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Drake Humanities Colloquium to feature Prof. Dan Alexander

March 25, 2011
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Dan Alexander

The Humanities Colloquium Series at Drake University will continue Friday, March 25, with a presentation by Dan Alexander, associate professor of mathematics and computer science, about a priority dispute between two mathematicians at a 1918 conference in France.

The presentation, which is free and open to the public, is titled "Who Owns an Idea? The Priority Dispute between Pierre Fatou and Gaston Julia." The event will start at 3:30 p.m. in the Honors Lounge of Medbury Hall, 2730 Forest Ave.

In his talk, Alexander will examine the priority dispute between Fatou and Julia at the 1918 Grand Prix des sciences mathématiques, a mathematical competition sponsored by the French Academy of Sciences. Fatou and Julia prepared remarkably similar responses, and Julia lodged a formal priority dispute with the academy. Alexander will analyze the dispute, its resolution and its reverberations over time.

Alexander teaches a wide range of mathematics courses and his research focuses on the history of mathematical analysis in the early part of the 20th century, especially in France. He is finishing a book titled "Early Days in Complex Dynamics," with Felice Lavernaro of the University of Bari, Italy, and Alessandro Rosa, a programmer from Brindisi, Italy.

The Humanities Colloquium Series features Drake faculty members who offer insights into their current research in the humanities. The series will continue with the following presentations, which will take place from 3:30 to 5 p.m. on Fridays in the Medbury Honors Lounge.

  • April 8 -- Michael Haedicke, assistant professor of culture and society, "Shopping for Social Change: Understanding Political Consumerism in a Cross-National Perspective"
  • April 22 -- Carol Spaulding-Kruse, associate professor of English, and Jennifer Perrine, assistant professor of English, "Imagination as Inquiry: The Role of Research in Creative Writing"

For more information about the series, contact Joseph Schneider, director of the Drake Center for the Humanities, at 515-271-2158 or joseph.schneider@drake.edu.