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Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Professor Satyan Devadoss (University of San Diego) explores some of the most fascinating unsolved problems in mathematics. In the first mini-lecture, we discuss reasons why we should care about cutting-edge mathematics, emphasising the beauty of such mathematics over its usefulness. In the second mini-lecture, we learn about the infinite list of prime numbers and consider the unsolved problem of whether there are infinitely many twin primes. In the third mini-lecture, we look at an unsolved problem called the Happy Ending Problem, that involves drawing simple objects such as dots, lines, and polygons. In the fourth mini-lecture, we look at an unsolved problem in mathematics that involves tying knots. In the fifth mini-lecture, we think about an unsolved problem involving the side and diagonal lengths of boxes, as well as how to draw three-dimensional boxes on a flat plane.

About the Lecturer

Satyan Devadoss is the Fletcher Jones Chair of Applied Mathematics and Professor of Computer Science at the University of San Diego. His research interests are in topology and geometry, with inspiration coming from theoretical physics, phylogenetics, and scientific visualization. He was a professor of mathematics for 15 years at Williams College prior to arriving at the University of San Diego, and has held visiting positions at Ohio State, UC Berkeley, Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Harvey Mudd, and Stanford.

Professor Devadoss is an inaugural fellow of the American Mathematical Society. He has been awarded three prestigious teaching wards by the Mathematical Association of America: (i) the Henry L Alder National Teaching Award in 2007, to honour young faculty whose teaching has influence beyond their own classrooms; (ii) the Northeastern Sectional Award for Distinguished Teaching in 2014, for teaching that has been extra ordinarily successful; (iii) and the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo National Teaching Award in 2016, to honour teachers who have been widely recognised as extraordinarily successful.

Professor Devadoss is a coauthor of the textbook Discrete and Computational Geometry (2011), and a coauthor of the tradebook Mage Merlin's Unsolved Mathematical Mysteries (2020). In 2017, he led a team at the University of San Diego to receive a $1M grant from the Fletcher Jones Foundation for the renovation of the mathematics department. The centrepiece of this renovation is his Math Studio that serves as a laboratory promoting the physical experience surrounding mathematics research.