December 5, 2017
7:30 pm
Woods Lecture Series

Jordan Ellenburg "How Not To Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking"

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In this talk, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how wrong this view is: Math touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. It’s a science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument. Drawing from history as well as the latest theoretical developments, Ellenberg demonstrates that profound mathematical ideas are present whenever we reason, from the commonplace to the cosmic. And, he shows how to use this knowledge in our lives, whether you’re a business looking to discover the power of big data, a corporate audience out to improve logic and understanding within your organization, or a college crowd with an appetite for the latest research by one of America’s rising scholarly stars.

 

Math, as Jordan Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” Math helps every kind of thinker think better—it hones our intuition, sharpens our judgment, tames uncertainty, and lets us see the deeper structure and logic of our world. The Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ellenberg is the author of two books: How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, and The Grasshopper King, which was a finalist for the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award. Recently, he served as a consultant (and actor, briefly!) for the film Gifted, directed by Marc Webb, who cast Ellenberg for the role because, in his words: “he’s just a really charismatic teacher.”