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How Mathematica Has Revolutionized Our Understanding of Mathematics

Stan Wagon
Macalester College

Stan Wagon

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 four-color problem
  • How to verify differential equations computations
  • Investigating the Madelung constant for salt
  • Making a square wheel roll
  • A surprising application of space-filling 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 well-known 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 Banach-Tarski 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 Mathematica-based exploration of popular topics in mathematics.