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Public Lectures

The IMA Public Lectures are free and open to the public.

The IMA Public Lecture Series features distinguished mathematicians and scientists who illuminate the role of mathematics in understanding our world and shaping our lives. The purpose of these talks is to give the public a better understanding about how contemporary mathematical ideas are applied to important technological and scientific problems, conveying the significance and excitement of these applications. These engaging and informative lectures are designed for a broad audience, appropriate for middle-school students and older. This well-established series regularly draws diverse audiences of several hundred people.

  2014-2015 Public Lectures
Arnold Family Lecture - The Living Art of Mathematics
7:00 P.M., Wednesday, April 22, 2015
2-470 Phillips-Wangensteen Building
516 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Cédric Villani, University of Lyon & Institut Henri Poincaré


Villani will explore how mathematicians, obsessed with the notion of elegance, consider themselves as artists and poets in a form of art that is more alive than ever. Examples include the collaborative images of mathematician Richard Palais and graphic artist Luc Bénard created using 3D-XplorMath software, and Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations paintings that were inspired by photographs of mathematical models made in the 1930s. Villani will also show how the intuition and creative genius of mathematicians have been inspiring artists for years.

Cédric Villani is a French mathematician working primarily on partial differential equations and mathematical physics. He is a professor at the University of Lyon and the director of the Institut Henri Poincaré. Villani has been the recipient of the Jacques Herbrand Prize, the Prize of the European Mathematical Society, the Fermat Prize, and the Henri Poincaré Prize. In 2010, he was awarded the Fields Medal for his work on nonlinear Landau damping and the Botlzmann equation.

Villani is the author of Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, a memoir of the years leading up to his Fields Medal. The book will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

Waving Tails, Spiny Disks, and Sticky Situations: Explorations in Biological Fluid Dynamics
7:00 P.M., Wednesday, March 11, 2015
2-650 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Lecture Video
Lisa Fauci, Tulane University

Phytoplankton floating in the ocean, sperm moving through the reproductive tract, and fish swimming in the sea all rely on an intricate interplay of forces. These are examples of how flexible structures interact with a surrounding fluid – a common theme in biological fluid dynamics. This lecture will explore how mathematical models and computational simulations are being used to study some intriguing biological systems.

Lisa Fauci holds a Ph.D. in math from New York University and is the Pendergraft Nola Lee Haynes Professor of Mathematics at Tulane University. Her research focuses on fluid dynamics, mathematical biology, and scientific computing. In particular, she uses methods from computational fluid dynamics to understand biological processes, such as sperm motility, the neuromechanics of locomotion, and phytoplankton dynamics in the ocean. She is a world-renowned speaker on the topic of biological fluid dynamics.

Toy Models
7:00 P.M., Thursday, October 30, 2014
2-650 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Lecture Video
Tadashi Tokieda, University of Cambridge

Would you like to come see some toys? "Toys" here have a special sense: objects of daily life that you can find or make in minutes, yet which, if played with imaginatively, reveal surprises that keep scientists puzzling for a while. Table-top demonstrations of several such toys will be presented, and we will visit some of the science that they open up.

Tadashi Tokieda, the Director of Studies in Mathematics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, grew up in Japan, was educated in France, used to be a classical philologist, and has a Ph.D. from Princeton. One of his lines of activity is inventing, collecting, and studying toys. Some of these toys have been featured in shows and exhibits in various countries.

How to Use Geometry to Get Rich Playing the Lottery*
7:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 30, 2014
2-650 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis
Lecture Video
Jordan Ellenberg, University of Wisconsin at Madison

For seven years, a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology exploited a loophole in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s Cash WinFall to win game after game, eventually pocketing more than $3 million. Jordan Ellenberg will talk about how they did it, why they got away with it, the mathematical notions of expected value and variance, and the surprising relationship of all this with projective geometry.

Ellenberg is the author of the New York Times bestseller How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking and the novel The Grasshopper King. Both books will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture.

*Sadly, will not actually help you get rich playing the lottery.

  2013-2014 Public Lectures
  2012-2013 Public Lectures
  2011-2012 Public Lectures
  2010-2011 Public Lectures
  2009-2010 Public Lectures
  2008-2009 Public Lectures
  2007-2008 Public Lectures
  2006-2007 Public Lectures
  2005-2006 Public Lectures
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