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Dr. Eugenia Cheng to deliver Math Is Key talk


Dr. Eugenia Cheng
Dr. Eugenia Cheng

Dr. Eugenia Cheng, scientist–in-residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and senior lecturer of pure mathematics at University of Sheffield, will give the Math Is Key talk on Tuesday, March 6.

Dr. Cheng's talk will take place at 3:30 pm in MATH 175, followed by a book signing in the lobby outside MATH 175.  We will have her books “How to Bake Pi: An Edible Exploration of the Mathematics of Mathematics“ (in paperback) and “Beyond Infinity: An Expedition to the Outer Limits of Mathematics” (in hardcover) available for purchase at the signing. Download the talk flyer

Cheng’s mathematical interests include higher-dimensional category theory.  As a scholar, public speaker and author she has also explored her passion of explaining mathematics to non-mathematicians to rid the world of math phobia – often using food and baking analogies.  She has appeared on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and has been interviewed by NPR and the BBC.  

She is also the founder of Liederstube, a non-for-profit aiming to bring classical music to a wider audience.  She also performs classical piano as a solo and collaborative pianist, gives piano lessons and is a voice coach.

How To Bake Pi: making abstract mathematics palatable

Why does mathematics inspire love in some people and fear in others?  Why do some people think mathematics is important for everyone while others think it is a collection of gibberish touching little of the world beyond the brains of some rare geniuses?  Why do some think it is a creative art akin to poetry and music, while others think it is a boring tool for producing answers?  In this talk I will present mathematics as a way of thinking, and not just about numbers.  I will use a variety of unexpectedly connected examples including music, juggling and baking, as in the title of my recent book.  My aim is to show that math can be made fun, intriguing and relevant for people of all ages, by means of hand-on activities, examples that everyone can relate to, and peculiar anecdotes. I will present surprisingly high level mathematics including some advanced abstract algebra usually only seen by maths undergraduates or PhD students, yet show how to make it accessible even to children.  My message is relevant to those who wish to spread their love of math, as well as those who wish to overcome their fear of it.  There will be a distinct emphasis on edible examples.

The purpose of the "Math Is Key" public lecture series is to invite to campus a prominent mathematical scientists to present a lecture of general interest. The aim is to have a lecture that is accessible to a wide audience of students (undergraduate and graduate) and faculty from the mathematical sciences and related disciplines, and that highlights the beauty and use of some part of mathematics while maintaining technical details at a minimum.

Previous speakers include  Prof. S. James Gates Jr of University of Maryland, Margaret Wright of Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, New York University, Martin Golubitsky of Ohio State University, Richard Tapia of Rice University and Arlie Petters of Duke University.

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