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Pi Mu Epsilon hosts mathematician Jim Brown

Elon's chapter of the national mathematics honor society hosted a special guest lecture by mathematician Dr. Jim Brown (Clemson University) on Wednesday, October 29, 2014.

​Brown's talk, "Right triangles and a million dollars" focused on a seemingly innocuous problem that has connections to a famous unsolved problem in mathematics.  The innocuous problem is this: which positive integers can be the area of a right triangle whose sides have integer lengths?

Brown discussed how this problem can be translated into a related problem about finding rational numbers that are points on certain graphs (these graphs are called elliptic curves).  It turns out that we can generate all such rational numbers with knowledge of just a finite number of them.  The unsolved problem related to elliptic curves and this finite number is known as the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjecture, and its solution is worth $1 million.

Two lucky students each won a door prize: a $10 Starbucks gift card.  These students were Erin Donahue '15 and Julie Merritt '16.

The event concluded with Pi Mu Epsilon's faculty adviser, assistant professor of mathematics Chad Awtrey, promoting the society's final guest speaker of the semester.  On Wednesday, November 19, Dr. Todd Mateer from the National Security Agency will give a special guest lecture.  His talk will take place in Duke 302 from 3:30pm-4:30pm.  All in Elon's community are welcome to attend.  Students interested in STEM careers are especially encouraged to attend, since Dr. Mateer will mention potential internships and career opportunities at the NSA.

Dr. Jim Brown, Clemson University

Chad Awtrey,
11/6/2014 11:25 AM