Lecture April 3 to start Mathematics Awareness Month

A Shippensburg University mathematics professor will present a lecture April 3 to kick-off Mathematics Awareness Month.

EnsleyDr. Doug Ensley, professor of mathematics, will present “Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery: Permutations and Invariance in Card Tricks” at 3:30 p.m. in Dauphin Humanities Center 151. His talk is free and open to the public.

The theme this year of Mathematics Awareness Month is “Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery” in honor of long-time science writer, amateur magician and mathematics popularizer, Martin Gardner.

Ensley’s presentation will show how understanding mathematical properties of card shuffling allows a magician to find order where the spectators expect disorder, often to surprising effect. To this end we will illustrate basic properties of permutations and the idea of invariance through some specific card tricks that anyone can do.

Ensley has been at Shippensburg since 1993. He earned his BS degree from the University of Alabama-Huntsville and his Ph.D. in mathematics from Carnegie Mellon University. He has produced many articles and presentations on the use of “recreational” mathematics to teach serious mathematical concepts, including the publication of the textbook Discrete Mathematics: Mathematical Reasoning and Proof with Puzzles, Patterns, and Games. That book was written with fellow faculty member Dr. J. Winston Crawley.

Ensley has received three National Science Foundation grants to develop technology-based learning materials, and his website, www.flashandmath.com, received the 2009 ICTCM Award for Excellence and Innovation with the Use of Technology in Collegiate Mathematics.

For more information, contact at deensley@ship.edu.