Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College

Lecture: Solving Sudoku Games with Mathematics

Friday, October 25

Fisher Science Center - Clark Auditorium


Join us for a lecture on solving sudoku games with mathematics with low-dimensional topologist Mark Brittenham.

The game sudoku involves filling a (partially filled) 9x9 grid with the numbers 1 through 9 so that no row, column, or any of nine 3x3 subgrids contain a repeated number. We will use this game as our main motivation for introducing `modular arithmetic,' where the numbers 1 through 9 live on a circle, as the digits on a nine-hour clock, although, as we will see, two three-hour clocks turn out to be better! In the end, we will describe how to express the solution to a sudoku game in terms of a system of polynomial equations, and demonstrate how a computer algebra system (or `CAS') can use these equations to find the solution.

About the speaker:
Mark Brittenham (University of Nebraska) is interested in knot theory, foliations and laminations of 3-manifolds, as well as combinatorial and geometric group theory. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from Cornell University, advised by Allen Hatcher, after which he was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study for a year. He joined the faculty at the University of Nebraska in 1999 and achieved the rank of full Professor in 2015. His research has been the subject of both NSF and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation grants. Most recently, Mark, along with Susan Hermiller, used computers and a database of knots and knot invariants to disprove the Bernhard-Jablan unknotting conjecture.

Free and open to the public.