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Arnold Ross Lectures

The purpose of this series of lectures for talented high school mathematics students is to stimulate their interest in mathematics beyond the traditional classroom and to show them the tremendous opportunities for careers in mathematics--as mathematics teachers and as researchers in government, industry, and university programs. The lectures are intended to illustrate some recent development in mathematical research. Read the background behind the Arnold Ross Lectures.

2016 Arnold Ross Lecture

Professor Nancy Kopell, Professor of Mathematics at Boston University will give the 2016 Arnold Ross Lecture at the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History in Fort Worth, Texas on Thursday October 27, 2016.

Brain Rhythms in Health and Disease

Nancy Kopell

The brain produces electrical activity at all times and in all states. This activity includes "brain rhythms", patterns in which there is roughly periodic behavior in some subset of the activity or combinations of such behavior. It has long been known that there are associations between cognitive states (such as attention or sleep) and specific brain rhythms. But it is not well understood how these rhythms come about and how they participate in brain tasks. This talk gives an introduction to the nature of these rhythms and explains why mathematics is important to understanding where the rhythms come from and how they may be used. Examples are given to show how brain rhythms can be useful for cognition, and how changes in them (in disease or anesthesia) can affect normal workings of the brain.

About the 2016 speaker:  Nancy Kopell received her A.B. from Cornell University in 1963 and Ph.D. in Mathematics from University of California Berkeley in 1967.  She was a CLE Moore Instructor at MIT and then taught at Northeastern University.  In 1986 she joined the faculty at Boston University, where she is now William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and was named an Honorary Member of the London Mathematical Society (one or two awarded worldwide each year).  She has held fellowships from the Alfred P. Sloan foundation, the J.S. Guggenheim Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.  In 2015, she was a recipient of the Mathematical Neuroscience Prize from Israel Brain Technologies (2 worldwide, every 2 years).  Professor Kopell is interested in dynamics of nervous system, including the mechanistic origins of brain rhythms, their use in cognition, and their role in cognitive disorders.  She started and continues to run an NSF supported "Discovery Network" called the Cognitive Rhythms Collaborative, a group of over 30 labs (mostly) in the Boston area, whose mission is to facilitate collaboration among theorists and experimentalists on problems involving brain dynamics. 

She practices tai chi and qi gong, a daoist form of meditation, and teaches a weekly chi gong class.

Past Arnold Ross Lectures

2014 Arnold Ross Lecture

Henry Cohn

Henry Cohn, principal researcher and one of the founding members of Microsoft Research New England, gave the 2014 Arnold Ross Lecture at The Leonardo in Salt Lake City. He asked the question What’s the densest sphere packing in a million dimensions? For more about his Lecture and the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician game click here.

(Photo courtesy of Bryce Vickmark)

2013 Fall Lecture

Bryna Kra

Bryna Kra of Northwestern University gave the Fall 2013 Arnold Ross Lecture, Patterns and Disorder: How Random Can Random Be? The lecture was held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. To read more about her lecture and the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician game click here.

2013 Spring Lecture

Erik Demaine

Erik D. Demaine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology gave the Spring Arnold Ross Lecture, Algorithms Meet Art, Puzzles, and Magic. The lecture was held at the new Museum of Mathematics in New York City. To read more about his lecture and the Who Wants to Be a Mathematician game click here.

2011 Lecture

Joan P. Hutchinson

Joan P. Hutchinson, Professor Emerita, Macalester College, gave the Arnold Ross Lecture, From crayons to color graphics: How mathematicians use color. The 2011 Lecture was held at the Science Museum of Minnesota in St. Paul. Photo courtesy of Macalester College

2010 Lecture

Thomas C. Hales

Thomas C. Hales, Mellon Professor of Mathematics, University of Pittsburgh, gave the 2010 Arnold Ross Lecture, Can Computers Do Math? The Lecture was held at the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, October 14, 2010. To find out more click here.

Photo Copyright ©, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2010, all rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.

