This afternoon the MAA-AMS-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture was given by Cathy O’Neil, “Big data, inequality, and democracy.”
O’Neil started by giving on overview of what she calls a Weapon of Math Destruction. They are “creepy algorithms,” O’Neil says, ones that are used by large groups of people to make important decisions, and they are algorithms that are secret and unfair. O’Neil has talked about these sorts of algorithms on her blog and in her column for Bloomberg View.
This morning Ben Orlin gave the MAA Lecture for Students and Teachers, “Tic-Tac-Toe (or, What is Mathematics?)” as part of a day-long series of public lectures at the JMM. Orlin writes the blog Math With Bad Drawings, which was recently developed into a book of the same name. A charming high school math teacher with a knack for capturing poignant observations about math with google-eyed stick figures, his talk did not disappoint.
The afternoon was off to a good start for the blogging team. We started at the MAA Project NExT reception to celebrate 25 years of Project NeXt. We met fellow NExTers and got some valuable lessons on networking etiquette from NExT director David Kung and current AMS Congressional Fellow James Ricci. Apparently one should always say “nice to see you” rather than “nice to meet you” just in case, and you should always hold your drink in the left hand to avoid the dreaded clammy handshake (a piece of advice that I apparently failed to internalize).
Your faithful bloggers take an afternoon respite at the MAA Project NExT champagne and cake reception.
This morning, Karen Hunger Parshall talked about the flourishing world of mathematics post WWI in the Roaring Twenties in American Mathematics. Parshall framed the advances of the era through the bifurcation of topology into the point set branch, led by R.L. Moore, and the algebraic branch to Oswald Veblen, and a similar splits in other fields.
In the words of Dieudonne, this was a period of “development and chaos,” and unsurprisingly, the roaring 20’s of math was a whole bunch of white guys.
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