The Shape of Imagination. Mathematics, Language and Imagination

Words. Images. Notes produced by a human voice, a piano, a drum, a washboard. Numbers and equations. All of these are forms of language, vehicles for human thinking, expression, and communication; all of them take on the shapes of our minds and shape our minds in turn, at once the products and the agents of our imaginings. And all of them are used by those who wield them not only to communicate ideas and emotions but to evoke or provoke them in others.

Barry Mazur

Born in New York City, Barry Mazur attended the Bronx High School of Science and MIT, although he did not graduate from the latter on account of failing a then-present ROTC requirement. Regardless, he was accepted for graduate school and received his Ph.D. from Princeton University in 1959, becoming a Junior Fellow at Harvard University from 1961-64. He is currently the Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University. In 1982 he was elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Mazur has received the Veblen Prize in geometry and the Cole Prize in number theory from the American Mathematical Society. He was also awarded the 2000 Leroy P. Steele Prize for Seminal Contribution to Research.

In an expository paper, Number Theory as Gadfly, Mazur describes number theory as a field which produces, without effort, innumerable problems which have a sweet, innocent air about them, tempting flowers; and yet... number theory swarms with bugs, waiting to bite the tempted flower-lovers who, once bitten, are inspired to excesses of effort!

He expanded his thoughts in the 2003 book "Imagining Numbers (particularly the square root of minus fifteen)."

Alice Fulton

Alice Fulton's first fiction collection, The Nightingales of Troy: Connected Stories, was published by W.W. Norton in 2008. Her most recent book of poems is Cascade Experiment: Selected Poems. Felt (W.W. Norton), was awarded the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress. Her other books include poetry collections Sensual Math, Powers Of Congress, Palladium, and Dance Script With Electric Ballerina, and a collection of prose, Feeling as a Foreign Language: The Good Strangeness of Poetry. Fulton has received fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The Ingram Merrill Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, The Michigan Society of Fellows, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Her work has been included in five editions of The Best American Poetry series and in the 10th Anniversary edition, The Best of the Best American Poetry, 1988-1997. Poems and Fiction also have appeared in Tin House, Poetry, The New Yorker, Parnassus, The Paris Review, The New Republic, The Atlantic Monthly, and many other magazines, and her poems have been set to music by Joseph Klein, James Worlton, Anthony Cornicello, Enid Sutherland, and William Bolcom. Fulton is currently the Ann S. Bowers Professor of English at Cornell University.

Fred Lerdahl

Among Fred Lerdahl's many honors are the Koussevitzky Composition Prize (1966), the Composer Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1971, 1988), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1974-75), the Naumburg Recording Award (1977), and the Martha Baird Rockefeller Recording Award (1982). He has also received the Creative Arts Award from the Michigan Council for the Arts (1989), a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities (1991) and a research fellowship from the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (1993-94). He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Music (2001) and earned the ASCAP-Deems Taylor Special Recognition Award (2002). He has received annual ASCAP awards since 1984.  His books on music and composition include  are A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, co-written with linguist Ray Jackendoff (1983, second edition, 1996, MIT Press) and Tonal Pitch Space (2001, Oxford University Press). In addition, he has written numerous articles about computer-assisted composition, music cognition and other topics for leading publications and has been a consulting editor to Music Perception since 1983 and to Musicae Scientiae since 1999. He was the American co-editor of Contemporary Music Review from 1986-2004.  He currently teaches at Columbia University, where he has been the Fritz Reiner Professor of Musical Composition since 1994 and co-directed the Computer Music Center from 1994-98.

Panel Discussions

The Aim is Song: Music vs Words

The Rest is Noise: Language vs Communication

The Body Speaks: The Role of Gesture in Teaching, Art, and Dance

The Code Talkers