Schedule of Talks for the 2013-2014 Academic Year
Date: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Speaker: Prof. Fred Rickey
Department of Mathematics
West Point (Emeritus)
Email: fred DOT rickey AT me DOT com
Title: The Cyphering Books of George Washington
Abstract: Between the ages of 13 and 15, George Washington (1732--1799) compiled two cyphering books consisting of 170 manuscript pages. These give a fascinating insight into the education of a young man who was preparing to be a surveyor. But what did a mid-eighteenth century surveyor need to know? Measuring angles and distances was crucial. Of course, area was what the landholder cared about. Trigonometry was sufficient for computing area, but was it essential? We will describe the content of these cyphering books in detail and argue that Washington had not just the mathematical tools to be a successful surveyor, but an outstanding technical education for his day.
Date: Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Title: [Postponed]
Date: Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Title: [Postponed to March due to severe weather]
Date: Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Speaker: Prof. Jeff Suzuki
Department of Mathematics
CUNY - Brooklyn College
Email: jeff_suzuki AT yahoo DOT com
Title: The Changing Nature of College Algebra: Lessons From the Nineteenth Century
Abstract: The college-level "gateway courses" (college algebra, precalculus) are about to be confronted with major changes in student preparation as a result of the Common Core, raising the question of what is really important in these courses. We'll take a look at how college algebra changed during the nineteenth century, to gain some insight into what is really important, how the curriculum evolved, and what we can do next.
Date: Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Speaker: Prof. Lee Stemkoski
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Adelphi University
Email: stemkoski AT adelphi DOT edu
Title: Leonhard Euler's Work in Number Theory and the Commentationes Arithmeticae
Abstract: Leonhard Euler made many contributions in a variety of mathematical subject areas. His investigations and subsequent publications in number-theoretic topics marks the beginning of the establishment of Number Theory as a mathematical subject area in its own right. In this talk, we will survey some of Euler's contributions to Number Theory. We will also discuss past and present efforts to categorize and analyze his work in this area, from the Commentationes Arithmeticae to the Euler Archive.
Date: Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Speaker: Prof. Nick Scoville
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Ursinus College
Email: nscoville AT ursinus DOT edu
Title: Topology and its History: Must there be a Separation?
Abstract: A first course in point-set topology tends to not only be divorced from history, but also divorced from any other branch of mathematics in the minds of many students. This makes continued motivation of new topological concepts difficult. In contrast, the historical development of certain concepts provides automatic motivation and places the concept in its larger mathematical context. In this talk, we will outline a preliminary list of topics which trace the evolution of connectedness. Beginning with Cantor and a problem of Fourier series, we investigate the contributions of Jordan and Schoenflies, culminating in the current definition first given by Lennes. We share pedagogical suggestions to connect the thought of these mathematicians to build a coherent narrative which teaches some of the main properties of connectedness through part of its historical development.