Mathematics Colloquium: My Favorite Gems from Four Decades of Mathematical Mining
4:10 p.m. Neill Hall 5W
Abstract: My retirement at the end of the current semester has prompted me to look back on 40 years of digging around in various fields of mathematics. In this non-technical retrospective, I thought it would be fun for me (and hopefully for my audience) to take a look at some of my favorite results. These “gems” (I like them at least) come from several branches of mathematics, including real and complex analysis, geometry, graph theory, combinatorics, and mathematics education. In particular, you’ll hear a little about: correspondence with Sprag, the caveman barbarian; a mathematical result of the Scottish essayist Thomas Carlyle and the world’s fastest construction of the heptadecagon; why two simple closed curves are more interesting than just one; how to roll triangles, squares, and other polygons; the fewest number of steps of decreasing size 1, ½, 1/3, … needed to get you where you want to be; a result that made it into the book Numerology; memories of my favorite undergraduate student; how to enclose an ellipse with the tightest fitting n-sided polygon; how I was mathematically outdone by a 5th grader.