The Mathematics of Doodling

Speaker: Ravi Vakil

Date: Mon, May 30, 2011

Location: PIMS, University of British Columbia

Conference: 2011 Niven Lecture

Subject: Mathematics

Class: Scientific


Doodling has many mathematical aspects: patterns, shapes, numbers, and more. Not surprisingly, there is often some sophisticated and fun mathematics buried inside common doodles. I'll begin by doodling, and see where it takes us. It looks like play, but it reflects what mathematics is really about: finding patterns in nature, explaining them, and extending them. By the end, we'll have seen some important notions in geometry, topology, physics, and elsewhere; some fundamental ideas guiding the development of mathematics over the course of the last century; and ongoing work continuing today.