April 23, 2014



February 17, 2011
Time: 5:00 p.m.
Piergiorgio Odifreddi


Galileo said that "the Great Book of Nature can be read only by those who know the language in which it was written, and this language is mathematics". Usually, however, the pages of the Great Book that we hear about are those related to the hard sciences, physics first and foremost. And the language in which these pages are written, is a sophisticated and complex one, comprehensible only to the initiated.

In the second half of the last century, however, some striking pages of the Great Book have been deciphered, in such diverse fields as biology and political sciences. And some of these pages happen to be written in the very simple and elementary language of discrete mathematics. We will read together a few paragraphs of them, covering topics that range from the mechanism of cellular reproduction, to electoral procedures and vote apportionment.

This talk is be hosted jointly by the Fields Institute and the Istituto Italiano di Cultura

Audio and Slides available here.

Piergiorgio Odifreddi is an Italian mathematician, logician and aficionado of the history of science, who is also extremely active as a popular science writer and essayist, especially in a perspective of philosophical atheism. Born in Cuneo (Piedmont), he received his Laurea in mathematics in Turin in 1973. From 1983 to 2002, he taught in both Italy (Turin, Alessandria, Siena, Milan) and in the United States (Cornell University). Since 2001, he has been a professor of mathematical logic in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Turin. He has written editorials and books reviews for La rivista dei libri (the Italian edition of the New York Review of Books), is a regular contributor to Le Scienze (the Italian edition of Scientific American), and has also written for several newspapers such as La Repubblica, La Stampa and the weekly L'Espresso.
The television stations Radio Tre, RAI Due and RAI Tre have hosted many of his discussions on various scientific topics. Piergiorgio Odifreddi participated in the Stock Exchange of Visions project in 2007.
1998 - Galileo Prize of the Italian Mathematical Union.
2002 - Peano Prize of Mathesis
2005 - Commendatore dell'Ordine al Merito della Repubblica Italiana

Note Dr. Odifreddi will also be speaking at the Royal Canadian Institute talks on Sunday February 20.


January 19, 2011 -- 6:00 p.m.
Earth Sciences Auditorium, University of Toronto

What is the Shape of Inner Space?

The Chinese University of Hong Kong and Harvard University
In this public lecture, Professor Yau will talk about how mathematics and physics can come together to the benefit of both fields, particularly in the case of Calabi-Yau spaces and string theory--our leading attempt to explain the universe to date. He will discuss his personal introduction to geometry, as well as a bit of the history of geometry. Thus, Professor Yau hopes to give the audience a sense of how mathematicians think and approach the world and convey the realization that mathematics does not have to be a wholly abstract discipline, disconnected from everyday phenomena, but is instead crucial to our understanding of the physical world.
Video and slides of talk

November 1, 2010
What is the fate of the solar system?

Cédric Villani, Professeur de mathématiques de l'Université Claude Bernard Lyon I
Directeur de l'Institut Henri Poincaré

Video and slides of talk

October 1, 2010
Special Seminar on Mathematical Exposition
Ivars Peterson (Mathematical Association of America)
Communicating Mathematics
Audio and slides of talk