Harvey Mudd University
Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics
Former President of the Mathematical Association of America
Wed, Sep. 25, 2019 Mathematics for Human Flourishing
Talk for a general audience; no math background required
Abstract: How is math tied to what it means to be human? Why does the practice of mathematics often fall short of our ideals and hopes? I'll describe how math helps people flourish, regardless of what they do with their lives or careers, because it meets basic human desires and builds virtues that contribute to a life well-lived. And thus math belongs to everyone. I'll also share what I've learned from a prison inmate who has helped me re-think what it means to do math well.
Thu, Sep. 26, 2019 Sperner's lemma: topological combinatorics solving social science problems
Talk aimed at math concentrators
Abstract: Sperner's lemma is an elementary combinatorial result with a topological flavor, and it has many spectacular applications, including an elementary proof of the Brouwer fixed point theorem, and a solution to the classical cake-cutting problem: how to divide an object fairly among n people. I will trace the history of some generalizations of Sperner's lemma, including some very recent applications to divide rent fairly among roommates.