Share Tweet Share Email

How the math approach can make things simpler

October 26, 2016

math-approach-portraitThe Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center are pleased to announce the fall 2016 Presidential Teaching Professor Seminar. Dr. Harvey Blau, distinguished teaching professor of the Department of Mathematical Sciences in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will share insights on how Math Can Make Things Simple; That’s Why It’s Hard.

All staff, regardless of designation, are invited to attend. Students are also welcome. The seminar will be held in the Holmes Student Center Capitol Room from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov.1, 2016. No registration is required.

Much of human activity is context-driven, and we tend to prefer contexts that are familiar. But familiar habits of thought may complicate, if not sidetrack, the solution of important problems. Mathematical perspective is about discarding the irrelevant and focusing on what is essential. Since this can involve leaving one’s comfort zone, it is not always easily achieved. However, the guided study of diverse, specific instances of a fundamental principle can sometimes loosen the grip of false preconceptions, and facilitate the understanding and application of the principle itself. We’ll look at a variety of examples, and try to demonstrate that most of us can use the mathematical approach to our advantage, whether or not we’re actually “doing math.”

Harvey Blau is a distinguished teaching professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences, where he has taught for 47 years. He has directed eight Ph.D. dissertations in his research areas of algebra and algebraic combinatorics, while over 800 prospective high school mathematics teachers have been among his students in Math 353 (Axiomatic Geometry), for which his textbook, Foundations of Plane Geometry (Whittier Publications, 2008) is used. His 60+ research articles have included joint work with colleagues in Germany, China and Israel.

This seminar is sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Faculty Development and Instructional Design Center.