Decoding The Magic Of Math


Plainedge native named visiting professor at museum

Dr. Manjul Bhargava (Photo courtesy of Denise Applewhite, Princeton University)
By Sarah Ibrahim

Plainedge native Dr. Manjul Bhargava was recently named the first inaugural Distinguished Visiting Professor of the National Museum of Mathematics in Manhattan (MoMath).

A Field Medal winner and professor of math at Princeton University, Bhargava was named one of Popular Science magazine’s “Brilliant 10” in 2002, and has been the recipient of many mathematics-based honors and awards.

Bhargava will be the First Distinguished Chair for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics. This visiting professorship will be the first in the United States dedicated to raising public awareness of math. When asked to be MoMath’s first visiting professor, he stated he was “very excited as it has always been part of my pastime to popularize math to the public.”

Bhargava has loved math, puzzles, and problem solving for as long as he can remember. He attended Plainedge High School in North Massapequa and graduated as valedictorian of his class in 1992. He completed all of his high school math and computer science courses by age 14. When faced with the decision of his career path he briefly considered economics or music, but as mathematics is the basis for both subjects, he stayed true to his original passion.

Dr. Bhargava’s expertise is in number theory, and he will be teaching mini-courses and participate in various events and initiatives that will be held. His first course, which began Sept. 12 and ends Dec. 12, focuses on “Math and Magic.” The mini course will discuss number theory, coding theory, and cryptography and will focus on revealing the secrets behind some of the greatest and grandest magic tricks, and how math is used to create these illusions. Next term Bhargava will focus his mini-courses of the relationship between math and music. On Nov. 27, he will be holding a public lecture in regards to the relationship between math and nature.

“The finest mathematicians often share their passion in academic and research settings, but their inspiration and excitement are largely inaccessible to the general public in the United States. MoMath’s first Distinguished Chair for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics will employ that same rigorous level of math but present the subject in a way that has broad popular appeal and connects with math lovers of all ages and abilities,” said executive director of MoMath Cindy Lawrence. “We hope that the creation of the distinguished visiting professorship will create a paradigm shift in the United States, to more publicly demonstrate the value of providing world class mathematics outreach to the public.”

There is expected to be a new Distinguished Chair for the Public Dissemination of Mathematics every year. The National Museum of Mathematics in New York City is the only math-based museum in North America and has been open for five years. MoMath offers hands-on math programming, offering a space where the math-challenged, as well as math enthusiasts of all backgrounds and levels of understanding can enjoy the infinite and beautiful world of mathematics through more than 40 unique, state-of-the-art, interactive exhibits.

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  1. I found this to be a fascinating article. I grew up a with a terror of math. It was only due to the request that I tutor BOCES students just before my jury Duty duty and teaching myself algebra using their work books that took away that fear. I now find that have to be fascinating and I wish I could teach you to others. I understand their fear because I had it. I wish the Museum of mathematics all the success in the world as we speak to dispel a fear of mathematics that exists.

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