Sunday, January 31, 2016

First Stop: Seattle

Though  my European travels do not begin until the end of March, I was able to do some traveling earlier this month relating to my sabbatical, and that was to attend the Joint Mathematics Meetings (JMM) in Seattle.  The JMM is the largest math conference in the world (6090 attending) and is put on jointly by the American Mathematical Society and by the Mathematical Association of America.  It is partly the time I have open due to being on sabbatical that allowed me to attend this conference.

I found it to be quite different from other math conferences I had attended in the past (AMATYC, CMC^3, NCTM, etc.).  It was particularly hard to choose what sessions to go to, as there were 2805 of them to choose from over the course of four days!  They are grouped by classification, and though other topics interested me as well, I stuck nearly exclusively with talks about the history of mathematics.

I did sit in on a few talks on general topics or recreational mathematics as well.  (You can't beat it when Dr. Who shows up in a talk!)

Prior to attending this conference I joined a couple of other groups – the History of Mathematics Special Interest Group of the Mathematical Association of America (HOMSIGMAA) and the Association of Christians in the Mathematical Sciences (ACMS).  Each held a reception and a special talk in the evening, and these are groups of folks I really wanted to make connections with.  In joining HOMSIGMAA I was automatically part of the listserv, and I’ve gotten a great deal of valuable information there in preparation for my European travels.  (This most recent is news of an exhibition in London on the life of John Dee that will be taking place while I am there – very exciting!)

I love the logo of the ACMS – an unfolded hypercube, which suggests (to me at least) Christ’s cross, higher dimensional reality, and mathematics - the language with which Galileo stated God has created the universe.   

Another evening event was the Backgammon night hosted by Art Benjamin, at which I really came to have a deep appreciation for a game that I had known only at a very shallow level previously.


I had some time one afternoon to check out the city;so many things caught my eye, and the following pictures are the result.  It's truly an interesting and beautiful city.