The Department of Logic & Philosophy of Science Colloquium Series presents

"The Miracle of Applied Mathematics: A Case Study in Mathematical Development Involving the Fractional Derivative"
with Sheldon Smith, University of California, Los Angeles

Friday, November 18, 2011
3:00 p.m.
Social Science Tower, Room 777

Many claim that it is mysterious that mathematics is applicable to the physical world.  Some of the alleged mystery is generated by claims about the motivations that are involved in the development of new mathematics.  For example, Mark Steiner has claimed that mathematicians are guided by beauty when they invent (or discover) new mathematics but, the story goes, we have no reason to believe that the human aesthetic sense would provide anything applicable to the physical world.  As such, we should find it mysterious when it does.  In this talk, Smith traces the development of the fractional derivative and discuss what motivated its development.  Moreover, Smith discusses various applications of the fractional derivative and argues that there is no clear reason to find it mysterious that the fractional derivative has those applications.  Part of Smith's hope in the talk is to get clearer about what the mysteries of the applicability of mathematics are even supposed to be.

For further information, please contact Patty Jones, or 949-824-1520.


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