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MEDIA ADVISORY: Celebrating Mathematical Achievements in the 20th Century


21 October 2002
Contact: Robert Sanders
(510) 643-6998


A public lecture and panel discussion this week at the University of California, Berkeley, on the achievements of mathematics in the 20th century. The events highlight the 20th anniversary of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, an independent mathematics think-tank with ties to UC Berkeley. Other activities to be held later this year include a mathematics film festival at the Pacific Film Archive and a sold-out conversation in December with comedian Steve Martin.


The Honors Class: Hilbert Problems in Perspective
Wednesday, Oct. 23, 5:30 - 6:30 p.m., 10 Evans Hall, UC Berkeley

Panel discussion about a set of 23 mathematical problems, some of them not yet solved, posed more than 100 years ago by mathematician David Hilbert. A member of the panel, Paul Cohen of the University of Chicago, solved Hilbert's first problem in 1961. Benjamin Yandell, author of the 2001 book, "The Honors Class: Hilbert's Problems and Their Solvers," will join Cohen, Hilbert biographer Constance Reid and Sir Michael Atiyah, former President of the Royal Society, to assess the status of the problems. One mathematician said the solution to even one of these problems would raise its solver into the "honor's class of the mathematical community."

Geometry and Physics - from Plato to Hawking
Saturday, Oct. 26, 5-6 p.m., Chan Shun Auditorium, Valley Life Sciences Bldg., UC Berkeley

Sir Michael Atiyah, Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University, will survey the history of ideas, in particular the constant interplay between geometry and physics. Atiyah was Master of Trinity College, Cambridge, and director of the Newton Institute. In 1966, he was awarded the Fields Medal, the mathematical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.


Founded in 1982 with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute has hosted over 10,000 researchers who attended its broadly based programs in the mathematical sciences and closely related activities. A key factor in its success has been the support and cooperation of UC Berkeley and its Department of Mathematics. In addition to NSF, support for the institute comes from other government agencies, private foundations, and academic and commercial sponsors.