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College of the Sciences

CWU Winter Mathematics Seminars Begin January 16

Do you know anything about fractals? Ever heard of Elizebeth Smith Friedman? Want to take a guess at what is the largest prime number? Information about those topics will be shared during the fall 2019 CWU Mount Stuart Mathematics Seminars.

The first will be held on January 16, which will be a “meet and greet,” noted CWU mathematics professor Jean Marie Linhart, who organizes the quarterly seminars, who added, “faculty and students will team up to play a variety of cooperative and competitive games.”

Then, on January 30, university mathematics professor Jon Fassett will discuss fractals. Fractals are complicated, never-ending patterns that are self-similar across different scales. Some fractals can be created by repeating a simple process over and over. They help scientists understand phenomena like crystal growth and galaxy formation.

The February 13 seminar, presented by CWU mathematics professor Stuart Boersma, will be on the life of Elizebeth Smith Friedman, who was a top code breaker with the U.S. Treasury Department in the 1920s and 1930s. She helped catch and convict many smugglers.
The series concludes February 27 when university mathematics professor Dominic Klyve discusses the life of Leonhard Euler, one of the most eminent mathematicians of the 18th century, along with the search for the large prime numbers. 

Euler, an 18th-century Swiss astronomer, logician, engineer and physicist, is considered to be the most prolific mathematician of all time. A prime number is one that has with no divisors other than 1 and itself. Euler found a 100-year-old mistake in mathematicians’ beliefs about one especially large prime number, and this launched him on a career-long quest to search for more large primes.

Each seminar, to be held in Samuelson 252, will begin at 4:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served.

Mount Stuart Mathematics Seminars Winter 2019
When                Title                                                                     Presenter

Jan. 16             Meet and Greet and Games                             Everyone!
Jan. 30             Name that Fractal                                             Jon Fassett
Feb. 13             Elizebeth Smith Friedman: Code Smasher!   Stuart Boersma

Feb. 27             A Guilty Euler Searches for Large Primes      Dominic Klyve

Images: (L. to r.) Elizebeth Friedman (courtesy of the George C. Marshall Foundation), Sierpinski Carpet fractal (picture by Johannes Rössel [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons), Leonhard Euler (picture by Jakob Emanuel Handmann [Public domain]).



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