Mathematics in conversation

Usually once a quarter on a Thursday at 7 p.m., a “Mathematics in Conversation” takes place at Erlebnisland Mathematik.
Entertaining, personal and unusual — an event for anyone interested. Moderated by Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom, one of the scientific directors of the “Erlebnisland Mathematik”, the event takes a look behind the scenes of mathematicians and also elicits personal insights.

The following events have already taken place:


“Mathematics and faith” (01.10.2012)


“The journey is the destination — the problem of the traveling salesman” (03/23/2017)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Stefan Hougardy (University of Bonn)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
The traveling salesman problem is a classical mathematical optimization problem. The task is to choose an order for visiting several places in such a way that the total travel distance of the traveling salesman is as short as possible and the first stop is equal to the last stop. In the first lecture of the series Mathematics in Conversation, Prof. Dr. Stefan Hougardy from the University of Bonn approaches the different aspects of the traveling salesman problem in an entertaining way. A new exhibit in the Mathematics Adventure Land invites visitors to playfully discover the complexity of this problem. The exhibit was made possible by the generous support of the Nollau family. Prof. Dr. Nollau, a founding director of Erlebnisland Mathematik, sadly passed away in early January 2017; he and his dedication to Erlebnisland will be remembered at the event.


“Stochastic Geometry in Art and Nature” (06/17/2017)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Dietrich Stoyan (TU Bergakademie Freiberg)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
Random patterns for decoration are something we encounter again and again in the fine arts and architecture — for example, on the roof of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall. The entertaining lecture in the series “Mathematics in Conversation” is devoted to the question whether such patterns and natural structures — from astronomy or mineralogy — can be assigned to stochastic geometry and compared with its models.


“What can be calculated and what just looks like it?” (26.10.2017)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Axel Voigt (TU Dresden)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
Scientific computing is mainly concerned with the development of models and algorithms in order to be able to answer questions from natural, technical and economic sciences by means of numerical simulation. “SCHWAPP””, the new exhibit in the mathematics experience land, reproduces physical laws of a liquid in the computer and allows the visitor to move it at will. But what is behind it mathematically and how realistic are the results?


“Math(er) plays first fiddle” (04/19/2018)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Stefan Neukamm (TU Dresden)
Accompaniment: Sae Shimabara (Violin — Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
Music is mathematical — so how musical is mathematics? The public lecture “Mathematik(er) spielt die erste Geige” (Mathematics(er) plays the first violin) invited to violin sounds and questions that people have been dealing with at least since Pythagoras and the investigations on the so-called monochord attributed to him. Prof. Stefan Neukamm spanned the spectrum from fundamental questions about the nature of tones and sounds to their visualizability and the mathematical description and modeling of music, accompanied by virtuoso music and sound examples. His wife Sae Shimabara, a member of the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden, was a guest with him.


“Chaos, stability and the irreversibility of time” (06/12/2018)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Matthias Schwarz (University of Leipzig)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
Even without relativistic and quantum physics, dynamical systems of classical physics still hold fascinating mathematical challenges, chaotic behavior is right next to stability, rational number relations provide instability — where does the irreversibility of time in the microscopic world come from?
The exciting lecture approaches these phenomena using the example of the so-called celestial mechanics, i.e. the motion of the planets.


“Square. Practical. Good” — Nonlinear equations in everyday life (16.05.2019)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Bernd Sturmfels (Director at the Max Planck Institute for Mathematics in the Sciences Leipzig)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
In math we learn curve discussion and solving quadratic equations. Why? If you can solve quadratic equations, you will find the answer to many questions in everyday life. For example, they are used to solve complex problems, such as in statistics or optimization. And they are the basis of algebra, a wonderful mathematical discipline applied to the study of a wide variety of problems. In this lecture, colorful pictures invite the listener to think about the usefulness of nonlinear algebra.


“Alexander Grothendieck — From Genius Mathematician to Hermit” (09/19/2019)

Speaker: Prof. Dr. Winfried Scharlau (University of Münster)
Moderation: Prof. Dr. Andreas Thom (TU Dresden)
As one of the most important mathematicians of the second half of the 20th century, he revolutionized algebraic geometry in the 1960s, among other things, and placed it on a completely new foundation. His life was of unique drama: childhood with foster parents in Hamburg, French internment camp, professorship in Montpellier, withdrawal from mathematical work and turning to esoteric and religious questions. Finally, he broke off all social contacts and lived a lonely life in the countryside … The lecture illuminates important stations of Grothendieck’s life, pays tribute to his achievements and raises the question to what extent this unusual life influenced the way he dealt with mathematics.