While walking around the Singapore Botanic Gardens with my father, he pointed out an exhibition at the Garden’s Library of Botany & Horticulture commemorating the 300th birthday of Carl Linnaeus, ‘the father of animal and plant classification.”

The exhibition was advertised in a large poster with a portrait of Linnaeus and the characters, “300th”, printed in Gothic script. It reminded me of the advertisements for various events and concerts celebrating Mozart’s 250th anniversary last year.

I felt it was good that the Garden’s were doing something to increase public awareness about this figure in biology, but thought nothing more of it, until I came across this comment (on the Amazon page for Euler’s “Elements of Algebra”):

*“2007 is the three hundredth anniversary of the birth of Leonhard Euler. As a result there is likely to be a resurgence of interest in him and of course his work.”*

So Euler was born in 1707 too! As far as I could recall, though, there had been no surge in an interest of either his life or his work in Singapore this year. The music and natural history societies in Singapore had commemorated the lives of their iconic figures, but the mathematical community was silent about the birth of one of the greatest and most influential mathematicians!

But after a few moments of brooding over this sad reality, I realised that, being confined in camp for most of this year, I hadn’t really been in touch with the happenings around Singapore this past year. It would have been unjust to shake my head at the mathematical community in Singapore without first ascertaining the validity of my notion. And besides, I was guilty of being ignorant of Euler’s birthyear, too.

A quick search revealed that the Singapore Mathematical Society, in conjunction with the Swiss House (Euler was Swiss) had planned a series of public lectures and essay competitions to commemorate Euler’s life and influence.

And so I am comforted. Although I’m now brooding over having missed those lectures, some of which sound rather interesting…

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on January 11, 2010 at 5:39 am |tantpisrj mathsoc totally celebrated! too bad you’d graduated. we had an euler week! euler lectures. and an euler amazing race 😀 i remember doing the publicity for it. he also had an exhibition in the SSC where i first learnt the totient function.. and managed to type in ‘euler rocks’ in their morse code machine 😀

maybe you (we) shld do a history of math course before missing any more mathematicians’ anniversaries.. but i don’t like the history of math prof ><

on January 11, 2010 at 11:54 am |zeyou were in mathsoc? haha! if i hadn’t quit after my first session, i might have met you there 😛

what’s the SSC? some ‘seance & socerery club’? 😛 cuz if HE had an exhibition i think some sort of witchery must have been at work 😛

and why’d they have a morse code machine??? do you still know morse code? …./.-/…./.- ! hmm that all sounds fun… and you get to learn funky things that i only learnt about last year like the totient function! maybe i shouldn’t have quit 😛

but i don’t feel inclined to do a history of math course. sounds like the kind of course which is catered for a non-math audience, and hence will have time-consuming non-math stuff like making presentations (altho i might be able to make myself enjoy that… but yeah needa get a good prof… how d’you know which profs are good?).

so much easier to just read ‘men of mathematics’ (which you might not want to read due to politically incorrect title…)… or… THE PRINCETON COMPANION TO MATHEMATICS!!! which i am in love with and am seriously considering buying so that the sg math community at cornell can share it 😛 (we both know we’ll be the ones reading it most ;p)

on January 13, 2010 at 9:17 am |tantpiswhy did you quit after yr first session! well i only really went after j2 coz mathsoc was clearly all rigep (dunno why girls from rg gep didn’t join..) and they were all kinda socially inept (ok maybe that’s why girls from rg gep didn’t join hahaha) don’t talk to girls kind and i was totally alienated. until one of my prisch friends joined mathsoc in j2 then i started going again coz he’d talk to me there haha.

ssc is the singapore science centre!!! clearly you don’t go there enough 😛 and yeah they have a morse code machine! there was a alphanumeric key beside the machine so typing things out was v. difficult! http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?pid=225010&l=1e48d6f4c3&id=587198379

oh hist of math is -definitely- not for non-math audience.. helps you to understand the evolution of math and in which order the terms were defined.. fake math courses are like art of secret writing.. history is 400 lvl leh! well this guy taught me analysis too so i know but mostly can check on ratemyprofessor.com

but do get the princeton companion! (what kind of title is men of mathematics!!!! but i suppose it’s not unjustified… gah.)

on January 13, 2010 at 11:29 pm |zeit’s not true that it’s ri geps there, cos when i went, i think i only knew one person from ri gep, and i don’t think i was very close to him either. i was under the impression that most of them were olympiadists or were fr mathsoc in their sec sch (which in my year was more than just ri/rg 😛 ), but i can’t confirm that cos i was not an olympiadist. so i went for the first session (in a lecture hall), hardly knew anybody, and throughout the session, it was just one student presenting something from the transparency (and he was talking down into the transparency).

the next week, i was intending to give it a shot again. however, i was in the library waiting for it to start, and got carried away reading some math book, which was engaging me more than the previous session had… so since book > session, i decided not to spend my friday afternoons at mathsoc…

(i imagine there’s some rj student who, at this very moment, has just opened the princeton companion to math in the rj library (which they should’ve got by now; it was published in ’08 i think) and has followed my footsteps :P) (it’s that good!)