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The Joy of Abstraction: An Exploration of Math, Category Theory, and LifeMaster ClassIn-Person

Pierre Gentine

Wednesday, Mar 13, 2024

9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m

Open to participants in the Early Career Fellowship.

Category theory, a branch of abstract mathematics, has become indispensable to pure mathematics and parts of theoretical physics, computer science, philosophy, biology, chemistry, AI, and even linguistics. This master class will introduce basic category theory and show that its primary ideas are relevant to all mathematical thinking. While we will experiment with graduate-level material, we’ll also explore more accessible problems appropriate for middle-school and high-school classrooms. We’ll bring abstract mathematical ideas down to earth by using examples of social justice, current events, and everyday life in a way that can be profoundly motivating—especially to students who often feel excluded from mathematics education. Finally, we’ll discuss how “abstract” doesn't mean “irrelevant” and how abstract thinking can help us understand urgent issues in the world around us. There are no prerequisites other than curiosity, basic arithmetic skills, and an open mind!


Eugenia Cheng

Dr. Eugenia Cheng is a mathematician, educator, demystifier, author, public speaker, columnist, concert pianist, and artist. She was an early pioneer of math on YouTube and her videos have been viewed over twenty million times to date. In addition to teaching undergraduates, she has assisted with mathematics in elementary, middle, and high schools for over twenty-five years. She is the author of popular math books, including How to Bake Pi and The Art of Logic, as well as two children’s books. She is the founder of the Liederstube, an intimate oasis for art song based in Chicago. Dr Cheng is scientist-in-residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, won tenure in pure mathematics at the University of Sheffield, and holds a PhD in pure mathematics from the University of Cambridge.