Tuesday, August 7 2018 at 7:30PM

Download iCalendar file
(e.g. import to Outlook or Google Calendar)


48-52 Canal St

Yves van Gennip

What's the talk about?

Say the word "maths" to a random person on the street and they will probably want to know why you are talking to them. Or so they'll claim, but any mention of probability distributions and random sampling will likely only elicit blank stares* and perhaps a proud admission of doing badly in maths in school. But did they? Maths, I mean. Did they do maths in school? The best case scenario is that they did do some of the basics (and yet, I suspect, very few of the fundamentals), but even that will have offered just a narrow view of the topic.

The general perception of what mathematics is or isn't, can and cannot do, and who can do it at all to begin with, tends to be quite different from a (this) mathematician's view, as is quite obvious in places such as, for example, everywhere.

Misconceptions galore (no, that's not a little known 007 sidekick; there, I said "maths", you expected numbers, I provided), yet so little time to have a wildly entertaining stab of dubious efficacy at correcting them. Yet that is exactly what I'll try to do in this talk.

Luckily we are not flying blind here. History provides us with plenty of demi-gods of deduction, titans of theorems, a whole pantheon of provers. Or, coated in fewer Asgardian assumptions and Olympian ordinals, people with good ideas who worked their denominators off to make sure their musings would measure up against mathematical scrutiny.

Join us for a look at some myths of and misconceptions about maths. No test at the end. And there'll be a cat picture too!

The speaker this evening will be a person, probably even a mathematician. The audience will be skeptics (people too), who are known for judging a talk on its own merits and don't need any silly bios of the speaker to decide whether or not to attend a talk. And they definitely are not so shallow that they need a picture. What, is "mathematician" not hot enough for you?

*Not based on empirical observations. Any physicist or other empiricist is welcome to have a crack at it. Ask your local ethics committee first.