Date: | Wednesday, November 7, 2018 |
Speaker: | Prof. Chris Rorres
Department of Mathematics Drexel University Email: crorres AT comcast DOT net |
Title: | Archimedes' Count of the Cattle of the Sun |
Abstract: | Archimedes formulated a word problem about the number of the Cattle of the Sun, a herd of cattle that first appeared in Homer's Odyssey. This word problem can be formulated as a system of seven equations in eight unknowns and was presented by Archimedes as a challenge to his colleague Eratosthenes. Over the years it solution was reduced to solving the Pell equation, x^2 = d*y^2 + 1, where d=410,286,423,278,424. My talk, in addition to discussing Archimedes' problem, would also discuss the history of the Pell equation, whose analysis over the years engaged such mathematicians as Brahmagupta, Fermat, Pell, Euler, and Lagrange. From their analysis the number of Cattle of the Sun was finally computed (with the assistance of a computer) in 1965 and turned out to be an integer with 206,545 digits. |