This seminar is part of a group of seminars with the code SP1201M organized by the Faculty of Science which gives an overview on these seminars on their webpage. They are for students in the first year of studies and give the opportunity to get some experience in presenting scientific talks to an audience. Each student has to prepare and present a talk and to provide a write-up on the talk. The URL of this webpage is

http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~fstephan/seminar-sp1201.htmland please check this url for updates on the seminar.

Frank Stephan's addresses are: (1) Department of Mathematics, National University of Singapore 2 Science Drive 2, Singapore 117543 Primary Office: S14#04-13, Telephone +65-6516-2759 (2) School of Computing, National University of Singpore Law Link, Computing 1 (COM1), Singapore 117590 Shared Secondary Office: COM1#02-16, Telephone +65-6516-4246 The telefax in the main office of the Department of Mathematics is +65-67795452 The email address is fstephan@comp.nus.edu.sg; other email addresses are read less frequently, thus please use this one. |

In general, please see F. Stephan's main webpage for office hours and times available. In AY 2009/2010, first semester, the office hours are Tuesday 10:00-11:00 hrs in S14#04-13 (Department of Mathematics) and Thursday 09:00-10:00 hrs in COM1#02-16 (School of Computing).

- Thursday 01 October 2009

Talk 1.**Widjaja Wensley Louis**. Blaise Pascal: a mathematician and inventor of calculating equipment.

Talk 2.**Chen Jieming Benjamin**. Moore's law: Will this prophecy ever end?

- Thursday 08 October 2009

Talk 1.**Neo Wei Xuan**. Cryptography: the art of keeping secrets secret and the art of breaking other people's codes.

Talk 2.**Ang Siew Min**. History and overview of Google.

- Thursday 15 October 2009

Talk 1.**Tan Rui Min Cristal**. Modern trends in computing: personal computers, internet, mobile computing, ...

Talk 2.**Teo Maggie**. The computer revolution from the 1940ies to the 1960ies.

- Thursday 22 October 2009

Talk 1.**Ng Kwee Haan**. Alan Turing: life and legacy of a great thinker.

Talk 2.**Teo Kay Liang Alan**. Number systems: a historic outline.

- Thursday 29 October 2009

Talk 1.**Gonpot Livesh**. Ramanujam Iyer.

Talk 2.**Chen Keming**. The humanity of calculus - a historical perspective.

- Thursday 05 November 2009

Talk 1.**Tan Jieshi**. Ada Lovelace: Charles Babbage's programmer.

Talk 2.**Loke Ek Theng**. Charles Babbage: the inventor of a computer which never became ready.

Talk 3.**Xin Ge**. Bill Gates: success with making software instead of hardware.

- Thursday 12 November 2009

Talk 1.**Lai Kiu**. Algorithms: the basic ideas and formalizations; the first algorithm of Euclid.

Talk 2.**Yeo Sian Ong**. Computers and chess: from the beginnings until the time Big Blue defeated chess champion Kasparov.

- Number systems: historic outline
- The mathematics behind number systems: the base, representation of numbers, transforming numbers from one system into another, numbersystems important for computers (binary, octal, hexadecimal)
- Early computing devices: the Abacus, mechanical calculators, the slide-rule
- Algorithms: the basic ideas and formalizations; the first algorithm of Euclid
- Programming languages: variables, data-types, conditional statements and loops
- An application: algorithms to find the roots of polynomials: exact roots for polynomials of degree 2,3; impossibility to express roots of polynomials of degree 5; approximations in the general case
- The limits of computation - the halting problem (formalization of programming and its limitations)
- Computers and proofs: The four colour theorem
- Formalizing the theory of natural numbers and Goedel's incompleteness theorem; life and work of Kurt Goedel
- The history of pi: the art to compute many digits of a difficult number
- Computers and chess: from the beginnings until the time Big Blue defeated Chess Champion Kasparov
- Cryptography: The art of keeping secrets secret and the art of breaking other people's codes
- Blaise Pascal: a mathematician and inventor of calculating equipment
- Charles Babbage: the inventor of a computer which never became ready
- Ada Lovelace: Charle Babbage's programmer
- Hermann Hollerith: computing equipment for large statistical evaluations
- The computer revolution from the 1940ies to the 1960ies
- Modern trends in computing: personal computers, internet, mobile computing, ...
- Bill Gates: success with making software instead of hardware
- Linus Torvalds: Linux, an open source alternative to the operating system Windows
- History and overview of Google
- George Boole: laying out the theoretical foundations of binary logic
- Konrad Zuse: one of the pioneers in building the first working computers
- Ramanujam Iyer
- IBM's early computers
- Alan Turing: life and legacy of a great thinker
- The mathematical century

Note that pictures on the internet have often a copyright and that it might therefore not be legal to reproduce them, in doubt omit them.

Although essays have to rely on sources, they should not be produced by copying and pasting from any other source. Cited text has to be marked with the source given and does not count for the 3000 word minimum length. Every place where text is cited has to be marked as a citation.

The NUS considers plagiarism - that is, copying text and claim that this text is own work - as a serious offence. Therefore it is better to write a non-perfect essay than to copy and paste text from the internet. Even getting the word minimum length full is not as important as to avoid plagiarism. See also the webpage on academic culture (http://emodule.nus.edu.sg/ac/launch.htm) and the section there about plagiarism.

- Alphabetic list of biographies of mathematicians: http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/BiogIndex.html; this webpage has a large list of biographies of people working in mathematics and computer science.
- Google: http://www.google.com.sg; this is a general purpose search machine which displays links to desired webpages according to the keywords entered in the search.
- Altavista: http://www.altavista.com; this is a general purpose search machine which displays links to desired webpages according to the keywords entered in the search.
- Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org; this webpage exists also in other languages and the search is slow, Wikipedia pages are fastest found by entering the search words plus the word "Wikipedia" into Google; Wikipedia often has external links to other webpages; Wikipedia is very comprehensive, but can be edited by everyone which results occasionally in one-sided information.
- Encyclopedia Britannica: http://www.britannica.com; An online encyclopedia, some parts are not as comprehensive as Wikipedia, but it is written by professional editors with the goal to give precise and reliable information; F. Stephan is subscriber of the online version of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com; This online book shop displays a lot of information on books which can be bought; in the case that you want to order books, please note that this company sits in (several) foreign countries and hence postal charges are higher than displayed on the webpage, prices are given in foreign currencies and subcontractors do mostly not deliver to Singapore.