DescriptionWhy does the circle have 360 degrees? Should “nothing” really be a number? Why would Hippo of Pontus be executed for proving that the square root of 2 cannot be a fraction? How did principles of CAD/CAM help Romans beat the Carthaginians? Why is Newton indebted to German freight shippers? How did mathematics dominate 17th to 20th century philosophy? Why do we believe in infinity? Why do we believe in mathematics? While it may not be too unusual to hear that mathematical progress was critical to developments in science and engineering, it may come as more of a surprise that mathematics strongly affected areas as diverse as art and architecture, politics and war, philosophy and religion. In the first lecture I give a gentle explanation of four ancient systems of mathematics, viz. Egyptian, Babylonian, Greek and Mayan; and examine how they influenced their societies. In the second lecture I outline the historical development of mathematics and its influence up to modern times; and look at the ”religious” beliefs we still hold in today’s mathematics.
Dr. Alyn P. Rockwood is Associate Director of the Geometric Modeling and Scientific Visualization Research Center, and Professor of Applied Mathematics at KAUST. At the pioneering graphics company Evans and Sutherland, he led a team that first achieved certification from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for a pilot training simulator, which allowed pilots to train completely for new aircraft on a simulator. At Silicon Graphics, Inc, he developed the method for rendering curved surfaces in real time that is integral to OpenGL today. These and other innovations led the Association for Computing Machinery's Special Interest Group on Graphics and Interactive Techniques (ACM SIGGRAPH), the premier organization in computer graphics, to appoint him as Research Papers Chair in 1999 and Conference Chair in 2003. Recently, as vice president, he led a multi-million-dollar initiative to create the new conference, SIGGRAPH in Asia. Dr. Rockwood has been in academics at Arizona State University and Colorado School of Mines, where he was Assistant Head of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science and Director of Graduate Studies. He has received several teaching awards, the COFES 2007 Innovation in Technology Award, and the CAD Society "Heroes of Engineering" Award. His current research is focused on developing new modeling techniques for industrial design and animation, volume meshing for FE analysis, a new basis for image processing, and engineering applications of Clifford Algebra. Dr. Rockwood has published more than 70 peer-reviewed articles, secured six patents, co-founded three successful start-up companies and written three books, including one novel.
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