Inspiration is for amateurs

I found this fantastic quote by the artist Chuck Close. It was his advice for young artists. However, I think that if you replace artist by researcher,* the same advice applies. I would certainly pass this advice along to young mathematicians: just start working, the ideas will come. Conversely, if you don’t put in the…

Music is math: ten songs about mathematics

Just for fun, here are ten songs about mathematics. Am I missing any good ones? Post them in the comments. 1. Finite Simple Group (of Order 2) by the Klein Four Group (lyrics). This excellent song was written and performed by graduate students at Northwestern University, where I did my graduate work. I think it…

Irving Kaplansky’s “A Song about Pi”

Perhaps I should wait until mid-March to post this, but oh, well. Irving “Kap” Kaplansky (1917–2006), the mathematician and former head of MSRI, was also a pianist and songwriter. In 1973 he brought all of these interests together to pen a song called “A Song about Pi.” The tune is was inspired by the digits of…

Beautiful theorems about dynamical systems on the plane

I was reading through some papers written by my Ph.D. advisor (John Franks) from the early 1990’s and was reminded of a few beautiful results about the dynamics of planar homeomorphisms. So I thought I’d share them here. For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, a planar homeomorphism is a bijective…