“Archimedes’ Cattle Problem” at noon on Thursday 10/24 in Olin 268

Student Colloquium talk by Professor Krishnan (Ravi) Shankar, University of Oklahoma

Title:  Archimedes’ Cattle Problem

Abstract:  Back in antiquity Archimedes devised a mathematical problem in the form of 22 elegiac couplets and delivered them to Eratosthenes of Cyrene (as a challenge of sorts). The problem is in three parts of increasing difficulty and the solution is rather astonishing, both for its complexity and for the problem’s ability to anticipate mathematics that didn’t come about for 2000 years (Pell’s equation). We will explore the problem and its solution (which was only completely solved in 1889 by Amthor) and ask ourselves the age old question: “What did Archimedes know?”