The Math Forum: 1996 
Summer Institute - sum96

July 15-19, 1996 - Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

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Allan Adler

Allan Adler is an independent scholar, active in mathematical research. He received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from SUNY Stony Brook in 1974. He has taught at MIT and at Brandeis and has been supported as a researcher at research institutes such as the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (1974-6); the Institut des Hautes Études Scientifiques in Bûres-sur-Yvette, France (1985,1994); the Max-Planck-Institut für Mathematik in Bonn, Germany (1982-3); Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Bombay, India (1981); and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley (1995). However, most of the time since 1983 he has been unemployed, living on loans and handouts and pursuing his various interests, including his research.

Despite his high research profile in pure mathematics, he is also quite interested in experiments in what he likes to call "non-bureaucratic education." In this connection, he recently started a sporadic journal named Labyrinths, which he uses to articulate his own experiences teaching himself subjects other than mathematics. The first issue is distributed on the Internet in the form of unix compressed postscript files, but is not presently available in the form of Web pages. It deals with some of his recent adventures exploring museums and libraries in an effort to understand the inscriptions on ancient artifacts. Subsequent issues will be on completely different topics.

Another educational specialty of his is the problem of making advanced concepts accessible to people who nominally do not have the background to understand them. This has often paid off both in its own right and in teaching students who nominally do have the background but really don't. His interest in the Forum institute stems from his recent collaboration with Suzanne Alejandre and Sarah Seastone on Web pages dealing with some of his original research on magic squares and their higher dimensional analogues. His results on magic squares have been published in research journals and in other, more popular journals; the goal of this collaboration is to make these results accessible to middle school students. He hopes that this effort will also provide the stimulus for a book on magic squares that he has been contemplating for some time.

Apart from his connection with the Web pages on magic squares, Adler hopes that the following issues will also receive attention at the institute:

  1. The importance of guaranteeing the accuracy of the information one is using and distributing on Web pages.
  2. The status of the old technology (i.e. books and libraries) in the emerging electronic literature in this new medium.

Adler's work on magic squares is not his main area of research. He specializes in areas of mathematics that involve algebraic geometry, group theory, representation theory, invariant theory, number theory, and the history of mathematics. In the past he has also published papers in mathematical logic. He is at present completing a book entitled Moduli of Abelian Varieties which will appear as an unremunerated volume of Springer Lecture Notes in Mathematics. His non-mathematical interests include natural languages (living and dead), history, science experiments, musical composition, painting, and writing.

Working Group: Middle School Resources

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Math Forum * * * * 12 July 1996