
Address: Mathematics 25337
 Caltech  Pasadena, CA 91125
Telephone: (626) 3954335  Fax: (626) 5851728
The 15th Annual Charles
R. DePrima Memorial
Undergraduate Mathematics Lecture
Tuesday, February 7, 2006
4:15 p.m. 151 Sloan
ROGER HOWE
William R. Kenan, Jr.
Professor of Mathematics
Yale University
Birthdays, Curses and Primes
Abstract: Many people have been surprised to learn that, in a group of only
23 people, the odds are better than even that two people will have the same
birthday. However, this fact is usually treated as an isolated curiosity. In
fact, the mathematics behind the calculation of birthday coincidences can
illuminate many aspects of our lives. It impinges on our ideas about social
justice and equality. It can help us understand the rise of legends about
curses, and the blessings of winning lotteries. The same mathematics can
also tell us about tossing coins and the distribution of prime numbers. This
talk will explore a variety of phenomena related to the mathematics of the
birthday coincidence surprise.
Roger Howe is the William R. Kenan, Jr.
Professor of Mathematics at Yale University. Dr. Howe holds a bachelor's
degree from Harvard University and received his doctorate from the
University of California at Berkeley in 1969. His main research interests
are in group representation theory, harmonic analysis, automorphic forms and
invariant theory. Some fundamental directions in the representation theory
of Lie groups and automorphic forms, such as the dual reductive pairs, are
due to him. He has participated in several national initiatives aimed at
improving the teaching of mathematics. In 1998 he served as chair of the
American Mathematical Society's Consultative Committee involved in a
revision of national mathematics standards, and he served as chair of the
AMS Committee on Education from 2001 to 2004. For many years was on the
board of directors of the Connecticut Academy for Education in Mathematics,
Science and Technology. In addition, he served on the National Research
Council's Study Committee on Mathematics Learning. He is the currently chair
of Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Mathematical Sciences in
Singapore. Howe is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Connecticut Academy of Science
and Engineering. His other honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the
Mathematical Association of America's Lester R. Ford Award for exposition.
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.
