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Graduate Seminar

Brian Kell
Carnegie Mellon University
Title: How much area does it take to spin a needle?

Abstract: In 1917 the Japanese mathematician Kakeya asked for the smallest area of a set in the plane within which one can rotate a needle (i.e., a line segment of unit length) continuously through a full 360 degrees. George Birkhoff publicly proclaimed that this problem and the four-color problem were the outstanding unsolved problems of the day. Unbeknownst to almost everyone, however, it had been essentially (and accidentally) solved by Besicovitch in an obscure Russian journal not long after it had been proposed. In this talk we will discuss the surprising answer to this problem and mention some connections to other fields in mathematics.

Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Time: 5:30 pm
Location: Wean Hall 8220
Submitted by:  Brian Kell