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David Eisenbud: “How to Factorize (Almost) Everything” and Jack McCauley

November 21, 2019

This November 2019 event featured two presentations.

How to Factorize (Almost) Everything

MSRI director and UC Berkeley Professor of Mathematics David Eisenbud recalls that most of us learn in high-school how to factor polynomials: for example, x2-y2 = (x+y)(x-y), and x2+2xy+y2 = (x+y)2. Some of us also learn that factoring y2-x3 is impossible.  However, it is a long tradition in mathematics that one can solve more problems if one widens one’s point of view. David will show how such a widening allows one to factor nearly any. He’ll also share an open problem in the area that touches on the very nature of complexity.

Math Lovers Forum at MSRI: David Eisenbud on “How to Factorize (Almost) Everything” from MSRI  on Vimeo.

David Eisenbud served as Director of MSRI from 1997 to 2007, and began a new term in 2013. He received his PhD in mathematics in 1970 at the University of Chicago under Saunders MacLane and Chris Robson, and was on the faculty at Brandeis University before coming to Berkeley, where he became Professor of Mathematics in 1997. He served from 2009 to 2011 as Director for Mathematics and the Physical Sciences at the Simons Foundation, and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Foundation. He has been a visiting professor at Harvard, Bonn, and Paris. Eisenbud’s mathematical interests range widely over commutative and non-commutative algebra, algebraic geometry, topology, and computer methods.

Eisenbud is Chair of the Editorial Board of the Algebra and Number Theory journal, which he helped found in 2006, and serves on the Board of the Journal of Software for Algebra and Geometry, as well as Springer-Verlag’s book series Algorithms and Computation in Mathematics.

Eisenbud was President of the American Mathematical Society from 2003 to 2005. He is a Director of Math for America, a foundation devoted to improving mathematics teaching. He has been a member of the Board of Mathematical Sciences and their Applications of the National Research Council, and is a member of the U.S. National Committee of the International Mathematical Union. In 2006, Eisenbud was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Jack McCauley

Jack McCauley spoke to MSRI’s Math Lovers Forum (mathlovers.msri.org) in November 2019. In this video recording, engineer, inventor, and philanthropist Jack McCauley discusses his career, as well as a recent creation of his: a handmade calculator capable of doing complex sums, built based, and some of the history behind the original and its creator John Napier, a 16th Century Scottish mathematician.

Math Lovers Forum at MSRI: Jack McCauley from MSRI on Vimeo.

Engineer, inventor, and philanthropist Jack McCauley is a University of California, Berkeley Alumnus (EECS ’86); He is a co-founder of Oculus VR and the chief engineer of the Guitar Hero video game series.


November 21, 2019


Atherton, CA
Atherton, CA United States