October 18, 2016
The Unlikely Power of Uncertainty and Contradiction
Math is often thought of as a discipline of certainty and consistency — of black and white, zeroes and ones. But in reality, mathematics is full of uncertainty and contradiction. In this talk, mathematician and author Jordan Ellenberg discusses how this gray area provides us with powerful tools for thinking about the seemingly non-mathematical matters that dominate our lives. Using wide-ranging examples -- disease modeling, Nate Silver, irrational numbers and Theodore Roosevelt, to name a few – Ellenberg will illuminate math’s hidden powers.
Ellenberg is the John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and in 2015 was named a Guggenheim Fellow. His work has been featured in major newspapers including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Boston Globe, and he has appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered and Bloomberg News. Ellenberg’s 2014 book How Not to be Wrong was a New York Times bestseller, and his novel, The Grasshopper King, was a finalist for the 2004 Young Lions Fiction Award.