The MacPhaidin Library’s Scholar Series resumes on Thursday Feb. 29, when Computer Science Professor Shai Simonson discusses his new book – Looking for Math in All the Wrong Places: Math in Real Life. That book, and his Scholar Series talk, are not geared toward only mathematicians and computer scientists. Instead, Prof. Simonson seeks to enlighten all of us about how math is related to so many of our human pursuits.   As he points out in his work, though we might not realize it, we are frequently contemplating mathematical formulas: when we are trying to calculate our chances of winning a carnival game; determining which carload of friends will arrive first at their spring break destination; or divvying up a pizza – math is everywhere. He explains how having a sense of curiosity and a willingness to ask questions about these everyday equations can lead to many benefits. 

Published by the American Mathematical Society, Professor Simonson’s work recounts some wonderful examples. After describing his joy at serving as an audience volunteer at a Penn and Teller show in Boston, he explains how they can perform some of their most mystifying card tricks. Recounting multi-vehicle family road trips involving himself and his more lead-footed brother, Prof. Simonson explains how to calculate arrival time given a variety of factors. He also devotes a section to calculating the likelihood of seeing a professional bowler bowl a perfect game in a televised match. 

Most of all, he drives home the point that math is not just in a classroom or the pages of a textbook. According to his book, looking for and exploring those instances where math appears in our daily lives has great benefits, including: 

  • Keeping your mind active
  • Becoming skilled at mental calculations
  • Discovering interesting patterns
  • Uncovering hidden connections
  • Deepening your understanding of why things are what they are 

Prof. Simonsons’s talk will take place from 3:30-4:40 p.m. in the South End of the Library’s First Floor. Light refreshments and wine and cheese will be provided, courtesy of Stonehill College’s Office of Academic Affairs  

The series will continue throughout the spring semester. On March 21, Director of Intercultural Affairs Kristine Din will discuss her successful doctoral dissertation: Re-envisioning Self and Community: The Experiences of Pilipina American Students with Colonial Mentality and Decolonization

On April 25, Political Science Professor Anwar Mhajne will present on the forthcoming book published by Oxford University Press: Critical Perspectives on Cybersecurity, which Prof. Mhajne edited along with Alexis Henshaw.