SOU lectures-calculations on chalkboard

WSU’s Watkins to offer thought-provoking mathematical lectures at SOU

Washington State University’s David Watkins will dive into a pair of deep mathematical concepts when he presents lectures at SOU on Friday, May 3, about eigenvalues and mathematical research.

Watkins’ first presentation, at 10:30 a.m. in Taylor Hall, Room 28-31, will offer an examination of eigenvalues for the 36th installment of SOU’s annual Kieval Lecture. He will describe current research into eigenvalues and set straight some commonly taught computational missteps.

“Toward the end of a first course in linear algebra, students learn that matrices have these things called eigenvalues,” Watkins said in describing his lecture. “They will certainly be taught how to compute eigenvalues, but the method that they will learn is wrong!”

The lecture series – which is free and open to the public – was endowed by the late Harry S. Kieval for speakers to address broad popular aspects of mathematics that are attractive to undergraduates and the general public. Kieval was an Ashland mathematician who died in 1994 at age 80.

Watkins – an internationally recognized expert in scientific computing, numerical analysis and numerical linear algebra – will also serve as guest lecturer for this week’s Friday Science Seminar. That presentation, at 3:30 p.m. in Room 151 of the Science Building, will cover the benefits and satisfaction of conducting original mathematic research – even if the same work was done in ancient Greece.

“Anybody can do research,” Watkins said. “If you can figure it out for yourself, the reward in satisfaction will be substantial. And it doesn’t matter whether you discover something new or rediscover things that have been known for a thousand years.”

Watkins is a professor emeritus of mathematics at WSU. He is the author of three books in the field and more than 100 mathematical and scientific publications. He was recently honored, along with several co-authors, by the award of a SIAM Outstanding Paper Prize for work in eigenvalue computations.

The Friday Science Seminar lecture is free and open to the public, and refreshments will be provided by SOU’s STEM Division. The lecture series offers presentations each week on topics ranging from biology to computer science to chemistry.