Mathemagician Art Benjamin to Receive Public Outreach Award

Arthur Benjamin, the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College, will receive the 2017 JPBM Communications Award for Public Outreach. The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) represents the American Mathematical Society, the American Statistical Association, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. Presented annually, the JPBM Communications Award recognizes outstanding achievement in communicating about mathematics to non-mathematicians.

Benjamin is honored for his books aimed at general audiences, his TED talks, his popular video courses from The Great Courses, and his “mathemagics” performances. His work demonstrates “his ability and commitment to share the joy of mathematics, and excites and engages audiences at all levels,” the prize citation says.

Benjamin is an unusual breed: He is both a mathematician and a magician. The two roles combine to make him a remarkable teacher, a writer whose works appeal to a wide variety of readers, and a performer who can enlighten as well as entertain.

As a magician, Benjamin performs a mixture of math and magic to audiences all over the world, including the Magic Castle in Hollywood. He has demonstrated and explained his calculating talents in his book and DVD Course, Secrets of Mental Math and on numerous television programs. He has been featured in many national newspapers and magazines and has given three TED talks, which have been viewed over 12 million times. Princeton Review recently profiled him in the book, The Best 300 Professors. Reader’s Digest calls Benjamin “America’s Best Math Whiz.”

Arthur Benjamin earned his bachelor’s degree in applied mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University and his doctorate in mathematical sciences from Johns Hopkins University. Since 1989, he has taught at Harvey Mudd College, where he is the Smallwood Family Professor of Mathematics and past chair. In 2000, he received the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching from the Mathematical Association of America.

Read an interview with Benjamin that appears in the January 2017 issue of the Notices of the AMS.

The award will be presented Thursday, January 5, 2017, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Atlanta.