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Wallis and Landen: A Tale of two integrals (Prof. Victor Moll, Tulane University)
April 5 @ 4:15 pm - 5:30 pm
Title: Wallis and Landen: A Tale of two integrals
Speaker: Victor Moll, Department of Mathematics, Tulane University
Abstract: Victor Moll Abstract
I was born in Santiago, Chile during the last millenium, on October 31st. My father was a doctor in a small town. I must have been bothering my family, so they put me to school at an early age. My first mathematical mentor was Maria Pardo, who recognized that I had some talent for Mathematics. Since this came easy, I spent most of my middle and high school years trying to learn some more. The other subjects suffered.
After high-school, liking Mathematics, I enrolled in an Engineering School. Not a good idea. But since one could transfer to study Mathematics, everything worked out fine. After graduation, since PhD’s in Math were rare in Chile, I was hired as a faculty member of Universidad Santa Maria (not a catholic school, this is the last name of some rich chilean person). In 1980 I left for New York City, to begin my graduate education at the Courant Institute of NYU. I was interested in Number Theory and this is one of the best places for Applied Mathematics. Talk about being clueless. There I met my wife, Lisa Fauci, then also a student. (She is the former president of SIAM and has a large collections of well-deserved awards). We both got positions at Tulane University in 1986. We figure we will try New Orleans for a year or two. Never left.
My PhD thesis was in the stability of waves for a model for nerve conduction. Did that until I got tenure. After tenure I spent a sabbatical to finish writing a book on Elliptic Curves (jointly with my advisor, Henry McKean). Then a piece of luck: a first year graduate student (George Boros) told me that he could compute an integral. Not impressed, I tried Mathematica and it was unable to find the answer. This changed my research area. I have been computing integrals since then. Have written a variety of papers on this and three books (at diverse levels). I am currently the scientific editor of the table by Gradshteyn and Ryzhik, one of the most used tables in the world.
I enjoy working with undergraduate and graduate students, professional colleagues and amateurs. I have been part of REU programs such as SIMU (in Puerto Rico), MSRI-UP (at Berkeley) and a variety of summer programs at Tulane. Lately I have been participating in programs aimed at faculty coming from institutions with high teaching load (Park City, Utah and ICERM, at Brown). My latest projects involves a new method called ”The method of brackets”, invented by my collaborator Ivan Gonzalez, a professor of Physics in Valparaiso, Chile. Our works deals with the evaluation of Feynman diagrams, coming in the description of elementary particles. To me, this is the last leg of a cycle. As a high school student, I wanted to study Particle Physics. It is never too late to go back to the beginning.