Department of Mathematics

Address: Mathematics 253-37 | Caltech | Pasadena, CA 91125
Telephone: (626) 395-4335 | Fax: (626) 585-1728

The 9th Annual Charles R. DePrima Memorial
Undergraduate Mathematics Lecture

Tuesday, November 28, 2000
4:15 p.m.  Sloan 151

The Shape of the Universe
by Robert Osserman


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Robert Osserman wrote his 1955 Ph.D. thesis on the subject of Riemann surfaces under the direction of Lars V. Ahlfors at Harvard University. Since then he has made many fundamental contributions to geometric function theory and differential geometry.

After obtaining his Ph.D., he joined the faculty of Stanford University and has been there ever since. While on leave he served as Head of the Mathematics Branch at the Office of Naval Research, Fulbright Lecturer at the University of Paris, and Guggenheim Fellow at the University of Warwick. A number of his Ph.D. students have gone on to become well-known mathematicians.

In 1987, he became Mellon Professor for Interdisciplinary Studies and is currently Professor Emeritus. In 1990 he joined the MSRI as half-time Deputy Director and in 1995 became the first (and only) Special Projects Director.

Among Professor Osserman's outreach activities were his role in the 1993 Fermat Fest (at the Palace of Fine Arts Theater in San Francisco) and its subsequent videotape, his 1999 public conversation with playwright Tom Stoppard on Mathematics in Arcadia (also available on videotape), and his critically acclaimed book, Poetry of the Universe — A Mathematical Exploration of the Cosmos.


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The Charles R. DePrima Memorial Undergraduate Mathematics Lecture was established by a gift from Charles R. DePrima and Margaret Thurmond DePrima. The Institute is privileged to honor the memory of Professor DePrima and his distinguished contribution to mathematics and Caltech, where he served as a faculty member for over forty years, with a lecture each year by an outstanding mathematician.