten. This talk will tell
the tale of his most famous overlooked work. In 1882 the Paris Academy
set a prize contest to find the number of representations of an integer
as a sum of five squares. The only difficulty was that Smith had already
solved the problem in 1867. When questioned about this, Hermite assured
Smith that he had only to submit his solution and the prize would be
his. Smith feverishly worked on polishing his previous paper to beat the
fastapproaching prize deadline. The stress of his efforts apparently
played a role in Smith's demise. He never lived to see the findings of
the prize committee and the subsequent international furor. The
committee decided that the prize should be shared by Smith and a
previously unknown eighteen yearold Hermann Minkowski. Was Minkowski
aware of Smith's earlier work? Did the Paris Academy act shamefully
towards Smith? What role did national sentiment play in discussions of
the controversy? We will examine these questions and also look at the
history of the problem of representing integers as the sum of squares.
This problem has a rich history and is very worthy of consideration on
its own merits.


Date: 
Wednesday, April 2, 2008 
Speaker: 
Christopher Baltus
Department of Mathematics
State University of New York, Oswego
Email: baltus at oswego dot edu

Title: 
Euler, Continued Fractions, and the Pell Equation

Abstract: 
Euler did not invent continued fractions, but he invented the subject.
Where Wallis had given a couple pages of formulas, Euler established
ties to differential equations and infinite series, and studied a
variety of special forms. In the broad context of his continued
fraction work, we will look at his solution to the Pell equation,
illustrating Euler's brilliant exploitations of examples to arrive at
general forms and the intense interest in computation. We will also see
that his lesser interest in theory limited his achievement in the case
of the Pell Equation, where the young Lagrange quickly surpassed him.


Date: 
Wednesday, April 9, 2008 
Speaker: 
JeanPaul Pier
University of Luxembourg
Email: jppier at pt dot lu

Title: 
Bourbaki, an epiphenomenon in the history of mathematics

Abstract: 
The constitution of Bourbaki was one of the most striking and the
most influential moments in the history of 20th century mathematics.
The phenomenon is quite unique due to its conception as well as its
exceptionally long duration.
Thirtyfive years after David Hilbert's fully axiomized treatise on
elementary geometry, the Bourbaki group launched the axiomatized
presentation of large mathematical domains, in their utmost useful
generality.
The Bourbaki archives up to the 1950's have been disclosed. They will
be progressively available online, accompanied by comments and explanations.


Date: 
Wednesday, May 7, 2008 
Speaker: 
George Rosenstein
Franklin and Marshall College
Email: george dot rosenstein at fandm dot edu

Title:

Granville, the Man and the Book

Abstract: 
Arguably, the most used calculus book in the United States during the first half of the 20th century was Granville, Smith, and Longley. I have described it elsewhere as the first 20th century text in the U.S. The first edition, appearing in 1904, was authored by Granville alone. In this talk, I will describe the twists and turns of this Minnesota farm boy as he becomes a faculty member at Yale, the author of a best selling text, the president of a Pennsylvania college, and a Chicago insurance executive. I will also talk about the first edition itself and how it differed from its predecessors.


Date: 
Monday, June 23, 2008

Speaker: 
A Special Summer Colloquium Talk by
Ivor GrattanGuinness
Middlesex University

Title: 
Solving Wigner's mystery: the reasonable (though perhaps limited)
effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences

Abstract: 
Abstract: In 1960 the physicist Eugene Wigner published a very
influential article on "The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics
in the natural sciences." I counter the claim stated in its title with
an interpretation of science in which many of the uses of mathematics
are shown to be quite reasonable, even rational, though maybe somewhat
limited in content and indeed where ineffectiveness can be found. The
alternative view emphasizes two factors which Wigner largely ignores:
the effectiveness of the natural sciences in mathematics, in that much
mathematics has been motivated by interpretations in the sciences, and
still is; and the central place of theories in mathematics and the
sciences, especially theorybuilding, in which analogies drawn from
other theories play an important role. A major related feature is the
desimplification of theories, which attempts to reduce limitations on
their effectiveness. Significant also is the ubiquity and/or
generality of many topics and notions in mathematics. It emerges that
the connections between mathematics and the natural sciences are, and
always have been, rationally though fallibly forged links, not a
collection of mysterious parallelisms.

