Bartlett Lecture

Daniel Bartlett Memorial lecture

A window into the world of mathematics for general audiences...

Bartlett Lecture

The annual Bartlett Memorial Lecture gives the public a window into the nature of mathematics by illustrating the work of renowned mathematicians to general audiences. The lecture, made possible by contributions to the Bartlett Memorial Endowment, was established to memorialize Daniel Bartlett, a remarkable rising mathematician who passed away suddenly in 2006. At the time of his death, Daniel was beginning work in algebraic number theory, the area he envisioned would ground his dissertation work at UA. Daniel’s passion for, and dedication to mathematics, led his family to also establish the Daniel Bartlett Memorial Scholarship, supporting outstanding graduate research in mathematics every summer. The inaugural Bartlett Memorial Lecture was delivered in 2008 by Barry Mazur, Daniel’s undergraduate advisor at Harvard University. 

2024 Lecture

A Mathematics Journey Through Literature with Sarah Hart

Mathematician Sarah Hart

Join us with Sarah Hart as she leads us into an exploration of the many connections between mathematics and literature. She will show the hidden mathematical structures behind everything from poetry to novels and reveal some of the beautiful mathematical imagery and symbolism in fiction, from simple fairy tales to classics like Moby-Dick. We will learn not only how mathematics and literature are inextricably linked, but also how understanding these links can enhance our enjoyment of both subjects.

— In the news: Once upon a Prime, the Wondrous Connection between Mathematics and Literature

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Past Lectures

Best-selling author Simon Singh discusses his most recent book, The Simpsons and Their Mathematical Secrets, revealing the huge number of mathematical references that appear in the world’s most successful TV show, from Euler’s identity to probability, from Mersenne primes to infinity. He discusses his first book, Fermat’s Enigma, the story of the world’s most notorious mathematical problem, Fermat’s last theorem, also appearing in a couple episodes of The Simpsons.

— In the news: Simon Singh’s documentary about Fermat’s Last Theorem was the winner of a BAFTA in the UK and was nominated for an EMMY

Get in the GAME

Sports analytics has gathered tremendous momentum as one of the most dynamic fields. Diving deep into the numbers of sports can be game changing or simply a fun exercise for fans. How do you get in the game with numbers? What questions can be explored? What actionable insights can be gleaned? From March Madness to national media broadcasts, analytics are becoming increasingly indispensable. Dr. Tim Chartier will discuss outlooks that help with successful analytics, and the variety of questions that can be tackled. He will also share how he leads students to dig into sports using math and computer science, and their great success across the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, ESPN and his own college teams. Learn how to get in the game — as a sports analyst!

Watch the lecture (Panopto)

Making Math Visible

Our cultural world is filled with inspiring artifacts that highlight the beauty of art, architecture, and literary thinking, but what is there that analogously emphasizes the beauty of mathematical thinking? Can we create inspiring public art works and cultural activities that will lead to a wider appreciation for the wonders of mathematics? What should be our analog to art galleries, public monuments, and the grand reading rooms of the great libraries? This highly illustrated presentation will explore George Hart’s answers to these questions in terms of beautiful geometric sculpture and hands-on mathematical construction activities.

School teachers, middle and high-school students are especially encouraged to attend.

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

How to use math to get rich in the lotter*

*lecture will not actually help you get rich in the lottery

For seven years, a group of students from the MIT exploited a loophole in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s Cash WinFall game to win drawing after drawing, eventually pocketing more than $3 million. How did they do it? How did the lottery finally catch up with them? And what does this all have to do with probability, geometry, and combinatorics?  This lecture will include an interactive segment, and will be friendly to K-12 teachers, middle and high-school students.

