The shape of an object, such as a drumskin, determines the sounds that it can make when it vibrates. Conversely, the sounds determine the drum’s perimeter and area. But do the sounds determine the complete shape? This question was asked 35 years ago, but only very recently have mathematicians found the answer.
Ian Stewart read Mathematics at Churchill College, Cambridge before completing his doctorate at the University of Warwick where he is now a Professor of Maths. He was the first recipient of the Christopher Zeeman medal and has held visiting professorships in the United States, Germany and New Zealand. He has given the Royal Institution Christmas lectures and is a fellow of the Royal Society. He was the Gresham Professor of Geometry between 1994 and 1998.