2010 Kesarwani Lecture

Theme of December 2010 Kesarwani Lecture

The Secret Life of Mathematics

Jean-Marie De Koninck - Faculté des sciences et de génie, Université Laval

It's not uncommon to hear adults say, or even brag that they are "bad at math". It's evident that this attitude is, unfortunately, positively perceived by society. This indicates how challenging the task is for professors! Although professors attempt to somehow communicate their passion for mathematics, they are forced to fight, on a daily basis, the prejudices of those who perceive math to be reserved for a "select" group of individuals. Yet, mathematics is omnipresent in each of our lives, sometimes explicitly, and more often without us knowing. Moreover, contrary to popular belief, it is possible to demystify mathematics and make it a more comprehensible topic, whether it be for youth or for the "average Joe". In this exposé, we will use concrete examples to illustrate that mathematics sometimes has a ludic character, and sometimes a practical side. Thus, in unveiling the secret life of mathematics, we will discover a fascinating universe wherein no one is "bad at math."