Equations take a bit of working out

August 28, 2012
Leonhard Euler (Basel, 1707 - St Petersburg, 1783.

The myth that mathematical theorems suddenly come together in the most elegant and smooth proofs will be busted at an upcoming lecture.

Associate Professor Hans Lausch, an adjunct senior research fellow in Monash University's School of , will be discussing how mathematical theorems come to exist at his upcoming 'Euler, Gauss and someone else—who got it right and who didn't'.

"This lecture is to illustrate once more that celebrated mathematical results can have, perhaps more often than not, a long gestation period, with leaps and bounds, with errors and dead ends, and with frustration," Associate Professor Lausch said.

"These issues are usually not, or only sparsely, mentioned in text books, so a young student may get the impression that mathematical theorems suddenly come down upon us from heaven together with the most elegant and smooth proofs.

"On the other hand, there have been results, or proofs of results, correct ones as well as erroneous ones that were left unnoticed for a long time and not surprisingly, were rediscovered."

Associate Professor Lausch's lecture is looking at some work of the famous mathematicians Leonhard Euler and Carl Friedrich Gauss and specific theorems they worked on to determine who originally proved those theorems, in comparison to who was thought to have been first to have flawlessly proved them.

His talk is the second of the ', Mathematics, Philosophy and Technology' lecture series, organised by Dr Alan Dorin from the Monash Faculty of Information Technology.

"I hope my lecture will illustrate that great mathematicians are not supermen, but 'only' highly gifted human beings," Associate Professor Lausch said.

Explore further: OK, computation

More information: 'Euler, Gauss and someone else—who got it right and who didn't' will be held from 2-3pm on Thursday, 30 August 2012 in Seminar Room 135, Building 26, at Monash University's Clayton campus.

Related Stories

OK, computation

July 2, 2012

"It seems like Nature has some secret that lets it make complicated stuff in an effortless way," Stephen Wolfram recently told an audience at Oxford University’s Mathematical Institute.

MIT develops lecture search engine to aid students

November 8, 2007

Imagine you are taking an introductory biology course. You're studying for an exam and realize it would be helpful to revisit the professor's explanation of RNA interference. Fortunately for you, a digital recording of the ...

Now you see him

March 8, 2011

Imagine if Harry Potter’s cloak were real , or that you could blot out the sight of something as easily as pressing a mute button to eliminate sound. To some, this seems like “pi in the sky” – fantastic ...

Mathematical models key to tracking gossip, terrorists

December 9, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- Thanks to the Internet and online social networks (OSNs) news and gossip now spread literally like wildfire -- uncontrollably and seemingly without any order. But according to one Ryerson researcher, there ...

Recommended for you

Fatty bird gland preserved over 48 million years

October 18, 2017

(Phys.org)—A team of researchers from the U.S., Ireland, Germany and the U.K. has found evidence of preservation of a fatty oil gland from a 48-million-year-old fossilized bird. In their paper published in Proceedings of ...

Waiting periods reduce deaths from guns, study suggests

October 17, 2017

(Phys.org)—A trio of researchers with Harvard Business School has found evidence that they claim shows gun deaths decline when states enact waiting period laws. In their paper published in Proceedings of the National Academy ...

Roman theater uncovered at base of Jerusalem's Western Wall

October 16, 2017

Israeli archaeologists on Monday announced the discovery of the first known Roman-era theater in Jerusalem's Old City, a unique structure around 1,800 years old that abuts the Western Wall and may have been built during Roman ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

not rated yet Aug 28, 2012
A perfect example of this is Maxwell's EM equations. He spent a lot of time deriving his results as can be seen from his papers. Once he had them, the originals were horrendous and quite cumbersome. It took even more time to generalize them into what we have today.
5 / 5 (1) Aug 29, 2012
"...Ye cubic surfaces! By threes and nines, Draw round his camp your seven-and-twenty lines- The seal of Solomon in three dimensions....."

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.