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Reed College hosts lectures on mathematical graphics in June

In conjunction with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, Reed College will host three lectures on the theory and practice of using graphics in mathematical design

PORTLAND, OR (June 7, 2005) - In conjunction with the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) of Berkeley, California, Reed College will host three lectures on mathematical graphics on June 23, 27, and 29.

The public lectures are co-present by Reed as part of the 2nd annual MSRI Summer Graduate Program in Mathematical Graphics.   The program focuses on the theory and practice of using graphics in mathematical exposition. The techniques of this type of communication have become increasingly sophisticated due to the quality and availability of the supporting tools.   Participants will work together with the program organizers to develop clear presentations of their work using these tools.

The public lectures include "Playing Penrose's Tile Game" with David Austin of Grand Valley State University on June 23; "The Mathematics of Music: with Yvan Saint-Aubin of the Université de Montréal on June 27; and "The Art of Enumeration" with David Wright of Oklahoma State University on June 29.

"The three public lectures associated with the program will be of interest and accessible to anyone interested in mathematical and geometric designs or in the interface between technology, mathematics, and communication," notes Jim Fix, assistant professor of mathematics at Reed. "Really, if you're just excited and curious about the beautiful, almost inscrutable, patterns that arise in science and mathematics, I encourage you to come to the talks!"

The first lecture, "Penrose's Tiling Game" with David Austin, describes this kind of sophisticated pattern. Austin will describe an amazing discovery by the mathematician and physicist Roger Penrose of a pair of diamond-shaped tiles that can completely cover a floor of any size, without any repeat to the pattern. Austin is one of the founders and organizers of the Mathematical Graphics summer program.

The second lecture by Yvan Saint-Aubin on "The Mathematics of Music" will describe the mathematical considerations involved in digital recording of sound and music, in particular, in the development of the compact disc.

The third lecture is by David Wright, the co-author of the book "Indra's Pearls."   The book, and Wright's talk, investigates the work of the geometer Felix Klein and the spectacular visualizations that resulted. An American Mathematical Monthly review of the "Indra's Pearls" notes that the authors "have produced a book that is as handsome in physical appearance as its content is stimulating and accessible. The book is an exemplar of its genre and a singular contribution to the contemporary mathematics literature."

All lectures are free and open to the public.   To learn more about the lectures on mathematical graphics, please visit . For directions and parking, please visit

Playing Penrose's Tile Game
David Austin, Grand Valley State University
Thursday, June 23, 7:30 p.m., psychology auditorium (Psych 105)
In the 1970's, Roger Penrose found a set of tiles that cover the plane in beautiful and remarkable ways. Perhaps even more surprising was the realization a few years later that these tilings could explain new phenomena in crystallography. In this talk, David Austin of Grand Valley State University will describe Penrose tilings and explain the fundamental idea responsible for their behavior as well as a method for constructing them.

The Mathematics of Music
Yvan Saint-Aubin, Université de Montréal
Monday, June 27, 7:30 p.m., biology auditorium (Biology 19)
Mathematics pervades technology, or so claim mathematicians. Yvan Saint-Aubin of the Université de Montréal will present two ways in which mathematics was essential to the establishment of the standard of the compact disc. Saint-Aubin hopes to use his lecture to show that mathematics is indeed among the important players in the development of this successful technology.

The Art of Enumeration
David Wright of Oklahoma State University
Wednesday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., biology auditorium (Biology 19)

In the latter nineteenth century, geometry underwent a radical shift from a study of shapes to a study of the transformations that change one shape into another, or that leave a shape unchanged. For particular shapes, these transformations can have a delicate relationship with one another, and just the abstract enumeration of all the possible combinations of the transformations can be difficult to accomplish in both theoretical and practical senses. In this lecture, David Wright of Oklahoma State University will discuss some of the modern theory of groups of transformations and their practical enumeration by finite state automata, and the beautiful computer graphic images that come from these groups.

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Reed College
Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, is an undergraduate institution of the liberal arts and sciences dedicated to sustaining the highest intellectual standards in the country. With an enrollment of about 1,360 students, Reed ranks third in the undergraduate origins of Ph.D.s in the United States and second in the number of Rhodes Scholars from a liberal arts college (31 since 1915). For more information, visit