#### Distinguished Lecture

# What is the Zeta Function?

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John Derbyshire, author of the book PRIME OBSESSION, will speak about his experiences in attempting to bring an understanding of the Riemann

Hypothesis to a general audience. What is the Hypothesis, and what accounts for its current prominence in lists of great unsolved problems? Does it have any practical relevance? If the Hypothesis were to be resolved tomorrow, what would be the consequences? Why did the author (who is a journalist, not a professional mathematician) feel moved to write a popular book about it? Mr. Derbyshire will go on to develop some general ideas about the place of math in the consciousness of well-educated but non-mathematical Americans, based on reactions to his book in particular, and to the current fashion for pop-math books in general. He will report on the kinds of questions that non-mathematical readers typically ask him, especially the question: What USE is it? Throughout his talk Mr. Derbyshire will draw on examples from the history of mathematics. He will offer ideas about the development of mathematical thinking, the place of math in the popular consciousness, and the future of math.