The Art of Mathematics Carol Jacoby

 Science

Conversations, explorations, conjectures solved and unsolved, mathematicians and beautiful mathematics. No math background required.

The Ten Most Important Theorems in Mathematics, Part II
Jim Stein, Professor Emeritus of CSULS, returns to complete his (admittedly subjective) list of the ten greatest math theorems of all time, with fascinating insights and anecdotes for each. Last time he did the runners up and numbers 8, 9 and 10. Here he completes numbers 1 through 7, again ranging over geometry, trig, calculus, probability, statistics, primes and more.

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The Ten Most Important Theorems in Mathematics, Part I
Jim Stein, Professor Emeritus of CSULB, presents his very subjective list of what he believes are the ten most important theorems, with several runners up. These theorems cover a broad range of mathematicsgeometry, calculus, foundations, combinatorics and more. Each is accompanied by background on the problems they solve, the mathematicians who discovered them, and a couple personal stories. We cover all the runners up and numbers 10, 9 and 8. Next month we'll learn about numbers 1 through 7.

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Surprisingly Better than 5050
Jim Stein, Professor Emeritus of California State University Long Beach, discusses some bets that appear to be 5050, but can have better odds with a tiny amount of seemingly useless information. Blackwell's Bet involves two envelopes of money. You can open only one. Which one do you choose? We learn about David Blackwell and his mathematical journey amid blatant racism. Another seeming 5050 bet is guessing which of two unrelated events that you know nothing about is more likely; you can do better than 5050 by taking just one sample of one of the events. Dr. Stein then discusses how mathematics shows up in some surprising places. Mathematics studied for the pure joy of it often finds surprising uses. He gives some examples from G. H. Hardy as well as his own research.

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Fascinating Fractals
Jeanne Lazzarini joins us again to discuss fractals, a way to investigate the roughness that we see in nature, as opposed to the smoothness of standard mathematics. Fractals are built of iterated patterns with zoom similarity. Examples include the Koch Snowflake, which encloses a finite area but has infinite perimeter, and the Sierpinski Triangle, which has no area at all. Fractals have fractional dimension. For example, The Sierpinski Triangle is of dimension 1.585, reflecting its position in the nether world between 1 dimension and 2. Fractals are used in art, medicine, science and technology.

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Approximation by Rationals: A New Focus
Joseph Bennish, Prof. Emeritus of CSULB, describes the field of Diophantine approximation, which started in the 19th Century with questions about how well irrational numbers can be approximated by rationals. It took Cantor and Lebesgue to develop new ways to talk about the sizes of infinite sets to give the 20th century new ways to think about it. This led up to the DuffinSchaeffer conjecture and this year's Fields Medal for James Maynard.

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Tessellations
Jeanne Lazzarini, a math education specialist, returns to discuss tessellations and tiling in the works of Escher, Penrose, ancient artists and nature. We go beyond the familiar square or hexagonal tilings of the bathroom floor. M.C. Escher was an artist who made tessellations with lizards or birds, as well as pictures of very strange stairways. Roger Penrose is a scientist who discovered two tiles that, remarkably, can cover an area without repeat, as well as a strange stairway.

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