Discussion on Knots First in Lecture Series to Honor Atul Vyas ’09

The mathematics department at Claremont McKenna College will host its first Atul Vyas Memorial Lecture in Mathematics from 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 11 in Davidson Lecture Hall, on campus.

In memory of Vyas, who was a senior and member of the CMC Class of 2009, the annual lecture series is designed for a general audience and will focus on the creative application of abstract mathematical ideas. The first lecture in the series, Applications of Knot Theory, will be presented by visiting assistant professor of mathematics Sam Nelson.

Vyas, who is remembered as a brilliant physics and mathematics student, was killed in a train crash in September. He planned to attend medical school after graduation from the College. “The mathematics department at CMC fondly remembers Atul as someone who was equally excited by the power of mathematical abstraction and the possibilities for its applications,” organizers of the annual lecture series say.

Nelson’s presentation on knots examines their important role in human technology since prehistoric times; without knots, there would have no clothing, no ships for navigation, and no suspension bridges. The mathematical study of knots involves the search for mathematical tools for distinguishing different types of knots, called knot invariants.

In addition to telling knots apart, knot invariants are turning out to have surprising applications to other fields. Nelson’s lecture will provide applications of knot invariants to bioinformatics, elementary particle physics, and quantum computing.

A brief reception will take place prior to the talk and refreshments will be provided.

For more information, please contact chair of the mathematics department Mike O’Neill, at 909-607-8336, ext. 78336, or moneill@cmc.edu.