How Mathematica Has Revolutionized Our Understanding of Mathematics
Stan Wagon
Macalester College
Mathematica has greatly increased our potential to "own"
mathematics by allowing us to make computations and visualizations that greatly enhance
our understanding and appreciation of mathematical concepts. This applies to mathematics
at all levels, and in this talk I will present diverse examples to emphasize the power and
impact of a computational approach to mathematics. Topics will include the following.
 New and shocking formulas for pi
 A computational view of the fourcolor problem
 How to verify differential equations computations
 Investigating the Madelung constant for salt
 Making a square wheel roll
 A surprising application of spacefilling curves to the traveling salesman problem
 Modeling the motion of a thrown book
Stan Wagon is Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Macalester
College in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is a wellknown mathematical expositor, having won the
MAA's Lester R. Ford prize for mathematical exposition in 1987. He is the author
of numerous books, including The BanachTarski Paradox, Mathematica in Action, and The
Power of Visualization: Notes from a Mathematica Course. He is also the developer of the
forthcoming Mathematica Explorer, a Mathematicabased exploration of popular topics in
mathematics.
