Schedule of Talks for the 2004-2005 Academic Year
Date: Wednesday, October 6, 2004
Speaker: Dr. Vicki Hill
American University
Title: Constantin Caratheodory: 1873-1950
Abstract: The talk will feature a screening of the documentary Constantin Caratheodory: 1873-1950, written and directed by Dr. Vicki Hill, and the winner of two Telly Awards in 2004.

The documentary chronicles the life and mathematical work of the Greek mathematician, Constantin Caratheodory. It follows Caratheodory's life through joys and hardships. Caratheodory was witness to some of the greatest tragedies of the 20th century: World War I, the Turkish invasion of Asia Minor, the Nazi era and World War II. Although a Greek, Greece was not his home. He remained loyal from afar, in Germany, where he had influence and stature in academia and mathematics.

This presentation will also include remarks on Caratheodory, on of the production of the documentary, and on the nature of mathematical biography.

Date: Wednesday, November 3, 2004
Speaker: Prof. Fernando Gouvea
Department of Mathematics
Colby College
Title: Beyond the Marquis: Towards a History of L'Hospital's Rule
Abstract: Many history books discuss the original publication of L'Hospital's rule, emphasizing the story of the Marquis de L'Hospital's deal with Johann Bernoulli. This leaves many questions unanswered. For example, if we look at how the rule was stated and proved by L'Hospital, we find that neither the statement nor the proof look much like what we do today. This talk, which is based on joint work with Colby student Melissa Yosua, will attempt to fill in the rest of the story, both pre-Marquis and post-Marquis, and consider its place within the broader history of analysis.
Date: Wednesday, December 1, 2004
Speaker: Prof. Duncan Melville
Department of Mathematics
St. Lawrence University
Title: Origins and Development of the Sexagesimal Number System
Abstract: In the early history of the decipherment of cuneiform, Old Babylonian mathematics seemed to spring from the ground fully formed. However, the scribes of the Old Babylonian period (2000 - 1600 BC) were heirs to a written tradition a thousand years old. Only quite recently have we begun to understand that background and be able to trace,a t least in outline, this earlier history. In this lecture, I will describe the development of Mesopotamian mathematics from the earliest times through to the Old Babylonian period, with emphasis on arithmetic and the development of the sexagesimal number system.
Date: Wednesday, February 2, 2005
Speaker: Prof. Sylvester Reese
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Queensborough Community College - CUNY
Title: Is S = &radic 2 + ln(1 + &radic 2) an Old or New Constant?
Abstract: Abstract: This talk is a progress report on an ongoing study to determine whether S is an overlooked or a neglected mathematical constant.
Date: Wednesday, March 2, 2005
Speaker: Prof. Janet Beery
Mathematics Department
University of Redlands
Title: Thomas Harriot's Treatise on Figurate Numbers, Finite Differences, and Interpolation Formulas
Abstract: Thomas Harriot (1560?-1621) may be best known as the navigator and scientist for Sir Walter Ralegh's 1585-1586 expedition to the Virginia Colony, but he also was the leading English mathematician of his day. Harriot made groundbreaking discoveries in a wide range of mathematical sciences, including algebra, geometry, navigation, astronomy, and optics.

He published only one work during his lifetime, A Briefe and True Report of the New Found Land of Virginia (1588), but, at his death, left thousands of manuscript pages of mathematics, including at least two sets that appear to have been ready for press, a very complete theory of polynomial equations and a much shorter treatise entitled De Numeris Triangularibus et inde De Progressionibus Arithmeticis. We shall examine the contents of this latter treatise, survey some of Harriot's other mathematical work, and review Harriot's very interesting life.

Date: Wednesday, April 6, 2005
Speaker: Prof. Sanford Segal
Department of Mathematics
University of Rochester
Title: Wilhelm Blaschke and Helmut Hasse as mathematicians under the Nazis
Abstract: Two of the most distinguished mathematicians of the twentieth century were Wilhelm Blaschke and Helmut Hasse. During the Nazi era both led a distinguished mathematics department in Germany. Both have been accused of Nazi fellow-travelling. Both applied for membership in the Nazi party. The complicated lives of both during this complicated period will be briefly examined.
Date: Wednesday, May 4, 2005
Speaker: Prof. David Bellhouse
Department of Statistical & Actuarial Sciences
University of Western Ontario
Title: Abraham De Moivre: Genius in Exile
Abstract: November 27, 2004, marked the 250th anniversary of the death of Abraham De Moivre, best known in statistical circles for his famous large-sample approximation to the binomial distribution, whose generalization is now referred to as the Central Limit Theorem. De Moivre, a Huguenot refugee from France living in England, was one of the great pioneers of classical probability theory. He also made seminal contributions in analytic geometry, complex analysis and the theory of annuities. A review of his major work is given in the context of his life in England and the social background in which he worked. This talk is based, in part, on joint work carried out with Christian Genest of Université Laval.