2009 Lecture

Dana Randall

Dana Randall of the Georgia Institute of Technology, gave the Arnold Ross Lecture, Domino Tilings of the Chessboard: An Introduction to Sampling and Counting at the National Science Center/Fort Discovery in Augusta, Georgia, on Thursday, October 29, 2009. Click here to read more of the days events at Fort Discovery.

2008 Lecture

David C. Kelly with Hartman Halo

David C. Kelly, Hampshire College, gave the 2008 Arnold Ross Lecture, From Pascal's Triangle to Sierpinski's Triangle in Base 2 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry on Thursday, October 23. To read more click here.

2007 Lecture

Barry Mazur

Barry Mazur, Harvard University, gave the 2007 Arnold Ross Lecture on How many prime numbers are there? at the Museum of Science in Boston, MA on Thursday, November 1. To read more click here.

2006 Lecture

Manjul Bhargava

Manjul Bhargava, Princeton University, gave the 2006 Arnold Ross Lecture on The Mathematics of Rhythm at the Museum of Science and Industry, Chicago on Tuesday, October 24. To read more click here.

2005 Lecture

Kenneth Ribet

Kenneth A. Ribet, University of California, Berkeley, gave the 2005 Arnold Ross Lecture on Fermat's Last Theorem and Beyond at the New York Hall of Science on Thursday, November 3. To read more click here.

2004 Lecture

Elwyn Berlekamp

Elwyn Berlekamp, University of California at Berkeley, gave the 2004 Arnold Ross Lecture on The Dots and Boxes Game: Sophisticated Child's Play at the St. Louis Science Center on April 21. Following the lecture AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen emceed the "Who Wants To Be A Mathematician" game, during which five talented high school students won a total of $7,000 from the AMS. As a grand finale to the day's events, Berlekamp played many of the high school students in the audience in a simultaneous game of Dots and Boxes. To read more click here.


2003 Lecture

Paul Sally

Paul J. Sally Jr., University of Chicago, gave the 2003 Arnold Ross Lecture on Problems in Mathematics from Zero to Infinity to an enthusiastic crowd of approxomately 250 high school students and teachers. This lecture was further enhanced by a game show that was held after refreshments.

The successful mathematics game show, Who Wants to be a Mathematician, was run in conjunction with the lecture by the AMS Public Awareness Office. The exuberant student audience contributed to the atmosphere of excitement and enjoyment as they cheered on the contestants.

Comments from students who attended a recent Arnold Ross Lecture:

"We are three students who attended the recent Arnold Ross Lecture at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago and wanted to thank you for bringing the lecture here. It was a great experience and we had a lot of fun.We hope the lecture returns soon."

To read more click here.

Also see summaries of the 2002 and 2001 Arnold Ross Lectures.


In the late 1980s, with the encouragement of Professor Paul J. Sally, Jr., (1933-2013) of the University of Chicago, the American Mathematical Society instituted a series of lectures aimed at talented high school mathematics students. In 1993, the series was dedicated to Professor Arnold E. Ross of Ohio State University for his many contributions to the development of mathematical and scientific talent.

As chairman of the mathematics department at the University of Notre Dame, Dr. Arnold Ross started a mathematics enrichment program for high school teachers in 1947. He started his multi-level summer program for gifted high school students in 1957 and ran it every summer until 2000, giving the number theory lecture each morning.

In keeping with this prestigious tradition, the American Mathematical Society is proud to present the annual Arnold Ross Lecture for talented high school mathematics students. These lectures are sustained, in part, by an endowment established in 1996, by Professor Sally.

This is a time of exciting progress in the mathematical sciences. Mathematical research has stimulated new ideas in many subject areas--computer science, physics, engineering, biology, the behavioral sciences, and other disciplines.

Committee for Arnold Ross Lectures

David E. Marker, University of Illinois at Chicago Glenn Stevens, Chair, Boston University Mark Tomforde, University of Houston Glen T. Whitney, Tesseract Management

For additional information contact Robin at the American Mathematical Society. updated 06/29/16-rha

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