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Mathematics & Statistics

The R. Kent Nagle Lecture Series

October 12, 2000

A. K. Dewdney asks “Do Aliens Do Math?”

Audience The talk is open and intended for the general public. Except for parking (see below), it is free.
Date October 12, 2000
Time Thursday evening, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
Place Cooper Hall, Room 103 (CPR 103), at USF-Tampa, just west of Maple near Elm, south of the Education Building (For a map of the campus, click here.)
Parking Parking permits can be obtained for $2 each from the Visitor's Center off the University entrance on Leroy Collins Drive; a limited number of free permits may be obtained in advance by contacting the Mathematics Department by October 1. There is also free satellite parking with shuttle rides to the lecture hall.

A. K. Dewdney

A. K. Dewdney's website can be accessed by clicking here.

A. K. Dewdney
Do Aliens Do Math?

Description of the Talk

This talk concerns “aliens” from outer space, not people from other countries. Mathematics has ofen been called a “universal language”, because the results of research in mathematics do not depend on the spoken language or culture of whoever (or whatever) does the research. This view will be defended with some well-chosen examples, including a “message” encoded in starlight and first deciphered by Balmer in the 19th century. At the same time, mathematics is far more than just a language. It is a precise manner of thinking which, because the terms of thought are so utterly simple, they seem to defeat the average lay-person (who is used to far more complicated modes of thought). Another well-chosen example will make this proposition clear.

Description of the Speaker

A. K. Dewdney is a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo and a long-time writer and lecturer on the subjects of mathematics and computing. He conducted the Mathematical Games and Computer Recreations columns in Scientific American magazine for seven years and has written some dozen books in the areas of science, mathematics and computing. His 1994 classic, “The Plainverse: Computer Contact With a Two-Dimensional World”, has just been re-published by Copernicus Books (Springer, New York). Dewdney lives in Ontario, Canada, where he is currently exploring new approaches to teaching mathematics with colleagues at the University of Waterloo.