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Tuesday, 17 November 2020, 1:00PM - 2:00PM
Online Lecture

The Sound of Mathematics

Professor Sarah Hart

It has been known since antiquity that there are simple “harmonic” relationships between notes that sound appealing together. 

This lecture introduces the mathematics of pitch, scales, and just temperament. The pitch of a sound is not its only important property. The same note, played on different instruments, can have a very different quality of sound. We will explore the mathematics governing the relationships between these qualities of sounds, and the shape and dimensions of the instruments used to produce them.


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Sarah Hart is the first woman Professor of Geometry at Gresham College, and was appointed in 2020. She is Professor of Mathematics and Head of Mathematics and Statistics at Birkbeck, University of London.

She studied at Oxford and Manchester, gaining her PhD in 2000. Postdoctoral research and teaching followed, including a prestigious Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council Fellowship, before she was appointed to a lectureship at Birkbeck in 2004. She has been Professor of Mathematics there since 2013. She is also Vice President of the British Society for the History of Mathematics.

Sarah is an active researcher, publishing mainly in the area of pure mathematics known as group theory, which has many applications both inside and outside of mathematics, for example in coding theory and cryptography. She is passionate about communicating mathematics and is a sought-after public speaker. She is particularly interested in the links between mathematics, culture and creativity: many of her public lectures and talks in schools are on this topic, especially on mathematics and art.

In 2020-21, Professor Hart will be lecturing on Mathematics in Music and Writing, part of a three-year exploration of Mathematics, Culture and Creativity.

All lectures by the Gresham Professors of Geometry can be found here.


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