Monday, October 17, 2022

MacArthur Awards -- a Math-Woman, a Math-Poet



Recently the 2022 MacArthur Fellowship awards have been announced and the recipients include Melanie Matchett Wood of Harvard University, a a female mathematician who is a specialist in Number Theory and June Huh of Princeton University, a male mathematician who is credited with discovering underlying connections between disparate areas of mathematics and proving long-standing mathematical conjectures.  (This article about Huh tells of his high school ambition to be a poet BUT I have not been able to find online any of his poems.)

      While a high school student in Indianapolis,  Melanie Wood (then aged 16) became the first, and until 2004 the only female American to make the U.S. International Mathematical Olympiad Team, receiving silver medals in the 1998 and 1999 International Mathematical Olympiad.

     In honor of Melanie Matchett Wood and her work in Number Theory, here are the several lines from a poem on that topic by noted Czech mathematician Olga Taussky-Todd (1906-1995). (The complete poem is available here.)

          Number theory is like poetry
          they are both of the same kind
          they start a fire in your mind.
          Number theory is not just clever and smart
          it has a beauty that fills your heart.

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