Mathematics of Doodling Topic of Moody Lecture

March 22, 2013

Professor Ravi Vakil
Professor Ravi Vakil

Four-time Putnam Fellow and Stanford University mathematics Professor Ravi Vakil will present the fifth lecture in the Michael E. Moody Lecture Series at 7 p.m. Friday, April 19, in the Galileo McAlister Lecture Hall at Harvey Mudd College.

Vakil’s talk, “The Mathematics of Doodling,” will explore the mathematical aspects—patterns, shapes, numbers and more—of doodling.

The lecture is free and open to the public. Dessert and refreshments will follow the presentation.

“There is often some sophisticated and fun mathematics buried inside common doodles. I’ll begin doodling, and see where it takes us,” said Vakil. “It looks like play, but it reflects what mathematics is really about: finding patterns in nature, explaining them and then extending them.”

Vakil is an algebraic geometer, whose work touches on other parts of mathematics, including topology, string theory, combinatorics, number theory and applied mathematics. He received his doctorate in mathematics from Harvard University and taught at Princeton University and MIT before joining the Stanford faculty in 2001. His honors include the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Teaching, an American Mathematical Society Centennial Fellowship, a Sloan Research Fellowship and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

He currently serves as the 2012-2014 Mathematical Association of America’s Pólya Lecturer and mentors talented mathematicians ranging from high school through graduate-level students.

The Michael Moody Lecture Series illuminates the joy, wonder and applicability of mathematics. The series was established by the HMC Mathematics Department in honor of Professor Michael Moody, who served as the department chair from 1996 to 2002. Under Moody’s leadership, the department revised its curriculum, rejuvenated the senior-thesis program and tripled the number of math majors. He was also a guiding force that led to the department’s receipt of the American Mathematical Society’s inaugural award for an Exemplary Program or Achievement in a Mathematics Department in 2006. Moody passed away in January 2010, and later that year was posthumously named an Honorary Alumnus of Harvey Mudd College.