Happy 200th Birthday George Boole!

Today (November 2, 2015) is the 200th Birthday of the mathematician George Boole.  To celebrate, here is a fantastic song and video created specially for this occasion.

“The Mathematician – The Bould Georgie Boole”
Performed by The Arthur Céilí Band, featuring Jim Flanagan & Mike Simpson

You can also download the song so you can listen to it all the time here:

Besides being a lot of fun, this song and video is a great little biography.  Of course, if you want more info, you can check out George Boole’s Wikipedia page:


That being said, there is one story I would like to point out here.  George Boole worked in many areas, but perhaps the most important area today is what we now call Boolean algebra  (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boolean_algebra).

Introduced by Boole in the around 1850, it was not until the 1930’s that an undergraduate at the University of Michigan named Claude Shannon realized this hitherto abstract theory could be applied to electromechanical relays.   Shannon went on to write a master’s thesis on this topic at MIT.  Since then Boolean algebra has become the basis of digital circuit design.

Here is my challenge to all you undergraduates out there: can you make a connection like Shannon and use a seemingly totally abstract mathematical theory to model some real world phenomena?  Maybe you too can make some revolutionary discovery!


Kudos Ignat Soroko!

It is with great pleasure we congratulate fellow department member Ignat Soroko, who was recently awarded the Provost Certificate of Distinction in Teaching at the Provost Distinguished Graduate Teaching Reception.


Ignat Soroko

Ignat Soroko with Provost Kyle Harper

Ignat Soroko is one of our current graduate students and he is pursuing research in geometric group theory under the guidance of Dr. Noel Brady. And he is evidently one of our more excellent instructors. Congratulations Ignat! You are an inspiration to all of us!!

Departmental Graduation Breakfast

On Saturday, May 10th the Mathematics Department will host our annual breakfast for graduating seniors, Masters and Ph.D students. All graduating students and their families are invited to attend. Please respond to the e-vite sent by Dr. Catherine Hall (chall@ou.edu)


When: Saturday, May 10th, 7:45 am to 9:15 am

Where: Physical Sciences (PHSC) 2nd floor David L. Boren Lobby

Kudos Emily Scheele!!!

50ca3e9862e4f.preview-620Congratulations to one of our Math Majors: Emily Scheele was nominated for and has been awarded the Molly Shi Boren Volunteer award. This award, named after University of Oklahoma first lady Molly Shi Boren, recognizes OU students who have made a significant difference to the OU community by volunteering and making a difference. Please join the blog in congratulating and celebrating the stellar achievement of Emily Scheele.

Winner of the March PoTM

Better late than never, we wanted to tell you that the winner of the March Problem of the Month was Laurence White.  Congratulate him when you see him!

Don’t tell Laurence or Dr. White, but people named White are always trouble :-):

Screen Shot 2012-08-13 at 2.07.12 PM (2)


Maybe things would have gone better if Joe was a mathematician and/or listened to Mr. White:

Joe: He was the only one I wasn’t 100% on. I should have my f****** head examined, going on a plan like this when I wasn’t 100%.
Mr. White: [shouting] That’s your proof?
Joe: You don’t need proof when you have instinct.

Viscount Pierre Deligne wins the 2013 Abel Prize

Pierre Deligne

Pierre Deligne

We are very happy to let you know that Pierre Deligne was awarded the 2013 Abel PrizeAs we mentioned a few years ago, has quickly become one of the most prestigious awards in mathematics.   It’s given to people who have had a long career of deep, important, and influential research.

Unfortunately, unlike last year’s winner Endre Szemerédi, Deligne’s research is not as easy to explain to people.  Fortunately, Tim Gowers has again done a great job of providing us with an easy to read essay about the Abel Prizewinner’s research for nonexperts.  You can find a link to it here on his blog.  We do have to quote his opening paragraph, though:

Pierre Deligne is indisputably one of the world’s greatest mathematicians. He has received many major awards, including the Fields Medal in 1978, the Crafoord Prize in 1988, the Balzan Prize in 2004, and the Wolf Prize in 2008. While one never knows who will win the Abel Prize in any given year, it was virtually inevitable that Deligne would win it in due course, so today’s announcement is about as small a surprise as such announcements can be.

— From Dr. Gower’s Abel Prize essay on Deligne

Because of his many important contributions to math, in 2006 the king of Belgium (Deligne’s home country) made Deligne a viscount.  Deligne designed his own coat of arms:

Only a mathematician would put three chickens on his coat of arms :-)

Only a mathematician would put three chickens on his coat of arms 🙂

The Simons Foundation has a nice biographical essay about Deligne.  They also have a video interview with him where discusses his earliest mathematical memories.  And, of course, slashdot gives it’s usual incisive analysis :-).