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CSS colloquium - Robin Wilson, Open University (UK): "Lewis Carroll in Numberland"

Info about event


Wednesday 19 September 2012,  at 15:00 - 17:00



Charles Dodgson is best known for his Alice books, 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' and 'Through the Looking-Glass', written under his pen-name of Lewis Carroll. These books have delighted children and adults for generations and have never been out of print. If he had not written the Alice books, he'd be mainly remembered as a pioneering photographer, one of the first to consider photography as an art rather than as simply a means of recording images. But if Dodgson had not written the Alice books or been a photographer, he might be remembered as a mathematician, the career he held as a lecturer at Christ Church in Oxford University. But what mathematics did he do? How good a mathematician was he? How influential was his work? In this illustrated talk, aimed at a general audience, I'll try to answer these questions. In particular, I'll describe his work in geometry, algebra, logic and the mathematics of voting, in the context of his other activities and, on the lighter side, I present some of the puzzles and paradoxes that he delighted in showing to his child-friends and contemporaries.

Robin Wilson, President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics, is Emeritus Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, Emeritus Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, London, a former Fellow of Keble College, Oxford University, and now teaches at Pembroke College, Oxford. He has written and edited over forty books on mathematics, including 'Introduction to Graph Theory' and 'Four Colours Suffice', and on its history, including 'Lewis Carroll in Numberland'. He is involved with the popularization and communication of mathematics and its history, and in 2005 was awarded a Pólya prize by the Mathematical Association of America for ‘outstanding expository writing’.

No knowledge of mathematics is assumed.

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