Steven Strogatz is a popular mathematics radio show host, author, New York Times columnist and a frequent guest on National Public Radio’s RadioLab who likes to show people the beauty of mathematics that pervades the world, and the universe, around us.
Strogatz will be presenting a public lecture, “Doing Math in Public,” at the University of Nevada, Reno on April 4. The 7 p.m. lecture is part of the College of Science’s annual Discover Science Lecture Series.
In his lecture he will describe his adventures in bringing math to the masses. He takes the trauma out of math in a fun, upbeat and sometimes interactive presentation with examples from his latest book, “The Joy of x: A Guided Tour of Math, from One to Infinity” and his New York Times series of 15 blogs.
As an applied mathematics professor at Cornell University, his work, among other things, involves mathematical explorations of the small-world phenomenon in social networks (popularly known as “six degrees of separation”) and its generalization to other complex networks in nature and technology; the role of crowd synchronization in the wobbling of London’s Millennium Bridge on its opening day; and the dynamics of structural balance in social systems.
“Steven is a fun and engaging speaker,” Jeff Thompson, physicist and dean of the College of Science, said. “He’ll open our eyes to the math that’s all around us.”
After graduating summa cum laude in mathematics from Princeton in 1980, Strogatz studied at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He did his doctoral work in applied mathematics at Harvard, followed by a National Science Foundation postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard and Boston University. From 1989 to 1994, Strogatz taught in the Department of Mathematics at MIT. He joined the Cornell faculty in 1994.
Strogatz works in the areas of nonlinear dynamics and complex systems, often on topics inspired by the curiosities of everyday life. He is perhaps best known for his 1998 Nature paper on “small-world” networks, co-authored with his former student Duncan Watts. As one measure of its impact it was the most highly cited paper about networks between 1998 and 2008, across all scientific disciplines, as well as the sixth most highly cited paper –on any topic – in physics.
His second New York Times series, Me, Myself and Math, appeared in fall 2012. Strogatz has also filmed a series of 24 lectures on Chaos for the Teaching Company’s Great Courses series. He is the author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos (1994), Sync (2003), and The Calculus of Friendship (2009). His most recent book, The Joy of x, was published in October 2012.
Now in its third year, the annual Discover Science Lecture Series features several presentations a year and has brought some of the world’s leading scientists to the Reno-Sparks community to share their knowledge, including anthropologist Anna Roosevelt, physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, Nobel Laureate and physicist Eric Cornell, chemist and green energy expert Harry Gray and Jeff Lieberman, musician, artist, researcher and host of “Time Warp” on the Discovery Channel.
This year the lecture series featured Bill Nye the Science Guy, Robert Trivers, evolutionary biologist, Michio Kaku,futurist and theoretical physicist and Doug Smith, director of the Yellowstone Wolf Project.
Admission is free. Lectures are held in the Redfield Auditorium, Davidson Mathematics and Science Center at the University of Nevada, Reno.