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Math Professor & Author

NYS Writers Institute, October 18, 2005
4:00 p.m. Reading | Standish Room, Science Library

Edward B. Burger is co-author, with Michael Starbird, of "Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz: Making Light of Weighty Ideas" (2005), a playful, understandable guide to such complex mathematical subjects as probability, chaos theory, fractals, cryptography, infinity, and the fourth dimension.

The book uses countless examples from everyday life, and almost two hundred hand-drawn illustrations and diagrams, to make the "big questions" accessible and compelling. For instance, the spirals of a pineapple are used to illustrate the famous Fibonacci numbers, the alluring Golden Ratio, and the underlying basis of aesthetic forms in nature, art, and music. Playing with the notions of probability shows that two people in any group of 45 are 95% likely to have the same birthday. And a simple understanding of topology will enable anyone to take their pants off, and put them on again, with their ankles tied together the entire time.

Coincidences, Chaos, and All That Math Jazz"a delightful book that shows both the fun and the beauty of mathematics." - Alan Lightman, bestselling author of "Einstein's Dreams"

"Informative, intelligent, and refreshingly irreverent. A roller-coaster ride along the frontiers of today's mathematics, and anyone can climb on board. I enjoyed it immensely." - Ian Stewart, author of "Flatterland"

"Burger and Starbird offer readers a wide-ranging tour of counter-intuitive examples… and then, jujitsu-like, show that what at first seems bizarre requires only a new conception." - Dennis Shasha, puzzle columnist for "Scientific American"

Edward B. Burger is Chair of Mathematics at Williams College. He has authored numerous research articles, four books, and five CD-ROM virtual videotexts. His books include "Exploring the Number Jungle" (2000), "The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking" (2000, with Michael Starbird), and "Making Transcendence Transparent" (2004). Burger's work has been recognized by the Mathematical Association of America with several awards for both teaching and writing. He serves as Associate Editor of the American Mathematical Monthly.

Burger has also performed stand-up comedy on the nightclub circuit, and briefly worked as a joke-writer for Jay Leno. He has given "mathematical performances" on NBC-TV, National Public Radio, and in classrooms around the world.

Light refreshments provided by the Science Library.

For additional information, contact the Writers Institute at 518-442-5620 or online at http://www.albany.edu/writers-inst.