Department of Mathematics

Van Vleck Hall, 480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI

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In Memoriam: Richard Askey

Richard Askey died on October 9, 2019 after a short illness. He joined the UW Department of Mathematics in 1963 and retired in 2003 after 40 years of service.

Dick was a member of the National Academy  of Sciences and a Honorary Fellow of the Indian Mathematical Society.  He was named Gabor Szego Professor of Mathematics in 1986 and was awarded a John Bascom Professorship in 1995. He had 13 Ph.D. students,, but his influence went far beyond his students. Professor Askey was passionate about mathematics and mathematics education. He excelled in research, teaching, and service to the university and to the mathematics community. He was once described as a `national treasure.’



Obit:  Link

Shusterman jointly publishes proof of twin primes problem

Two mathematicians, Will Sawin of Columbia University and Mark Shusterman of University of Wisconsin-Madison, recently posted a proof of a version of one of the most famous open problems in mathematics. The result opens a new front in the study of the twin primes conjecture, which has bedeviled mathematicians for more than a century and has implications for some of the deepest features of arithmetic.

The twin primes conjecture concerns pairs of prime numbers with a difference of 2. The numbers 5 and 7 are twin primes. So are 17 and 19. The conjecture predicts that there are infinitely many such pairs among the counting numbers, or integers. Mathematicians made a burst of progress on the problem in the last decade, but they remain far from solving it.

The new proof solves the twin primes conjecture in a smaller but still salient mathematical world. They prove the conjecture is true in the setting of finite number systems, in which you might only have a handful of numbers to work with.

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Jordan Ellenberg Elected A.D. White Professor at Large at Cornell

Jordan Ellenberg joins a Nobel Prize-winning physicist, another bestselling author and a leader in global sustainable agriculture are among six newly elected Andrew Dickson White Professors-at-Large at Cornell.

The professors-at-large program at Cornell sponsors up to 20 outstanding scholars and public intellectuals at one time, in the life sciences, physical sciences, humanities, social sciences and the arts.

In each three-year period during their term, professors-at-large visit campus for about a week while classes are in session, to interact with students and faculty and enliven the intellectual and cultural life of the university. The program sponsors up to six visits per academic year, and activities such as public lectures and seminars.

Their six-year terms are effective July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2025. Candidates are nominated by Cornell faculty members; appointments are considered following review and recommendation by a faculty selection committee.


Jordan Ellenberg's Hawking Index predicts book unreadability

In The Guardian, Jordan Ellenberg explains his own way of calculating a book’s unreadability, which he dubbed the Hawking Index. Ellenberg looked at the sections that readers have highlighted on Amazon’s Kindle e-readers, and infers that after they’ve stopped highlighting, they’ve probably stopped reading. Link:


UW-Madison Department of Mathematics
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