Which patterns in data are meaningful, and which are inevitable due to the size of the dataset? Why did many of the world's top mathematicians obsess over a question about the card game 'Set'? April is Math Awareness Month, and Cornell’s Department of Mathematics will be celebrating it with a talk by Robert Kleinberg, associate professor of computer science, who will explore these questions and explain what they teach us about the capabilities and limitations of efficient algorithms, Kleinberg's research area. His lecture will be held in Gates Hall Auditorium (G01) on April 20, at 4:30 p.m. A reception will be held beforehand.

According to Mary Ann Huntley, director of mathematics outreach and K-12 education activities for the math department, Math Awareness Month was established nationally to increase public understanding of and appreciation for mathematics. Accordingly, each year the Department of Mathematics sponsors a public lecture on topics in mathematics. In 2017, Alberto Martínez, professor of history at the University of Texas-Austin came to Cornell to speak on “Pythagoras and Other Fictions” and the value of myths in mathematics.

As part of the celebrations, the Department of Mathematics also sponsors a t-shirt design contest at Ithaca High School. Students design t-shirts, and the design that wins – as chosen by Ithaca High School math teachers and Cornell’s Department of Mathematics faculty, staff, and graduate students – is made into t-shirts, distributed to students and faculty who participate in mathematics outreach activities. Throughout the year, the department engages in outreach with the local community, and events focus on facilitating teacher development, providing opportunities for students in grades K-12 and promoting mathematics awareness.

For more information on mathematics events and outreach opportunities, visit http://www.math.cornell.edu/m/Community/community.html.