A Tribute to Euler - William Dunham
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Uploaded on Nov 22, 2011
A Tribute to Euler
Truman Koehler Professor of Mathematics, Muhlenberg College
Tuesday, October 14, 2008, at 6:00 PM
Harvard University Science Center, Hall D
The fall 2008 Clay Public Lecture will be held at Harvard on October 14, in association with the Harvard Mathematics Department. Known for his writings on the history of mathematics, Professor William Dunham will examine the genius of one of the world's most prolific mathematicians in his talk "A Tribute to Euler" in Hall D of the Harvard Science Center at 6 pm.
Among history's greatest mathematicians is Leonhard Euler (1707-1783), the Swiss genius who produced an astonishing 25,000 pages of pure and applied mathematics of the very highest quality.
In this talk, we sketch Euler's life and describe a few of his contributions to number theory, algebra, and other branches of mathematics. Then we examine a particular Eulerian theorem: his simple but beautiful proof that there are as many ways to decompose a whole number as the sum of distinct summands as there are ways to decompose it as the sum of (not necessarily distinct) odd summands.
Condorcet, in his Eulogy to Euler, wrote that "All mathematicians now alive are his disciples." It should be clear to those who attend the Clay Public Lecture that these words are as true today as when they were first set down, over two centuries ago.
William Dunham, who received his B.S. (1969) from the University of Pittsburgh and his M.S. (1970) and Ph.D. (1974) from Ohio State, is the Truman Koehler Professor of Mathematics at Muhlenberg College. In the fall term of 2008 he is visiting at Harvard University and teaching a course on the work of Leonhard Euler.
Over the years, he has directed NEH seminars on the history of mathematics and has spoken on historical topics at dozens of U.S. colleges and universities, as well as at the Smithsonian Institution, the Swiss Embassy in Washington, and on NPR's "Talk of the Nation: Science Friday."
In the 1990s, Dunham wrote three books on mathematics and its history: Journey Through Genuis: The Great Theorems of Mathematics (1990), The Mathematical Universe (1994), and Euler: The Master of Us All (1999). In the present millennium, he has written The Calculus Gallery: Masterpieces from Newton to Lebesgue (2005) and edited The Genius of Euler: Reflections on His Life and Work (2007). His expository writing has been recognized by the Mathematical Association of America with the George Pólya Award in 1992, the Trevor Evans Award in 1997, the Lester R. Ford Award in 2006, and the Beckenbach Prize in 2008. The Association of American Publishers designated The Mathematical Universe as the Best Mathematics Book of 1994.
Our thanks to the Harvard Mathematics Department for hosting this event.
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