Related Links:

William Marshall Bullitt’s collection of rare mathematic and astronomy books

Bullitt Lecture in Physics

Bullitt Lecture in Law

Bullitt Lecture in Art

  The William Marshall Bullitt Lecture in Mathematics
The Fourth Dimension and
the People You Meet There

Dr. Tom Banchoff
Brown University

Thursday, April 11th, 2019
Natural Sciences Building
Room 112
University of Louisville

Abstract: Four-dimensional space has challenged writers, artists, geometers, philosophers, and theologians. Modern graphical visualization techniques make it possible for us to see and interact with higher-dimensional space and figures in dramatic and illuminating ways. Guides to this fourth dimension include Edwin Abbott Abbott's _Flatland_, Madeleine L'Engle's _A Wrinkle in Time_, and Salvador Dali's _Corpus Hypercubus_, which have both embraced higher dimensions as mathematical concepts and made symbolic use of the fourth dimension as representative of the frontiers of human imagination and ability. This talk will explore both the history of mathematical and philosophical excursions into the fourth dimension, and seek to answer the question: "What lies ahead?"

for more information, contact or call (502) 852-6826

BIO: Dr. Tom Banchoff has been a teacher and researcher of geometry, expanding the horizons of understanding of higher-dimensional geometry in both mathematics and the creative arts. Dr. Banchoff was a pioneer in the field of computer graphics, developing some of the earliest visualizations of four-dimensional solids. He has been recognized with the Lester R. Ford award for mathematical exposition and the Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching. He has served as the president of the Mathematical Association of America, as the editor of leading journals, and as a consultant for the 2007 film adaptation of _Flatland_.
  click on image for PDF
                                    Lecture Poster 2019

History of the Mathematics Department's Bullitt Lecture Series

The Mathematics Department’s Bullitt Lecture is a free, public lecture that has brought to Louisville each year, beginning in 1993, a distinguished mathematician to speak to 200-500 audience members about important and cutting-edge mathematics. Ronald Graham, former Chief Scientist at AT&T, and Indiana University College Professor of Cognitive Science and Computer Science, author and computer scientist Douglas R. Hofstadter  (author of Gödel, Escher, Bach) are former Bullitt Lecturers. The emphasis has been drawing people from the outside academia.  Talented high school students, area professionals, and other parties interested in the impact and excitement that mathematics has generated, especially in the last decade, have attended the Bullitt Lecture in surprisingly large numbers.

The Lecture is endowed through a grant from the family of William Marshall Bullitt, the Solicitor General of the United Stated under President William Howard Taft.  The first Bullitt lecture was given by Jerry King of Lehigh University (a native Kentuckian, UK Ph.D) on the subject of his then popular book "The Art of Mathematics," Plenum Press, NY and London, 1992.  It took place on April 5, 1993.
The second lecture was given by Professor Fred Rickey, one of the leading American historians of mathematics who was  then at Bowling Green University (and is now at the United States Military Academy at West Point), on the then popular topic of the history of Fermat's Last Theorem. Recall that Andrew Wiles had announced his proof of FLT in the summer of 1993.  Professor Rickey's talk took place in April of 1994.
Paul Humke gave the third lecture in 1995 on visualizing the 4th dimension.  After 1995, the Bullitt Lecture was advertised via posters shown below.

 Click on photo to download PDF file containing the poster.
(some of these files are large, > 1mb)

                        1996 image

                        1997 image
                        1999 image
                        2000 image
                        2001 image
                        2002 image
                        2003 image
                        2004 image
Bullitt 2006 Poster
  Bullitt Lecture 2007
Bullitt 2009
Bullitt Poster
                          2011 2011
2012 Thumbnail
Bullitt 2013 Thumbnail

Bullitt Poster
2015 Bullitt
                        poster thumbnail 2015
Bullitt2016 jpeg 2016
Bullitt Lecture Poster Thumbnail

William Marshall Bullitt, the Solicitor General of the United Stated under President William Howard Taft, was a Louisville native and an 1894 Princeton graduate.  He received his law degree from the University of Louisville. Bullitt is descended from one of the most prominent Kentucky families- five Kentucky counties bear the name of his direct ancestors. 

Bullitt was an authority on insurance law and wrote a number of important pamphlets in actuarial mathematics.  He was a personal friend of a number of important figures in twentieth-century mathematics, including G.D. Birkhoff, G.H. Hardy, and Albert Einstein. 

The Bullitt family had already compiled collections of rare books in history, horticulture, and other field when William Marshall Bullitt decided to pursue acquisitions of rare mathematical editions. Bullitt began by seeking the aid of mathematicians and historians of mathematics in determining a list of ``25 Greatest Mathematicians (Excluding all Living Mathematicians)”.  Prior to World War II, Bullitt and his wife traveled extensively in Europe; his cousin, William Christian Bullitt, was the American Ambassador to France at the time.  Bullitt put together a magnificent collection of rare and significant mathematics.  “Strangely enough, anyone wishing to write about Galois in Paris would do well to journey to Louisville, Kentucky,” wrote Leopold Infeld, author of Whom the Gods Love, a fictionalized biography of the celebrated French mathematician Evariste Galois.  A well-written account of Bullitt and his efforts to obtain rare mathematics manuscripts is given in ``William Marshall Bullitt and His Amazing Mathematical Collection”, by Richard M. Davitt (Professor of Mathematics at the University of Louisville), in The Mathematical Intelligencer, Vol. 11, No. 4, 1989.

In 1958, Bullitt’s wife gave the entire mathematics collection and related correspondence to the University of Louisville, where today it is the William Marshall Bullitt Mathematical Collection. Visitors from around the world visit the Collection.  Members of the Bullitt family are frequent Lecture attendees. The mathematics community—indeed, the entire Louisville community—gratefully and gladly acknowledges the debt to the family for the inestimable contribution.

    University of Louisville, Department of Mathematics. Copyright © 2012-19. All rights reserved.