Gillian Vaisey Memorial Lecture

How to bake Pi: Making Abstract Mathematics Palatable

Dr Eugenia Cheng

Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Honorary Fellow of the University of Sheffield and Honorary Visiting Fellow of City University, London.

Why does mathematics inspire love in some people and fear in others? Why do some people think mathematics is important for everyone while others think it is a collection of gibberish touching little of the world beyond the brains of some rare geniuses? Why do some think it is a creative art akin to poetry and music, while others think it is a boring tool for producing answers?

In this talk Dr Cheng will present mathematics as a way of thinking, and not just about numbers. Using a variety of unexpectedly connected examples including music, juggling and baking, as in the title of her recent book. Dr Cheng’ aim is to show that maths can be made fun, intriguing and relevant for people of all ages, by means of hands-on activities, examples that everyone can relate to, and peculiar anecdotes.

Dr Cheng will present surprisingly high level mathematics, including some advanced abstract algebra usually only seen by maths undergraduates or PhD students, yet show how to make it accessible even to children. The message is relevant to those who wish to spread their love of maths, as well as those who wish to overcome their fear of it. The talk will be accessible to all, including maths-loving children as young as eight and maybe younger. There will be a distinct emphasis on edible examples.

Free, no booking required, open to all.