Professor David Mumford
Fields Medalist, University Professor of Applied Mathematics
Brown University
Miller Learning Center, Room 102

Wednesday, April 15, 2009
3:30pm, Miller Learning Center, Room 102

Title of talk: Mathematics and the Diversity of Cultures

Mathematics has played a vital role in every culture. Looking at the three cultures -- China, India and the West -- one can, to some extent “replay” the history of math from three different starting points. Sometimes one finds that it developed with strong parallels but sometimes with deep differences. The development of five mathematical ideas in these different cultures will be used to illustrate this. Does this complex history support or refute the Platonic idea that mathematics has a universal existence, independent of its discovery by humanity?

Refreshments will be served at 3:00pm preceding each lecture.

Thursday, April 16, 2009
3:30pm, Room 328
Boyd Graduate Studies Bldg.

Title of talk: The mathematical theory of shape and its applications to computer vision and medical imaging

The first of two talks, in which I will give a less technical introduction to the range of mathematical problems concerning "shape" which arise from object recognition and medical diagnosis. In particular, I will explain in simple terms why it may be useful for a physician to be aware that shapes form an infinite-dimensional non-linear manifold.

Friday, April 17, 2009
3:30pm, Room 328, Boyd Graduate Studies Bldg.

Title of talk: The mathematical theory of shape and its applications to computer vision and medical imaging, continued

I will go into the results from differential geometry that describe the geometry of these shape spaces in various different Riemannian metrics. Already, the manifold of simple closed plane curves carries three totally distinct types of metric. These ideas go back to Arnold but they are now attracting increasing attention.


For additional information about the 2009 Cantrell lecture series please contact: Dino Lorenzini, ●  Malcolm Adams,

Date and time: 
Wednesday, April 15, 2009 - 3:05pm to Friday, April 17, 2009 - 3:30pm