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Who Discovered Imaginary Numbers? Or, How Solving a Cubic Equation Ended Up in a Duel

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Astrid Giugni

Can you imagine a time when mathematicians and scholars in general resolved intellectual disagreements by resorting to public contests and insulting each other in print? In the 15th and 16th centuries, Italian mathematicians took on the difficult task of solving cubic equations (equations of the form ax3 + bx2 + cx +d = 0). This pursuit prompted one of the most colorful events in mathematical history, which involved problem-solving "duels." It also led to the discovery of imaginary numbers! Join fellow Duke undergraduates from the Mathematics department and the Medieval and Renaissance studies program for an entertaining look at Renaissance mathematics and chivalry! Led by Dr. Astrid Giugni. Dinner will be provided. RSVP to Michael Cornett at