Mathematical Association of America Seaway Section Distinguished Lecture
Monday, October 1, 2018, at 4:00pm
Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University
Free and open to the public
Speaker: Dr. David Brown, Professor and Chair of the Department of Mathematics at Ithaca College
Title: Revolutionary War and Civil War Spycraft and Cryptology
“One if by Land Two if by Sea”
This is a line from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem that describes a secret signal to the patriots about approaching British troops and goes on to commemorate Paul Revere’s Midnight Ride. At the same time, this poem captures the fact that Revere served as a spy and that the colonists engaged in early attempts at cryptology – sending, receiving, and decoding secret messages. In this presentation, we will explore the role that spycraft and cryptology played in the American Revolution and in the U.S. Civil War. We’ll discuss how mathematics plays an essential role in spycraft while revisiting important events in U.S. History.
About the Speaker:
David Brown graduated from Ithaca College and went on to complete a Ph.D. at Cornell University, focusing on dynamical systems. He joined the faculty of Ithaca College in 2001 and is currently the chair of the math department. A major component of his teaching involves research projects with students; he has worked with several dozen undergraduates and has co-authored papers with many of them. In 2008, Dr. Brown was honored with the Mathematical Association of America’s Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by a Beginning Faculty Member. In 2006, he created a first-year seminar course, History of Secrets, that examines the history of espionage and cryptology, from which much of this presentation is drawn.
Sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America Seaway Section, the Niagara University Department of Mathematics, and the Niagara University Office of Academic Affairs.