A public lecture
Bill Casselman, University of British Columbia
April 26, 2005 at 7pm
Science Center Lecture Hall B, Harvard University
No science has a longer history than mathematics. It is arguable that arithmetic preceded, and even motivated, writing, and it seems to have originated independently in each of the great civilizations. Bill Casselman has been assembling a collection of images - mostly his own photoraphs - of mathematical objects of interest, both ancient and modern. The earliest portrait in his collection is of a well known Babylonian tablet now located at Yale University, illustrating a simple case of the theorem attributed to Pythagoras. The most recent images show how computer animation can be used to explain mathematics. Among others are photographs of the oldest diagrams from classical Greek mathematics, of an extremely beautiful illuminated medieval manuscript of Euclid's Elements, and of a hand-copy made in 1790 of the first printed mathematics book (China, 1035 C. E). Much of the story will be about changing perceptions of elementary geometry, and the lecture should be of interest to anyone who liked geometry in secondary school.
Bill Casselman is Professor of Mathematics at the University of British Columbia and Graphics Editor of the NOTICES of the American Mathematical Society. He has published many research articles in representation theory, and is the author of a book titled MATHEMATICAL ILLUSTRATIONS, recently pubished by Cambridge University Press.
Photos of courtesy of Bill Casselman