Annual Dalrymple Lecture to Focus on Intriguing Natural Problems in Mathematics

OXFORD, Miss. – A three-legged stool doesn’t wobble. But four-legged stools often teeter because the tips of their legs don’t lie in the same plane.

This phenomenon of dependent sets, first theorized 75 years ago, is the focus of the 16th Dalrymple Lecture in Mathematics, set for 5:30 p.m. Friday (May 21) at the University of Mississippi. James Oxley, who holds an alumni professorship at Louisiana State University, is to deliver the address, which is free and open to the public in the Student Union Ballroom.

“There is some beautiful and intriguing mathematics that arises from some natural problems in geometry and network theory,” Oxley said. “Moreover, this mathematics is accessible to anyone who has done high school geometry.”

An internationally renowned mathematician from Australia, Oxley earned his doctoral degree from Oxford University. He has published more than 120 research papers in mathematics and authored the book “Matroid Theory,” considered the standard text in the field.

Oxley plans to discuss geometry and network theory, as well as matroids, a common theory of dependence that applies to both.

“Most people have a familiarity with games and their strategies,” said James Reid, UM professor of mathematics. “Dr. Oxley’s talk will show that games and these strategies have underlying mathematics, which unifies common concepts of games and geometry. He will illustrate applications of this mathematics to common real-world problems, such as constructing efficient computer networks.”

Established to bring distinguished speakers to campus to discuss mathematics and mathematics research, the Dalrymple Lecture series was endowed by Mr. and Mrs. Arch Dalrymple II of Amory. Arch Dalrymple attended Cornell University, Amherst College and UM, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in 1947.

For more information or for assistance related to a disability, contact James Reid at 662-915-7437.