Ording, Philip

CUNY Graduate School University Center, New York, NY, United States

The conference will take place April 3 - April 5, 2013, at the Graduate Center of The City University of New York. Each day of the conference will feature talks and roundtable discussions interspersed with arts program events.

The recommendation to "find a criterion of simplicity in mathematics," Hilbert's recently discovered 24th question on his renowned list of open problems given at the meeting of the International Congress of Mathematics in Paris in 1900, places the aesthetic of simplicity at the heart of mathematical practice. At the same time, simplicity and economy of means are powerful impulses in the creation of artworks. Recognizing the aesthetic nature of Hilbert's question, this conference aims to focus on criteria of simplicity in mathematics that are informed by perspectives from the arts, the philosophy and history of mathematics, and, most of all, current mathematical practice. The conference will focus on the questions: Is simplicity in mathematics truth conducive? How did simplicity come to represent such an important ideal in mathematical practice? Is there such a thing as the simplest proof of a theorem, and is this always its best proof?

The recommendation to find a criterion of simplicity in mathematics, Hilbertâ€™s recently discovered 24th question on his renowned list of open problems given at the meeting of the International Congress of Mathematics in Paris in 1900, places the aesthetic of simplicity at the heart of mathematical practice. At the same time, simplicity and economy of means are powerful impulses in the creation of artworks. Recognizing the aesthetic nature of Hilbertâ€™s question, this conference aims to focus on criteria of simplicity in mathematics that are informed by perspectives from the arts, the philosophy and history of mathematics, and, most of all, current mathematical practice. The primary objective was to bring together mathematicians from major mathematical disciplines of geometry, topology, number theory, algebra, and mathematical logic, among others, in order to focus on simplicity as an ideal of practice through the discussion of examples. The conference will focus on the questions: Is simplicity in mathematics truth conducive? How did simplicity come to represent such an important ideal in mathematical practice? Is there such a thing as the simplest proof of a theorem, and is this always its best proof? A second objective was to provide a historical overview of the concept of simplicity in mathematics and the arts via discussion with the invited historians. A third objective was to establish a dialogue among top practitioners in mathematics, visual art, art history, architecture, music, literature and philosophy of mathematics, on the basis of the shared ideal of simplicity. Our aim is the enrichment of each of these practices, through a greatly increased communication across disciplines. The conference convened from April 3-5, 2013 at the Graduate Center of CUNY, which is located in midtown Manhattan, New York. The event consisted of talks, panel discussions, an art installation, and a film program, all based on the theme of simplicity. The 18 invited speakers presented a rich variety of viewpoints on the topic of simplicity in mathematics and the arts: Andrew Arana (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) "Simplicity and the interface of algebra and geometry" Rachael DeLue (Princeton University) "Simplicity, Doubt, and Desire in the Visual Arts" Juliet Floyd (Boston University) "Aesthetics, Mathematics and Philosophy: Is there an Intersection?" Étienne Ghys, (École Normale Supérieure, Lyon) "Inner simplicity vs. outer simplicity" Mikhail Gromov (Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques and NYU) "Ergologic and Interfaces Between Languages" Rosalie Iemhoff (Utrecht University) "Simple proofs" Maryanthe Malliaris (University of Chicago) "What simplicity isnâ€™t" Dusa McDuff (Barnard College, Columbia University) "Thinking in Four Dimensions" Juhani Pallasmaa (Juhani Pallasmaa Architects, Helsinki) "The Complexity of Simplicity: the Inner Structure of the Artistic Image" David Reinfurt (Princeton University) "'Mathematical Typography'" Marja Sakari (Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki) "The art of being bored" Peter Sarnak (Institute for Advanced Study & Princeton University) "Is there a place for "ugly" mathematics?" Dennis Sullivan (Graduate Center, CUNY & SUNY at Stony Brook) "Simplicity Is The Point" Andrés Villaveces (National University of Colombia, Bogotá) "Simplicity via complexity via simplicity? Sandboxes for simplicity" Stephen Wolfram (Wolfram Research) "Perspectives on Mathematics and Aesthetics from the Computational Universe" Hugh Woodin (University of California, Berkeley) "Simplicity and the quest for ultimate (mathematical) truth" Andrea Worm (University of Augsburg) "Constructing the Timeline: Simplicity and Order as Guiding Principles for the Visualisation of History" Jan Zwicky (University of Victoria) "The Experience of Meaning" The 4 panel discussions offered a venue for discussion among participants and the audience: Small Interdisciplinary Panel. Amy Baker Sandback (art historian, New York), Rachael DeLue (Princeton University), Étienne Ghys, (École Normale Supérieure, Lyon), Philip Ording (moderator) Large Interdisciplinary Panel. Juliet Floyd (Boston University), Hanna Johansson (Univ. Helsinki), Juliette Kennedy (moderator), Grigor Sargsyan (Rutgers), Kate Shepherd (artist, New York), Riikka Stewen (Finnish Acad. Arts), Andrés Villaveces (National University of Colombia, Bogotá), Dan Walsh (artist, New York) Current/Recent Student Panel: Patrick Delahoy (M.Arch., Architecture, Yale, 2011), Spencer Gerhardt (Ph.D. student, Mathematics, USC), Helena Kauppila (Ph.D., Mathematics, Columbia, 2010), Rachel Levanger (Ph.D. student, Mathematics, Rutgers), Adriana Renero (Ph.D. student, Philosophy, CUNY), Samuel Stewart-Halevy (M.Arch., Architecture, Princeton, 2012), Philip Ording (moderator) Mathematics Panel: Étienne Ghys, (École Normale Supérieure, Lyon), Rosalie Iemhoff (Utrecht University), Roman Kossak (moderator), Dusa McDuff (Barnard College, Columbia University), Grigor Sargsyan (Rutgers), Marjorie Senechal (Smith), Andrés Villaveces (National University of Colombia, Bogotá), Hugh Woodin (University of California, Berkeley) The event attracted so many interested participants that registration had to be closed early due to seating limitations in the auditorium. In total, 419 people registered. Among these, 59 identified themselves as students. The conference was covered by the New York Times, in a brief write up just prior, and Allyn Jackson wrote an extensive report on the meeting in the August 2013 Notices of the AMS: www.ams.org/notices/201307/rnoti-p920.pdf

- Agency
- National Science Foundation (NSF)
- Institute
- Division of Mathematical Sciences (DMS)
- Type
- Standard Grant (Standard)
- Application #
- 1249796
- Program Officer
- Tomek Bartoszynski

- Project Start
- Project End
- Budget Start
- 2012-09-15
- Budget End
- 2013-08-31
- Support Year
- Fiscal Year
- 2012
- Total Cost
- $21,500
- Indirect Cost

- Name
- CUNY Graduate School University Center
- Department
- Type
- DUNS #

- City
- New York
- State
- NY
- Country
- United States
- Zip Code
- 10016