MAA Writing Awards
The Mathematics of Doodling
Award: Lester R. Ford
Year of Award: 2012
Publication Information: The American Mathematical Monthly, vol. 118, no. 2, January 2011, pp. 116-129
Summary (From the Prizes and Awards booklet, MathFest 2012)
A doodle involves starting with a shape (for example a "W") on a piece of paper, and then drawing a curve around it, roughly the set of points within a small constant "distance" from the W. Now repeat the procedure starting with the curve obtained and keep repeating. Do the successive doodles get more and more "circular"?
About the Author: (From the Prizes and Awards booklet, MathFest 2012)
Ravi Vakil is a Professor of Mathematics and the Packard University Fellow at Stanford. He is an algebraic geometer, whose work touches on topology, string theory, applied mathematics, combinatorics, number theory, and more. He was a four-time Putnam Fellow while at the University of Toronto. He received his Ph.D. from Harvard, and taught at Princeton and MIT before moving to Stanford. He has received the Dean's Award for Distinguished Teaching, the American Mathematical Society Centennial Fellowship, the Terman fellowship, a Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER grant, and the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He has also received the Coxeter-James Prize from the Canadian Mathematical Society, and André-Aisenstadt Prize. He was the 2009 Hedrick Lecturer at MathFest, and is a MAA Pólya Lecturer. He is an informal advisor to the website mathoverflow. He works extensively with talented younger mathematicians at all levels, from high school through recent Ph.D. students.