Date: 
Wednesday, September 29, 1999 
Speaker: 
Prof. V. Frederick Rickey,
Dept. of Mathematical Sciences,
U.S. Military Academy (West Point)
FredRickey@usma.edu

Title: 
Mathematics at West Point: The first fifty years 
Abstract: 
Mathematics has been a central part of the curriculum
at the United States Military Academy since its founding in 1902. When
Sylvanus Thayer became Superintendent in 1817, he reorganized the Academy
using the Ecole Polytechnique as a model. He changed the way the cadets
were taught as well as the textbooks they used. Now there was an emphasis
on French textbooks. Gradually these were replaced by American texts, most
notably those of West Point faculty members Charles Davies and Albert Church.
Our purpose today will be to explore the changes that took place at West
Point in its first half century. 

Date: 
Wednesday, October 27, 1999 
Speaker: 
Prof. Harold M. Edwards,
Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences,
New York University
hme1@scires.acf.nyu.edu

Title: 
John Wallis, a precursor of Newton 
Abstract: 
In the period just before Newton and Leibniz, many mathematicians
were dealing with questions involving limits and infinites. John
Wallis's work "Arithmetica Infinitorum" contains an extraordinary argument
involving infinites that gives, in a simple fashion, both "Wallis' formula"
for pi as an infinite product and a value for the factorial of 1/2.
Newton himself stated that his first steps toward the binomial theorem
for fractional exponents were inspired by this work of Wallis. 

Date: 
Wednesday, December 1, 1999 
Speaker: 
Florence Fasanelli
The Mathematical Association of America
ffasanelli@juno.com

Title: 
The History of 19th Century Mathematics and Its Influence
on 20th Century Art 
Abstract: 
Ideas discussed by artists in the late 19th Century about
Riemann, Poincare, and other mathematicians' and mathematical practitioners'
work resulted in changing directions in the use of color, perspective,and
purpose in painting and sculpture in the 20th Century. This illustrated
talk will discuss the importance of mathematics on art history. 

Date: 
Wednesday, February 2, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Thomas L. Drucker,
Department of Philosophy,
University of Wisconsin
tld@globalim.com

Title: 
The Rising Tide of Rigor in the 19th Century 
Abstract: 
Several factors were involved in the change in standards
of rigor from the beginning to the end of the 19th century. One was
the close examination of results which needed to be corrected in the light
of counterexamples. Asecond was the changing market for mathematical
methods, especially as the techniques of analysis were circulated to a
wider audience. Yet another was the possibility of formalization
that was a consequence of the algebraicization of logic. There is
also the matter of the growing remoteness of the subject matter from the
external world of experience. Comparison with other periods helps to bring
out the distinctiveness of the combination of elements that turned mathematics
from the rigging of science to the science of rigor. 

Date: 
Wednesday, March 1, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Jim Tattersall,
Department of Mathematics,
Providence College
tat@providence.edu 
Title: 
Mathematical Vignettes from Cambridge University 
Abstract: 
The Educational Times, a monthly periodical devoted to
pedagogical interest, contained a section devoted to mathematical problems
and their solutions. The periodical did more to encourage original mathematical
research than any other European periodical in the late nineteenth century.
We discuss the accomplishments of three ET problem solvers from Cambridge:
Hertha Ayrton, an accomplished scientist and first women to have been nominated
a Fellow in London's Royal Society, Charlotte Scott, first women to receive
first class honors on the Cambridge Mathematical Tripos, and Philippa Fawcett
who placed above the Senior Wrangler on the 1890 Tripos. Selected problems
from The Educational Times and the 1880 and 1890 Mathematical Tripos exams
will be included as well as a brief history of the Cambridge Mathematical
Tripos. 

Date: 
Wednesday, April 5, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. Eleanor Robson,
The Oriental Institute,
The University of Oxford
eleanor.robson@allsouls.oxford.ac.uk

Title: 
Plimpton's tablets: a New York collector and the early
history of
mathematical Assyriology 
Abstract: 
George Plimpton, New York educational publisher, was
an avid and serious collector of Americana and early textbooks. He and
his academic collaborator, Prof. David Smith, amassed an unparalleled collection
of European and American mathematical texts, culminating in the 1908 edition
of the catalogue Rara Arithmetica. Just a few years earlier in Philadelphia,
the Assyriologist Hermann Hilprecht had published the first ever study
of mathematical cuneiform texts  which dated back to over 3000 years
before the oldest items in Plimpton's collection. He and Smith
naturally turned their attention to these objects but
they proved rather more difficult to acquire than they had expected. This
lecture traces their hunt for tablets across three continents and three
decades, with the help and hindrance of British Museum curators, Turkish
pashas and shady antiquities dealers.
The Plimpton and Smith tablets are now housed in Columbia
University, New York. We can now assess the intellectual value of the collection
and ask: was it worth the chase? 

Date: 
Wednesday, May 3, 2000 
Speaker: 
Prof. David E. Zitarelli,
Department of Mathematics
Temple University
zit@unix.temple.edu

Title: 
Towering Figures in American Mathematics, 18901950 
Abstract: 
During the period from 1890 to 1950 the American mathematical community
evolved from being a virtual mathematical wasteland to the acclaimed leader
in the world. This lecture visits developments over this time period by
examining the roles played by some of the leading mathematical figures
in the country. The principal figures mentioned include E. H. Moore, Oswald
Veblen, G. D. Birkhoff, R. L. Moore, Norbert Wiener, and Marshall Stone. 
