Math, Swimming, and the Olympics

Posted on December 15th, 2021 by

Professor Ken Ono of the University of Virginia wears many hats. He is the Thomas Jefferson Professor of Mathematics, Chair of the Mathematics Department, and mathematical consultant to the UVA swim team. What?

The linked video highlights this remarkable collaboration and how it helped one UVA swimmer reach her Olympic goal.

So what does this have to do with the Gustavus MCS Department?  In 2015 Professor Ono, then at Emory University, visited the MCS Department to give a pair of lectures.  You see, in addition to the hats mentioned above, Ken is a world renowned expert on the work of the Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and he was interested in learning more about about the Ramanujan bust sculpted by Paul Granlund  displayed on the third floor of Olin Hall. It is worth noting that this sculpture, commissioned by mathematician Richard Askey and paid for by primarily donations from other mathematicians (including Ono’s father), has copies in India and at the Royal Society in London.

So next time you are on the third floor of Olin Hall, take a closer look at our sculpture and imagine the circuitous route from there to Tokyo through Charlottesville, Virginia.

Professor Ken Ono with Professors Barbara Kaiser and Tom LoFaro


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