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The annual Class of 1942 lecture series, sponsored in cooperation with the Department of Mathematics, was held in the auditorium of the new Science and Mathematics Center. More than 100 faculty members, students, alumni and emerti faculty were on hand for a lecture on “Chaos and Fractals,” delivered by Dr. Robert Devaney of Boston University.
Dr. Devaney, who has been the featured speaker at more than 1,500 invited lectures on dynamical systems and related topics in all 50 states in the U.S. and in over 30 countries on six continents worldwide, and is a fellow of the American Mathematical Society, was introduced to the audience by Professor Philip Scalisi, chairman of BSU’s mathematics department.
"Dr. Devaney is one of the top professionals in the field of mathematics," said Professor Scalisi. "He is currently the president of the nation’s premier mathematics organizations and is esteemed world-wide for his knowledge and teaching skills.”
While admitting that the topic of fractals “can be extremely complex,” Dr. Devaney used a combination of lecture, slide shows and movies to explain the subject. He also involved students in the audience, inviting them to answer periodic questions he posed to them.
By definition, fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales. They are created by repeating a simple process over and over in an ongoing feedback loop. Driven by recursion, fractals are images of dynamic systems – the pictures of what is termed mathematically as “chaos,” which was Dr. Devaney’s focus for the lecture.
At the conclusion of the program, Dr. Devaney met and talked individually with a number of faculty and students to answer their questions about the presentation. (David K. Wilson, ’71, Office of University Advancement)