Δ = b2-4ac
(reading Jean-Pierre Serre)
Bart Van Steirteghem (MEC)
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
12:00 noon (right after the tutors meeting)
Abstract: In 1985 Jean-Pierre Serre, one of the world's greatest mathematicians and expositors of mathematics, published the article Δ = b2-4ac [pdf]. In it he explores some of the elementary and not so elementary aspects of the following problem which goes back to Gauss (ca. 1800): given an integer Δ, what are the possible polynomials ax2+bx+c with integer coefficients a,b and c for which b2 - 4ac is equal to Δ?
I will discuss some of the first results Serre mentions. The talk will get somewhat more technical as it progresses, but will have something for everyone.
Refreshments will be served.
Bring a friend from math class!