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Visiting Professor Discusses Mathematical Life

Visiting Professor Discusses Mathematical Life

FEB. 11, 2002-Dr. Keith Devlin, noted mathematician and author, senior researcher at Stanford University, and executive director of Stanford's Center for the Study of Language and Information ( will be giving several different lectures over a period of two days, February 28 and March 1, at two different campuses of the Collin County Community College District. All of these lectures will be free and open to the community.

Dr. Devlin has a B.S. in Mathematics from King's College London (1968) and a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Bristol (1971). He contributes regularly to National Public Radio's Weekend Edition as the "Math Guy" and to other local and national radio programs in the U.S. and abroad. He writes a monthly column called "Devlin's Angle" on the Internet journal for the Mathematical Association of America (

On Thursday, February 28, Dr. Devlin will spend the morning at Preston Ridge campus, 9700 Wade Blvd. in Frisco, where his itinerary includes a discussion called "The Math Gene: How Mathematical Thinking Evolved and Why Numbers Are Like Gossip," from 8:30 to 9:45 a.m. with a math class in room U107.

On Friday, March 1, Dr. Devlin will spend half a day at Spring Creek campus, 2800 E. Spring Creek Parkway in Plano. From 9 to 10:00 a.m. he will discuss "Music and Mathematics" in classroom B187 with Hector Guzman, director of the Plano Symphony Orchestra, and from 10 to 11 a.m. he will discuss "Language and Mathematics" with the combined classes of Kay Mizell, director of the Honors Institute, and R. Scott Yarbrough, 2001 Piper Professor of English. A more general address, "How Did Mathematical Ability Evolve?" will follow in the conference center at 11:00 a.m.

Much of Devlin's research involves how information, language and mathematics all relate to one another. Unlike mathematician John Forbes Nash, whose scattered imagination is depicted in the recent movie "A Beautiful Mind," Dr. Keith Devlin believes that logic and emotion cannot be wholly divorced from one another, that in fact they are highly interdependent. In two of his recent columns for the MAA, Devlin argues:

"The mathematical aspect of this movie is... incidental. It's about two people's struggle with the severe mental illness of one of them. Personally, I can think of no story that has greater emotional content."

"Take away the emotions and the result is a person who, while able to conduct an intelligent conversation and score highly on standard IQ tests, is not at all rational in his or her behavior. Such people often act in ways highly detrimental to their own well being." ("Devlin's Angle," January 2002 and 2001).

The Honors Institute, host of Dr. Devlin's visit, a campus body which is dedicated to promoting the advantages of higher education by offering a challenging cross-discipline curriculum. Honors coursework may involve simultaneous classes in human genetics, world literature, American government and ethics taught by many of the college's top professors.

Dr. Devlin has 23 books, one interactive CD-ROM and over 65 published research articles to his credit. He is a member of the Mathematical Sciences Education Board of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, a World Economic Forum Fellow, and has received numerous awards, grants and fellowships.