Mathematics history scholar to keynote conference

Victor J. Katz will deliver the keynote address “Quadratic Equations: Can We Really Apply Them?” at Western Carolina University’s sixth annual Smoky Mountain Undergraduate Research Conference on the History of Mathematics on Saturday, March 17.

Katz, an author and professor emeritus of mathematics at the University of the District of Columbia, will speak at 9:45 a.m. at the North Carolina Center for the Advancement of Teaching, which is partnering with WCU to host the event.

In his address, Katz will trace the importance of solving quadratic equations from the ninth century through the 17th century and the implications to teaching algebra today.

He is the author of the book “A History of Mathematics: An Introduction” and editor of “The Mathematics of Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, India and Islam: A Sourcebook” and “Using History to Teach Mathematics.” He also co-edited “Learn from the Masters” and “Recent Developments on Introducing a Historical Dimension in Mathematics Education.”

In addition, Katz was the founding editor of “Loci: Convergence,” the Mathematical Association of America’s online magazine centered on the history of mathematics and its use in education.

Other presentations at SMURCHOM, all of which will be held at NCCAT, include poster sessions and 15-minute talks on research in the history of mathematics and mathematics informed by its history.

The event also features a lunchtime QR-code scavenger hunt based on history of math trivia to be held at WCU and a climbing wall contest at WCU’s Campus Recreation Center.

About 100 undergraduate students from the region are expected to attend.

SMURCHOM is supported by a grant from the Mathematical Association of America with funding from the Division of Mathematical Sciences at the National Science Foundation and funding from the WCU College of Arts and Sciences, College of Education and Allied Professions, Honors College and Quality Enhancement Plan.

As a visiting scholar at WCU, Katz also will give a colloquium, which is free and open to the public, in Room 437 of Stillwell Science Building on Friday, March 16, at 2:30 p.m. Attendees are invited to gather for coffee beforehand at 2:15 p.m. in Room 424 of Stillwell.

For more information, visit online or contact Sloan Despeaux, WCU associate professor of mathematics and conference organizer, at or 828-227-3825.