Archive for 20th November 2022

Frank Morgan Library Dedication

Dedication of the Frank Morgan Library in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Williams College, November 19, 2022.

Cutting the ribbon (video).

















My remarks (click for video): Thank you. Mihai asked about this tiling discovered by students here. I had a paper with 8 students on the best unit-area pentagonal tile, where best means shortest perimeter. Of course the best triangular tile is the equilateral triangle, the best quadrilateral tile is the square, and for six or more sides, the regular hexagon is best of all. ¬†Unfortunately the regular pentagon does not tile. The best pentagon is a tie, between the prismatic tile here which looks like a house, and the Cairo pentagon which I’ve seen on the streets of Cairo. Successive students discovered that you could mix the two types as in this beautiful tiling you see here and in Colin Adams’s new book on tilings.

Now some deeper history. When ¬†I first came to Williams I found in the old Bronfman a wonderful, distinctive math-stats library, with faculty offices around the perimeter opening onto the library. Those who went before, such as Guil Spencer, who served as chair for 18 years, had paid careful attention to every detail of the plans. For our students it was a favorite place to study, and we’d continually meet and greet them and each other there, sharing mathematics and statistics and often pulling a book from the shelves.

When the old Bronfman was knocked down it seemed that this space would be lost. But thanks to the persistent efforts of faculty, staff, and students, including the remarkable Students of Mathematics and Statistics Advisory Board, SMASAB, this library space as well as prominent classroom space has been preserved and enhanced. What a joy it is to look out today and behold all of that and more, to see all of you who have contributed to that spirit (I see the Horns of Horn Hall) and who have contributed to this place, and who are continuing that communal mission we all love and share. To me it’s the very essence of Williams: the community of faculty, students, and staff working together as colleagues to advance understanding. May Williams never lose that identity, through community such as you and spaces such as this.

Many thanks to Paul Collins, Joey Horn, Margaret, and Ellen Kennedy for photos and videos.