Mathematical Structure in Fiction

9th March 2021 1:00pm to 2:00pm


Mathematical concepts have often been used to create new structural forms in fiction, as in the works of Raymond Queneau and Jorge Luis Borges, Professor Sarah Hart will explain in this Gresham lecture.

The members of Queneau’s Oulipo group (including Georges Perec and Italo Calvino) sought to create works using various constraints as an impetus to innovation. 

Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (2013) continues in this tradition. And mathematical concepts have even been used as plot devices, such as series of dastardly murders made possible by the mathematical idea of “non-transitivity

Speaker profiles
Professor Sarah Hart

Sarah Hart is the first woman Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, and was appointed in 2020. She is Professor of Mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Statistics at Birkbeck, University of London.

She studied at Oxford and Manchester, gaining her PhD in 2000. Postdoctoral research and teaching followed, including a prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship, before she was appointed to a lectureship at Birkbeck in 2004. She has been Professor of Mathematics there since 2013. She is also Vice President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

Sarah is an active researcher, publishing mainly in the area of pure mathematics known as group theory, which has many applications both inside and outside of mathematics, for example in coding theory and cryptography. She is passionate about communicating mathematics and is a sought-after public speaker. She is particularly interested in the links between mathematics, culture and creativity: many of her public lectures and talks in schools are on this topic, especially on mathematics and art.

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