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September 17, 2009, 7:30 PM

An Evening with Leonhard Euler

Participants: William Dunham

Leonhard Euler (1707-1783) is one of the towering figures in the history of mathematics. Among the most prolific mathematicians of all time, he overcame serious visual challenges to produce a body of work whose quantity and quality defy belief. Euler's interests ranged across the 18th century's mathematical landscape—from number theory to calculus, from geometry to algebra—and extended into new areas that he was literally creating as he went along. In this talk, host William Dunham will sketch Euler's life and provide samples of his work in a non-technical fashion. Join us to see why Euler is regarded as the Shakespeare of mathematics.

Note: There is no mathematical pre-requisite necessary for this presentation.

William Dunham is the Truman Koehler Professor of Mathematics at Muhlenberg College. Originally trained in topology, Dunham became interested in the history of mathematics. Over the years, this interest has carried him to visiting positions at Ohio State and Harvard, and to speaking engatements at scientific centers like NIST and the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, as well as the Swiss Embassy, the Smithsonian Institution, and NPR’s “Talk of the Nation: Science Friday.” In 2008, the Clay Mathematics Institute invited him to deliver its annual Clay Public Lecture at Harvard. Dunham is the author of Journey Through Genius, The Mathematical Universe, Euler: The Master of Us All, The Calculus Gallery: Masterpieces from Newton to Lebesgue, and The Genius of Euler: Reflections on His Life and Work. Dunham’s expository writing has been recognized by the Mathematical Association of America with its George Polya Award in 1992, Trevor Evans Award in 1997 and 2008, Lester Ford Award in 2006, and Beckenbach Prize in 2008. The Association of American Publishers designated The Mathematical Universe as the Best Mathematics Book of 1994.

This program is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


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