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Prof. DeAlba to give Stalnaker Lecture Tuesday

September 10, 2007
Luz Maria DeAlba
Luz Maria DeAlba

CONTACT: Tory Olson, 515-271-1834,

Luz Maria DeAlba, professor of mathematics and computer science, will give the annual Luther W. Stalnaker Lecture at Drake University on Tuesday, Sept. 18. The lecture titled "Combinatorial Matrix Theory: Origins and Applications," will start at 7 p.m. in Sheslow Auditorium in Old Main, 2507 University Ave. A reception will follow in Levitt Hall, Old Main. The lecture and reception are free and open to the public.

DeAlba joined the Drake Mathematics and Computer Science Department in 1984 and served as department chair from 1997-99. While at Drake, she has taught a variety of mathematics and computer science courses, and contributes to her profession through articles, book chapters, technology manuals and solutions to problems. DeAlba was awarded a Windsor Professorship in 2001. Her principal research focuses on the mathematics subject area of Combinatorial Matrix Theory, from which she derived the topic for this lecture.

In her lecture, DeAlba will explore the timeline of how the concepts of determinant and matrix evolved from the 16th century to today. She will give brief accounts of the background and work of the most prominent mathematicians, whose work on these two concepts eventually led to Matrix Theory. Early mathematicians studied and solved physical problems, such as the motion of a wave, or the elasticity of a spring. Although much of their work contained matrix theory ideas, they did not recognize this, and it was not until the 19th century that the study of matrices became an essential part of mathematics.

A matrix is a rectangular table of numbers from which many different ideas arise. Matrix Theory is considered to be a part of linear algebra, and is a branch of mathematics that focuses on the study of matrices. The determinant is a number calculated from the numbers in a matrix. Combinatorics is a branch of mathematics that studies mostly finite objects, and has a sub-area called graph theory. DeAlba will present applications of graph theory and recent developments that show the natural connection between Combinatorics and Matrix Theory.

DeAlba's lecture will be the 23rd of the series at Drake honoring Luther W. Stalnaker, former professor of philosophy and dean of the College of the Liberal Arts from 1940-54. The series is a joint undertaking of the College of Arts and Sciences and its emeriti faculty.

For more information, call 515-271-3939.