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Gentry lecturer to explore legendary mathematician's functions in number theory


September 25, 2008

The 2008-2009 Gentry Lectures will be presented Oct. 23 and 24 at Wake Forest University by Ken Ono, the Manasse Professor of Letters and Science and Hilldale Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

The free public lecture will be held at 4 p.m. Oct. 24 in Annenberg Forum, Carswell Hall, Room 111, and is titled “Unearthing the Visions of a Master:  The Web of Ramanujan’s Mock Theta Functions in Number Theory.”  The talk is intended for a general audience.  Ono says the legend of Ramanujan is the story of an untrained mathematician from India who discovered original and unconventional mathematical theorems well ahead of his time.  While Ramanujan’s work is well documented, including direct connections to modern number theory such as proof of the Weil Conjectures and Fermat’s Last Theorem, Ono’s talk will focus on the enigmatic functions Ramanujan discovered on his death bed.

Ono has authored more than 100 research papers.   Among the many awards and honors he has received are a Guggenheim Fellowship and the 2005 National Science Foundation Director’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award.

A lecture reserved for the campus community will be held at 4 p.m. Oct. 23 in Manchester Hall, Room 016, titled “Freeman Dyson’s Challenge for the Future:  The Mock Theta Functions.”  A reception will be held before both talks at 3 p.m. in Manchester Hall, Room 336.

The Ivey and Nell Gentry Lectureship was established in 1986 to bring an outstanding scholar in mathematics to the Wake Forest campus each year.  Ivey Gentry joined the mathematics faculty at Wake Forest beginning in 1949 and served as chair of the department from 1956 – 1981.  He retired in 1989.

Press Contacts:

Audrey Fannin
(336) 758-5237


Kevin Cox
(336) 758-5237


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