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Exploring Mathematical Ideas from Ancient China

November 03, 2008

Category: Events, Mathematics

From the "mystical" puzzle appearing on a tortoise shell to using number symbolism and algebra to predict the gender of a newborn, mathematics played an important role in Ancient China. From a traditional view of mathematics, they had a sophisticated (and even modern) number system and could perform large calculations. Many of their math problems were practical in nature and in modern language would most likely appear in current math books. However, mathematical ideas permeated their ancient culture. They combined the idea of number and number symbolism in such areas as puzzles, calendars, and even perhaps art.
Dr. Sharon Sullivan, associate professor of mathematics at Catawba College, received her doctorate in mathematics with an emphasis in algebraic combinatorics from the University of Kentucky. Her current research interests include connecting mathematics to various areas of culture. In particular, she has developed courses connecting mathematical ideas to nonwestern societies and exploring mathematics and art. She has attended workshops and presented talks at various conferences dealing with the interdisciplinary aspect of mathematics. Most recently, she attended a workshop in Washington, D.C. on the history of Islamic, Chinese and Indian mathematics.
Join us on Tuesday, November 18, 2008 at 7:30 p.m. in Tom Smith Auditorium of Ralph W. Ketner Hall on the campus of Catawba College as we step back in time to investigate a truly remarkable culture's uses of mathematical ideas. This event is part of Catawba's Year of China celebration. Admission, as always, is FREE.