Wednesday, 16 January 2008, 12:00AM
Barnard's Inn Hall

Squaring the circle and other impossibilities

Professor Robin Wilson

WE ALL HAVE OUR PROBLEMS Mathematicians can be divided into theory-builders and problem-solvers. In these lectures, we look at some problems that have fascinated mathematicians for 2000 years, concluding with a discussion of the future. Squaring the circle and other impossibilities The three classical problems of Ancient Greece - squaring the circle, trisecting the angle and doubling the cube - remained unsolved until the 19th century. What were they, what methods were tried for tackling them, and how were they eventually solved?

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Professor Robin Wilson is Emeritus Gresham Professor of Geometry, a professor in the Department of Mathematics at the Open University, and a Stipendiary Lecturer at Pembroke College, Oxford. Professor Wilson also regularly teaches as a guest Professor at Colorado College.

Professor Wilson's academic interests lie in graph theory, particularly in colouring problems, e.g. the four colour problem, and algebraic properties of graphs. He also researches the history of mathematics, particularly British mathematics and mathematics in the 17th century and the period 1860 to 1940 and the history of graph theory and combinatorics.

Outside of the strict mathematical canon, Professor Wilson is particularly interested in the musical output of Gilbert and Sullivan - an interest that has given rise to publications and two Gresham College lectures: 'The Other Side of Sullivan' and 'A Sing-In with Gilbert and Sullivan'.

Prior to his appointment as Gresham Professor of Geometry in 2004, he was the Visiting Professor in the History of Mathematics. Upon his appointment to the Geometry chair, Professor Wilson said: "Mathematics is, and has always been a central part of human culture, and I do not believe that one can fully understand the subject if it is separated from its historical roots. My proposed lectures are designed to support this conviction."

All of Professor Wilson's past lectures can be accessed here.

Current Gresham Professor of History of mathematics

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16 January 2008

Squaring the circle and other impossibilities
Professor Robin Wilson

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