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Proseminar Mathematics and Magic [MA6001]

Sommersemester 2012

Prof. Dr. Michael M. Wolf, Dr. David Reeb, Dr. Daniel Reitzner

Seminarleitung: Prof. Dr. Michael M. Wolf, Dr. David Reeb, Dr. Daniel Reitzner
Place and time: Tuesdays 14:15-15:45, seminar room 03.10.011
Dates: 24.4., 8.5., 22.5., 5.6., 12.6., 19.6., 26.6., 10.7., 17.7., 24.7. (spare)
Literature: Will be provided (sent via email) in the following weeks
Prerequisites: Analysis 1 & 2, Linear Algebra 1 & 2
Participation: In each seminar session your participation is compulsory (schedule below)


A good magician is an honest liar — he says he is going to decieve you and then he does! He relies on his good abilities of sleight of hand, the power of influence and suggestion and of course on his abilities to perform. But sometimes a good trick contains something more — mathematics is a founding stone in many tricks. We will learn about such magic tricks which have an interesting underlying mathematical structure. The mathematics ranges from combinatorics over knot theory to differential equations. The corresponding ’magic’ involves card tricks as well as invisibility cloaks.


Format of the Presentations

Schedule and Presentation Topics

On this meeting we will provide you basic information on what to expect and what and how to present.

Prepare to be awed and puzzled by the skills of mind-reading. Does the presenter really possess the power of extrasensory perception?
(supervised by D. Reitzner) | (handout)

Does one needs to be a proficient shuffler to be able to prepare a deck so that after shuffling he can still get a good hand?
(supervised by D. Reitzner) | (handout)

How can one find a chosen card within a shuffled deck? Is it magic? Is it deception? Or just some good ole’ math?
(supervised by D. Reitzner)

All right. Previously we had shuffles that did not allow one to decide how to shuffle, but here we will see, that even if you have a word into the way how one shuffles, the result may be surprising.
(supervised by D. Reitzner) | (handout)

Probability is a concept we encounter every day in our lives. Yet it can have many strange and counterintuitive consequences.
(supervised by D. Reitzner) | (handout)

Knots seem simple enough for the majority of people to consider they have grasp of them — we all tie shoe-laces and some of us even ties. Loops are one of the simple knots, yet if one knows how, one can fool a lot of people.
(supervised by D. Reeb) | (handout pdf, doc)

David Copprefield once made the statue of Liberty disappear. Of course in reality the statue was still there, just for the people seeing this it was an elaborate illusion. Hiding of objects was for a long time area for illusionists or for science fiction. A recent boom in studies of invisibility shows, that reality might not be so far.
(supervised by D. Reeb) | (handout)

Banach-Tarski, infinite hatted queue paradox...
(supervised by D. Reeb) | (handout)