Date: 
Wednesday, October 5, 2011 
Speaker: 
Prof. David Zitarelli
Department of Mathematics
Temple University
Email: zit at temple dot edu

Title: 
Hilbert's American Colony

Abstract: 
No, David Hilbert never crossed the Atlantic. Yet at Göttingen he produced
an outstanding cadre of American doctoral students who played important roles
in the development of mathematics in the U.S. during the first half of the
twentieth century.
In this talk we describe the life and careers of those mathematicians who
obtained doctorates under Hilbert 18991910, emphasizing the critical role
they played in what was then the southwestern part of the country,
particularly at the University of Missouri.
Along the way we compare the schools of American students produced by
Felix Klein, Sophus Lie, and David Hilbert.


Date: 
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 
Speaker: 
Prof. David Lubell
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: lubell at adelphi dot edu

Title: 
Let Me Count the Ways

Abstract: 
Although combinatorial ideas have contributed to mathematics since antiquity, it was in the second half of the twentieth century that combinatorics emerged as a discipline in its own right. Much of this development was fueled by the research divisions of commercial organizations such as Bell Labs, IBM, and the Rand Corporation, as well as such governmental organizations as Aberdeen Proving Grounds and the National Bureau of Standards. Another factor was the sudden appearance of standalone periodicals dedicated to various specialties in mathematics. The talk will touch upon the influence both of mathematicians and of the literate laity on twentieth century combinatorics. (And, of course, there was Erdös.)


Date: 
Wednesday, December 7, 2011 
Speaker: 
Prof. Marjorie Wikler Senechal
Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology
Smith College
Email: senechal at science dot smith dot edu

Title: 
False Starts in Biogeometry: Whatever Happened to D'Arcy Thompson?

Abstract: 
In the early 20th century D'Arcy Thompson, a British biologist
(better said, naturalist), urged mathematicians to take up
the study of biological growth and form.
His 700page 1917 treatise On Growth and Form,
"the finest work of literature in all the annals of science that have been recorded in the English tongue,"
is a compendium of geometryrelated questions and problems.
Two mathematicians independently took D'Arcy up on his challenge:
Dorothy Wrinch and Nicolas Rashevsky.
They took very different paths; both proved to be thorny.
What had they hoped to do, and why couldn't they?


Date: 
Wednesday, February 1, 2012 
Speaker: 
Prof. Alexander Jones
Institute for the Study of the Ancient World
New York University
Email: alexander dot jones at nyu dot edu

Title:

An ancient Greek analog computer: the Antikythera Mechanism

Abstract: 
The Antikythera Mechanism was an ancient Greek gearwork device whose fragments were found at the site of a shipwreck from about 70 B.C. Using moving pointers on several dials, it displayed the motions of the heavenly bodies, other astronomical phenomena, and chronological cycles as a function of time represented as a rotary input. The Mechanism's design incorporates sophisticated representations of precise ratios between astronomical periods and of the Greeks' circlebased theories for the motions of the heavenly bodies. These depended on an interesting interplay between mathematics and mechanics.


Date: 
Wednesday, March 7, 2012 
Speaker: 
Prof. Larry D'Antonio
Department of Mathematics
Ramapo College
Email: ldant at ramapo dot edu

Title: 
Whose Line Fits Best? A brief history of linear regression

Abstract: 
In this talk we compare three approaches to the problem of finding the line of best fit. Each of these approaches arises from problems involving astronomical observations. Euler and Tobias Meyer developed the socalled method of averaging while studying the inequalities of Jupiter and Saturn. The problem of computing the ellipticity of the Earth was the motivation for both the method of the minimum sum of absolute deviations, found in the work of Roger Boscovich, and the familiar least squares method developed independently by Legendre and Gauss.


Date: 
Wednesday, April 18, 2012 
Speaker: 
Prof. JeanPierre Marquis
Department of Philosophy
Université de Montreal
Email: jeanpierre dot marquis at umontreal dot ca

Title:

Abstraction, Formalization and Axiomatization in Early 20th Century Mathematics

Abstract: 
I look at some of the claims made in the period 1890 and 1931 (approximately) by mathematicians when they put all these three components together. I try to suggest that abstraction is a crucial component that is not entirely understood at first and confused with the others. But it should not be.


Date: 
Wednesday, May 2, 2012 
Speakers: 
Salvatore J. Petrilli and Anthony Del Latto
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: petrilli AT adelphi DOT edu

Title:

Servois' Contributions to Mathematics: His Algebra and Perpetual Calendar

Abstract: 
FrançoisJoseph Servois (17671847) was a priest, artillery officer,
professor of mathematics, and museum curator. Servois' research spanned several
areas, including mechanics, geometry, and calculus.
In this presentation we will discuss Servois' contributions to the advancement
of algebra, and, in particular, his influence on the development of linear
operator theory. In his 1814 "Essai" Servois attempted to provide a rigorous
foundation for the calculus by introducing several algebraic properties,
such as "commutativity" and "distributivity." Essentially, he presented the
notion of a field, an idea far ahead of its time. Although Servois was not
successful in providing calculus with a proper foundation, his work did have
an impact on the field of algebra, and influenced several mathematicians,
such as Duncan Gregory and Robert Murphy.
We conclude the presentation by discussing the preliminary research
on Servois' (1813) "Calendrier perpétuel," a paper in which Servois
discussed a perpetual calendar that he designed.


Date: 
Friday, May 4, 2012 
Speaker: 
Robert S. D. Thomas
Department of Mathematics
University of Manitoba
Email: thomas AT cc DOT manitoba DOT ca

Title:

What's most interesting in Theodosios's Spherics

Abstract: 
While it held its place in the quadrivium for as long as
that long tradition lasted, the Spherics of Theodosios has fared
less well since. Much of a talk on the three books must attempt to
convey what they are about, which is itself of some interest, but I
shall try also to give some idea of what else I find of particular
interest, based on work to make my new translation more userfriendly.
Unlike translating it, that has involved trying to think through it.
It is truly a document designed by a committee, but there remains, I
think, the mark on it of the first person said to have written on the
topic, the enigmatic Eudoxos.

