SMCM Prof. Lectured on His Love for Math, Music at World's Largest Math Conf. - Southern Maryland Headline News

SMCM Prof. Lectured on His Love for Math, Music at World's Largest Math Conf.



Dr. David Kung, assistant professor of mathematics at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, was invited by the Mathematical Association of America to lecture at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, the largest conference of mathematicians in the world. Kung lectured on the connections between mathematics and music, and the changes today’s music has gone through over the past centuries. (Submitted photo)
ST. MARY’S CITY, Md. (March 05, 2010)—Earlier this year, Dr. David Kung, assistant professor of mathematics at St. Mary’s College of Maryland (SMCM), was invited by the Mathematical Association of America (MMA) to present a lecture at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Francisco, the largest conference of mathematicians in the world. Wednesday, March 31, Kung will bring the lecture, entitled, “How Math Made Modern Music Irrational,” to the East Coast at 4:40 p.m. in Schaefer Hall 106 at the college.

The lecture explores the different musical scales used by classical musicians as far back as the 17th century. “In fact, over the past 500 years, a wide variety of scales have permeated Western music,” said Kung. “Amazingly, none of them is ‘in tune!’ In fact, in some sense, no piano is ever in tune, and irrational numbers – non-fractions – are needed to understand why.” Kung will reprise his talk on Wednesday, March 31, at SMCM as part of the Natural Science and Mathematics Colloquium series.

Kung fell in love with both mathematics and music at a very early age. He completed three degrees from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, in mathematics and physics, before joining the faculty at St. Mary's College. Now chair of the mathematics department, he still enjoys playing violin with students and as the concertmaster of the local COSMIC Symphony. Kung has authored many articles on topics in harmonic analysis and mathematics education, and is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2006 Teaching Award from the Maryland/Virginia/Washington, D.C., section of the MAA.

Recently, Kung spent a year on sabbatical at Fudan University in Shanghai. He is also working on an upcoming book about college math teaching entitled, "What Could They Possibly Be Thinking? Understanding Your College Math Students."

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