UPDATE:  Currently we are scheduled for in-person Clanton Visiting Mathematician program for the 2021-2022 academic year.  Should adjustments to this schedule be required due to COVID regulations and protocols, updates will be available on this site.


On Thursday, March 17, 2022,  the Department of Mathematics will welcome Dr. Francis Su as our 2021-22 Clanton Visiting Mathematician speaker.  There will be an afternoon colloquium talk and also a general audience talk in the evening.

Francis Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College and a former president of the Mathematical Association of America. In 2013, he received the Haimo Award, a nationwide teaching prize for college math faculty, and in 2018 he won the Halmos-Ford writing award. His research in geometric combinatorics includes many papers co-authored with undergraduates. His work has been featured in Quanta Magazine, Wired, and the New York Times. His book Mathematics for Human Flourishing (2020), winner of the 2021 Euler Book Prize, offers an inclusive vision of what math is, who it’s for, and why anyone should learn it.


Afternoon Reception

Cancelled due to COVID protocols.


Afternoon Colloquium Talk

3:30 p.m.
Johns Hall 101

The Game of Cycles

The Game of Cycles, introduced in my book Mathematics for Human Flourishing, is played on a connected planar graph together with its bounded cells, and players take turns marking edges with arrows according to a sink-source rule that gives the game a topological flavor. I first started playing this game with Christopher Jackson, an incarcerated man who is a featured contributor to my book. With Chris and several other mathematicians, we wrote a paper together about this game, and I’ll share some of the things we discovered.


Evening Presentation

7:30 p.m.
Shaw Hall, Younts Conference Center

Mathematics for Human Flourishing

Math is more than just a way to describe the world, and it is more than just a set of skills, like doing arithmetic or factoring a quadratic.  Math is a deeply human enterprise that fulfills basic human longings, such as for beauty and truth, and when properly engaged, it builds virtues like persistence, creativity, and a competence to solve problems you’ve never seen before. These virtues will serve you well no matter what you do in life. The deep connection between mathematics and human desires show why people in every culture around the globe do mathematics, not just to build things and conduct commerce, but for enjoyment and exploration. An incarcerated man—now my friend—has helped me see this more clearly than ever before.


Previous Canton Speakers

  • 2019-2020:  Daniel Litt, University of Georgia
  • 2018-2019:  Gigliola Staffilani, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • 2017-2018:  Jill C. Pipher, Brown University
  • 2016-2017:  William Trotter, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 2015-2016:  Richarad Karp, University of California, Berkeley
  • 2014-2015:  Bryna Kra, Northwestern University
  • 2013-2014:  Avi Wigderson, Institute of Advanced Study, Princeton, NJ
  • 2012-2013: Ken Ono, Emory University
  • 2011-2012: William J. Cook, Georgia Institute of Technology
  • 2010-2011: J. Michael Steele, University of Pennsylvania
  • 2009-2010: Donald Saari, University of California, Irvine
  • 2008-2009: Stephen Stigler, University of Chicago
  • 2007-2008: Colin Clark, University of British Columbia
  • 2006-2007: Barry Mazur, Harvard University
  • 2005-2006: Peter Winkler, Dartmouth College
  • 2003-2004: Jeffrey Weeks, Mathematician and author of The Shape of Space
  • 2002-2003: Frank Morgan, Williams College
  • 2001-2002: George Andrews, Pennsylvania State University
  • 2000-2001: Kenneth Ribet, University of California, Berkeley
  • 1999-2000: Jonathan Borwein, Simon Fraser University
  • 1998-1999: Carolyn Gordon, Dartmouth College
  • 1997-1998: Mary Ellen Rudin, University of Wisconsin
  • 1996-1997: László Lovász, Yale University
  • 1995-1996: Frederick Mosteller, Harvard University
  • 1994-1995: Saunders MacLane, University of Chicago
  • 1993-1994: Persi Diaconis, Harvard University
  • 1992-1993: John H. Conway, Princeton University
  • 1991-1992: Paul Halmos, Santa Clara University
  • 1990-1991: Bradley Efron, Stanford University
  • 1989-1990: Carl Pomerance, University of Georgia
  • 1988-1999: Heinz-Otto Peitgen, University of Bremen
  • 1987-1988: Ronald Graham, AT&T Bell Laboratories