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The College of Arts Sciences

Mathematics Awareness Month Public Lecture Series

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Mathematics Awareness Month is held each year in April. Its goal is to increase public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics. To that end Cornell's Department of Mathematics sponsors an annual public lecture in keeping with each year's theme. To learn more about Mathematics Awareness Month, its history and previous years’ themes, visit

Upcoming Lectures

The next lecture in this series will take place on Friday April 20, 2018 - Gates Auditorium
Refreshments served at 4:00 p.m.
Talk begins at 4:30 p.m. 

Bobby Kleinberg, Cornell University (poster)
Card Games, Inevitable Patterns, and Computation

Math entices us with games and puzzles, inspires us to discover absolute truths about numbers, spaces, and symmetries, and furnishes us with methods for tackling practical problems. Every so often, these three roles converge. In the summer of 2016 mathematicians solved the “cap set problem,” a famous open question in additive combinatorics that can be explained using a generalization of the card game SET. The solution astonished the mathematical world with its simplicity and sparked a frenzy of research applying the new discovery to other problems, including the seemingly unrelated question of how rapidly one can multiply matrices on a computer. I will explain what the cap set problem is, why the solution is considered surprising and beautiful, and what it teaches us about computation.

If you need accommodations to participate in this event, please contact Heather Peterson.

Previous Lectures in the Series