Richard Tapia: 2012 Math Is Key

Math at top speed: Exploring and Breaking Myths in the Drag Racing Folklore

Professor Richard Tapia of Rice University presented the annual Math is Key Public Lecture on Tuesday, March 27, 2012.

In his talk entitled "Math at top speed: Exploring and Breaking Myths in the Drag Racing Folklore," Prof. Tapia identified elementary mathematical frameworks for the study of drag racing beliefs. He explained why dragster acceleration is greater than the acceleration due to gravity, an age old inconsistency, and presented his "Fundamental Theorem of Drag Racing." The talk's introduction included a historical account of the development of drag racing and featured several lively videos.

Richard Tapia has been involved in some aspect of drag racing for most of his life and has witnessed the creation and growth of many myths concerning dragster speed and acceleration. He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach programs. In 2011 he was a recipient of the National Medal of Science.

He is a professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics, holds the Maxfield-Oshman Professorship in Engineering, and is the director of the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education at Rice University.

A reception in the Armstrong Hall atrium immediately followed the lecture. This reception was co-hosted by the College of Science and the College of Engineering.