— In the news: How not to be wrong: the power of mathematical thinking (Washington Post)

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

Democracy in Numbers: A Tale of Two Elections

In 2015 alone, more than half a billion votes were cast in one hundred national elections around the word. A large number of those elections were hotly contested, leading to mass violence and significant numbers of fatalities amidst claims of ballot rigging. The growing field of 'election forensics' seeks to develop quantitative tools that can be used to investigate the integrity of the electoral process, and particularly the plausibility of election results. These techniques can be effective for detecting the most obvious types of voting irregularities and fraudulent manipulations, particularly when statistical analyses are supplemented by other types of evidence, including reports from observer missions, election watch NGOs, and journalists. On the academic side, efforts are underway to improve the reliability of these techniques and bring sophisticated analytic methods to bear on the complex interplay between human and technological factors that can influence an election. This talk is an introduction to the mathematics and statistics of election forensics. As a practical application it will focus on the analysis of Senegal's 2000 and 2007 presidential races, and its use in securing the 2012 election. However, other countries and elections will be discussed as well.

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

Patterns and Disorder: How Random Can Random Be?

A tiled floor usually has regular, ordered patterns in it, even if the tiling may be very complicated. We will explore what it means for a mathematical object to be ordered or disordered. For example, do all geometric configurations have to contain patterns? Do large sets of numbers have to contain any patterns? We explore different notions of patterned and random sets, starting with simple, well-known patterns and ending with problems that mathematicians still don’t know how to solve.

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

The Infinite Far Beyond

The modern mathematical study of Infinity began with Cantor’s discovery in the late 1800s that there are different sizes of Infinity and this immediately led to Cantor’s formulation of the Continuum Hypothesis. This is the hypothesis that the cardinalities of the sets defined by the two most basic conceptions of Mathematics, that of the counting numbers and that of the real numbers, represent consecutive sizes of infinity.

Watch the lecture (AZ Public Media)

Chaos Games and Gractal Images

In this lecture we will describe some of the beautiful images that arise from the “Chaos Game.” We will show how the simple steps of this game produce, when iterated millions of times, the intricate images known as fractals. We will describe some of the applications of this technique used in data compression as well as in Hollywood.We will also challenge the audience to “Beat the Professor” at the chaos game and maybe win his computer.

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

The Secrets of Mental Math

Dr. Arthur Benjamin is a Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California. He is also a professional magician, and in his entertaining and fast-paced performance, Dr. Benjamin will demonstrate how to mentally add and multiply numbers faster than a calculator, how to memorize 100 digits of pi, how to figure out the day of the week of any date in history, and other amazing feats of mind. For the last 30 years, he has presented his mixture of math and magic all over the world to thousands of groups.

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

The Fourth Dimension and Salvador Dali

Geometer Thomas Banchoff has been teaching at Brown University since 1967. A graduate of the University of Notre Dame, he received his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1964, and did post-doctoral teaching and research at Harvard University and the University of Amsterdam. At Brown, he and computer science professor Charles Strauss were among the first to produce computer animated, prize-winning films on objects in the fourth dimension.

In the news: Salvador Dali: Where surrealism and mathematics intersect (UA Mathematics Newsletter, Winter 2009, page 14)

Watch the lecture (Vimeo)

The Shape of Space

When we look out on a clear night, the universe seems infinite. However, that may not be so. The presentation will take us on an intriguing tour of several potential shapes of our universe. As the article linked below states, in his work, Weeks collaborates with cosmologists to explore what astronomical observations imply about the large-scale structure of the universe. Weeks' presentation will involve attendees in computer games, interactive 3-D graphics and satellite data in an effort to illustrate the concept of a "multiconnected universe."

The Unity of Mathematics

One may wonder how the Bernoulli numbers, a mere list of rational numbers, can possibly be a “unifying force” in mathematics as the title of my lecture is meant to suggest. Theories, of course, can unify: category theory, for example, or set theory; physicists have their quest for a “unified theory of everything.” We will see how Bernoulli numbers sit in the center of a block diagram of six mathematical fields, and whenever, one of these numbers exhibits some particular behavior, all six of these fields seem to feel the consequences, each in their own way.


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