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Published on Sep 24, 2010
It is a sad fact that many people believe that mathematics is about doing arithmetic and memorizing formulas. However, if these people were to ask a mathematician what their profession is about they might be surprised by the answer. "A mathematician, like a painter or poet, is a maker of patterns. If his patterns are more permanent than theirs, it is because they are made with ideas." So said the number theorist G. H. Hardy in his 1940 essay 'A Mathematician's Apology', and in this talk I will attempt to convey this alternative point of view using a series of examples of visual mathematics. Each example will take the form of an easy-to-explain statement about numbers or geometric shapes, followed by a purely visual proof of the statement. The success of the talk may be judged by the number of 'Eureka!' moments it generates in the audience.