Mathematics Colloquium Speaker Series Announced, Feb. 16, Mar. 22 and April 19

February 15, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Converse College, The University of South Carolina Upstate, and Wofford College are pleased to invite faculty, students, and others to three mathematics colloquia in the spring 2012. Our purpose is to promote interaction among students and members of the local mathematical community outside of the traditional classroom setting.

The topics are:

Thursday, February 16, 2012
Title: Gödel’s Theorems and the Death of the Theory of Everything
Speaker: Dr. Kara Shavo, Presbyterian College
Place: Converse College, Kuhn Hall Room 203
Time: 3:30 PM (Refreshments will be served 3 – 3:30 p.m. in the Faculty Lounge, Kuhn Hall 205)

In 1931, Austrian mathematician Kurt Gödel published his two Incompleteness Theorems in adiminutive 30-page paper that had a profound impact on the foundations of mathematics, derailing Bertrand Russell’s and Alfred North Whitehead’s 2,000-page attempt in Principia Mathematica to formulate a “theory of everything.” The talk will focus on the history and impact of the Incompleteness Theorems, and on the question of whether or not Gödel’s results have meaningful consequences beyond the strict confines of pure mathematics. The key mechanism of Gödel’s proof will be outlined at a level that will be understandable to a non-specialist in logic. Kara Shavo is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Presbyterian College. She received a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of South Carolina specializing in graph theory. She received an M.S. in mathematics from Michigan State University and a B.Ed. from the University of Toledo. She lives in Columbia, SC with her husband and four daughters.


Thursday, March 22, 2012
Title: The Music and Mathematics of Change Ringing
Speaker: Dr. Caren L. Diefenderfer, Hollins University
Place: George Dean Johnson, Jr. College of Business and Economics (160 E. St. John St.) Room 160
Time: 4 p.m., Refreshments will be served 3:30 – 4 p.m. in the George Room 160.

Does the memory of pealing bells take you to a specific place and time? Have you ever wanted to climb up into a tower and ring the bells? Change ringing is a traditional form of ringing tower bells by pulling on ropes. This talk will use the specific rules of change ringing, as practiced in 17th century England, to introduce a variety of topics and activities that are related to “ringing the changes.” We will use handbells to ring a change and understand the process. Patterns, abstract algebra, a romance novel, knitting and having fun will be the key ideas in this talk. Dr. Caren Diefenderfer is Professor of Mathematics at Hollins University in Roanoke, VA. Her interest in change ringing began during her first two years as an undergraduate at Smith College, where she was a choir friend of Susan Hodge. She received her AB from Dartmouth College and her MA and PhD degrees from the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB). Professor Diefenderfer served as Chief Reader for the College Board’s AP Calculus program from 2004 to 2007. She is currently the Director of the Tensor for Women and Mathematics program of the MAA (Mathematical Association of America) and is the president of the NNN (National Numeracy Network), an interdisciplinary group dedicated to improving quantitative literacy in schools and society. In addition to professional duties, she sings in her church choir and plays with The Bahama Mamas, a community based, female steel drum band in Roanoke.

Thursday, April 19, 2012
Title: How to Tune Your Lute … or … How Pythagoreans Could Have Seen the Ocean from Their Boats
Speaker: Dr. Lee O. Hagglund, Wofford College
Place: Wofford College, Olin Building Room 101
Time: 4 p.m., Refreshments will be served 3:30 – 4 p.m. in Olin Building Room 204.

I. All the music theory you never wanted to know, which is why you didn’t ask
II. The mathematics of temperament…Why the Pythagorean scale was doomed
III. How to tune your lute…or…Ingenious mathematical schemes for getting it right
A 1965 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, Dankstipendiat at the University of Munich, and NASA Fellow, Prof. Hagglund received his doctorate in Topological Algebra from Duke University. He first taught at Waynesburg College, where he served as Chairman of the Mathematics Department 1975-77. He has been at Wofford since the fall of 1977. Continuing interest has led him to be active in the problem sections of The American Mathematical Monthly and Mathematics Magazine throughout his career, while recent interests include cryptology and algebraic coding theory. Music has always been a passion. For years he was a professional folk singer, and in Munich he sang in the Munich Bach Choir under the direction of Karl Richter. He has directed church choirs for the last 31 years, the last 20 as Chancel Choir Director at St. John’s Lutheran Church.

This year’s colloquia are being coordinated by Joseph Spivey of the Wofford mathematics faculty. For further information, please contact Spivey at 597-4903. The series is named in honor of Prof. Guy Jacobsohn of USC Upstate (1938 – 2003), one of its founders and most enthusiastic supporters.