September 5, 2018

Princeton Professor Promotes Math and Magic at NYC Museum

MATH & MAGIC: Princeton University Mathematics Professor Manjul Bhargava, recently appointed as the first distinguished chair for the public dissemination of mathematics at The National Museum of Mathematics in New York City (MoMath), will be offering a course titled Math & Magic with Manjul at MoMath from September 12 to December 12. (Photo by Denise Applewhite, Princeton University)

By Donald Gilpin

Recently named inaugural distinguished visiting professor of the National Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), Princeton University Professor Manjul Bhargava will be teaching a course starting next week on math and magic at MoMath in New York.

As the first distinguished chair for the public dissemination of mathematics, a position dedicated to raising public awareness of math, Bhargava will lead the eight-session course from September 12 to December 12, focusing on mathematical concepts such as number theory, group theory, recursion theory, topology, coding theory, and cryptography, and how they reveal secrets behind some of the most puzzling and well-known magic tricks.

These mathematical ideas have also had important applications and have led to recent discoveries in areas beyond magic. The MoMath website description for Bhargava’s course promises “an engaging exploration of magic tricks and the beautiful mathematical ideas that drive them.”

MoMath, at 11 East 26th Street, is in its fifth year of operation, aspiring “to enhance public understanding and perception of mathematics in daily life.” The Math & Magic with Manjul sessions, appropriate for ages 13 and over, will take place on select Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. over the next three months, the first of many events that Bhargava will host at MoMath.

“This eight-week course is a remarkable opportunity for people to spend quality time with one of the most brilliant mathematicians of our time and engage in enlightening one-on-one conversations,” said MoMath Executive Director Cindy Lawrence. “Dr. Bhargava presents a rigorous level of math in a way that appeals to the broad public and connects with math lovers of all ages and abilities.”

She added, “We hope that the creation of the distinguished visiting professorship will create a paradigm shift in the United States, to more publicly demonstrate the value of providing world class mathematics outreach to the public.”

In addition to the 2014 Fields Medal, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for mathematicians, Bhargava has received many other top mathematics honors and awards and was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in 2002.