Published January 10, 2023 by Tom Porter

Wing Lecture: How Mathematics Changes over Time

Many of us may be unaware of this, but mathematics is a dynamic discipline that can change over time, said Jennifer Taback in her inaugural lecture as the Isaac Henry Wing Professor of Mathematics, delivered on November 29, 2022.

"When people learn I'm a mathematician, they often ask me a variety of questions,” she said, one of the most common ones being something like “Isn’t all of math already known? Isn't it all written down in a book?”

During her hour-long talk, Taback used the history of geometry to show that mathematics is a dynamic discipline, changing like any other scholarly field when bold people question its assumptions and their implications. Most of us can relate to geometry as a branch of mathematics, she commented. “It's a topic that many assume was codified by Euclid … and hasn't changed since. However, the story I will tell you today will illuminate the twists and turns, sometimes radical, which geometry has taken over many centuries.” 

Watch Taback's Lecture: A Brief - and Subjective - History of Geometry: