access to ideas


Podcast Profile: My Favorite Theorem

podcast imageTwitter: @niveknosdunk@evelynjlamb (@evelynjlamb followed by 247 accounts on physicist, mathematician, and astronomer lists)
Site: kpknudson.com/my-favorite-theorem
84 episodes
2017 to present
Average episode: 28 minutes
Open in Apple PodcastsRSS

Categories: Interview-Style • Math • Two Hosts

Podcaster's summary: Join us as we spend each episode talking with a mathematical professional about their favorite result. And since the best things in life come in pairs, find out what our guest thinks pairs best with their theorem.

Discover other podcasts.

List Updated: 2023-Mar-24 12:44 UTC. Episodes: 84. Feedback: @TrueSciPhi.

2023-Feb-16 • 27 minutes
Episode 83 - Cihan Bahran
Cihan Bahran has a popular twitter feed in which he shares surprising theorems. His favorite? Matrix mortality is undecidable.
2022-Dec-30 • 29 minutes
Episode 82 - Juliette Bruce
Juliette Bruce is an algebraic geometer who loves to think about embedding curves in projective space. Also mountaineering.
2022-Nov-26 • 33 minutes
Episode 81 - Christopher Danielson
Technically this is a theorem, but it seems so obvious that it's unclear that it needs a proof. In this episode Christopher Danielson points out that polygons have same number of sides as vertices. Many shapes make an appearance.
2022-Oct-21 • 34 minutes
Episode 80 - Kimberly Ayers
Kimberly Ayers likes dynamics and so obvs her fave theorem is Sharkovskii's result that "period 3 implies chaos." Also taffy.
2022-Sep-15 • 35 minutes
Episode 79 - Philip Ording
Philip Ording wrote a cool book (you should check it out) and he likes the Erlangen Program. Not really a theorem, but we're not purists around here.
2022-Aug-11 • 28 minutes
Episode 78 - Daina Taimina
Daina Taimina is famous for her adventures in mathematical crocheting, but her favorite theorem comes from Desargues. She also likes to travel.
2022-Jul-13 • 26 minutes
Episode 77 - Tien Chih
Tien Chih loves combinatorics, which means he really loves proving things by induction. In this episode we have a good time learning about this incredibly useful technique in mathematics.
2022-Jun-09 • 59 minutes
Episode 76 - Math Students of CSULA
We are joined by a group of math students at Cal State University in Los Angeles for a diverse collection of theorems and pairings.
2022-Mar-17 • 31 minutes
Episode 75 - Dave Kung
We can't believe it took 75 episodes to get to the Banach-Tarski paradox, but finally Dave Kung chose it as his favorite theorem. Also, Enigma Variations.
2022-Feb-11 • 43 minutes
Episode 74 - Priyam Patel
An old favorite theorem makes its third appearance on the pod, but we always like to learn new points of view. Priyam Patel likes the Brouwer Fixed Point theorem, and this time we learn how it helps classify isometries of hyperbolic space. Also, rock climbing.
2022-Jan-13 • 42 minutes
Episode 73 - Courtney Gibbons
Courtney Gibbons likes isomorphism theorems. All three of them, in fact, and she wants to remind you they are due to Emmy Noether, despite most textbooks ignoring that fact. Also, bunnies.
2021-Dec-10 • 23 minutes
Episode 72 - Kameryn Williams
Kameryn Williams is a logician and their favorite theorem is the less well-known Condensation Lemma of Gödel. Also brie.
2021-Nov-11 • 40 minutes
Episode 71 - Emily Howard
Composer Emily Howard uses mathematical objects and ideas as inspiration for her orchestral and chamber pieces. In this episode we talk to her about "Torus" which was inspired by work with dynamicists.
2021-Sep-22 • 40 minutes
Episode 70 - Joel David Hamkins
Mathematician and philosopher Joel David Hamkins likes games (whatever those are) and his favorite theorem is that winning strategies exist. This requires defining "games", "strategies", and all kinds of other stuff. Also chess.
2021-Aug-14 • 36 minutes
Episode 69 - Ranthony Edmonds
Mathematician Ranthony Edmonds likes factorization in general, so it's no surprise her favorite theorem is the Fundamental Theorem of Arithmetic. And some history. And mead.
2021-Jul-08 • 27 minutes
Episode 68 - Rekha Thomas
Mathematician Rekha Thomas likes things to have applications, and nothing fits that bill better than linear algebra. In this episode we learn that the singular value decomposition gives us a lot more information than you might have realized. Also, migratory birds.
2021-Jun-10 • 33 minutes
Episode 67 - Liz Munch
Mathematician Liz Munch really likes the duality inherent in the Max Flow-Min Cut Theorem. And harps.
2021-May-15 • 37 minutes
Episode 66 - Érika Roldán
Mathematician Érika Roldán likes probability and topology and all kinds of fun stuff. Her favorite theorem involves card shuffling, but it eventually leads to Tetris. Also 3D art.
2021-Apr-08 • 29 minutes
Episode 65 - Howard Masur
Howard Masur likes the Riemann Mapping Theorem, a result relating topology (simply connected subsets of the plane) and geometry (conformal mappings).
2021-Mar-11 • 49 minutes
Episode 64 - Pamela Harris and Aris Winger
Pamela Harris and Aris Winger have a podcast you should check out, but they also have favorite theorems as diverse as Zeckendorf's theorem about unique representations of integers as sums of Fibonacci numbers and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus. Also ceviche and pizza.
2021-Feb-11 • 51 minutes
Episode 63 - Lily Khadjavi
Mathematician Lily Khadjavi does more interviewing than we do in this episode, as she proposes a taxonomy of theorems.
2021-Jan-15 • 32 minutes
Episode 62 - Tai-Danae Bradley
Mathematician Tai-Danae Bradley is very excited about the singular value decomposition. And category theory. And Dum Dums.
2020-Dec-10 • 22 minutes
Episode 61 - Yoon Ha Lee
Science fiction author Yoon Ha Lee has degrees in mathematics and it shows. We revisit an old favorite, Cantor's diagonalization argument. Also waffles.
2020-Nov-12 • 41 minutes
Episode 60 - Michael Barany
Historian of mathematics Michael Barany has a favorite definition, really, and it's about distributions. Also, we talk about the history of the Fields Medal and a well-thought-out pairing.
2020-Oct-08 • 27 minutes
Episode 59 - Daniel Litt
Daniel Litt really likes Dirichlet's theorem on primes in arithmetic progressions and it's easy to see why. But we'll let him explain. Also Holmes and Watson make an appearance.
2020-Sep-10 • 25 minutes
Episode 58 - Susan D'Agostino
The Jordan Curve Theorem is one of the most well-known results in mathematics and everyone thinks it's obvious. But as Susan D'Agostino points out, there are weird curves where it's not so clear. Also, poetry.
2020-Aug-13 • 33 minutes
Episode 57 - Annalisa Crannell
This special episode is a mashup with the Talk Math With Your Friends online seminar series and features mathematician Annalisa Crannell telling us all about Desargues' Theorem, or, as she would call it, the Fundamental Theorem of Perspective Geometry. Also, chopsticks.
2020-Jul-09 • 35 minutes
Episode 56 - Belin Tsinnajinnie
Voting theory is on everyone's mind these days. Belin Tsinnajinnie joins us to talk about Arrow's Impossibility Theorem which asserts that the only voting system that conforms to some reasonable rules is a dictatorship by one person. Also tacos.
2020-Jun-11 • 25 minutes
Episode 55 - Rebecca Garcia
One of those first weird facts you learn in real analysis is that the rational numbers are dense in the reals. And then you learn later that they're measure zero. Our guest, Rebecca Garcia, says this still kind of blows her mind.
2020-May-14 • 33 minutes
Episode 54 - Steve Strogatz
Steve Strogatz is famous for his work in dynamical systems, but his favorite theorem is due to Cauchy. A classic of complex analysis, it asserts that the integral of an analytic function around a closed contour is zero; one of the cleanest results in mathematics. Also, cubism.
2020-Apr-09 • 29 minutes
Episode 53 - Ruthi Hortsch
Ruthi Hortsch has a very cool job working with middle school math students, but she's also a number theorist who really likes Faltings's Theorem. Also bagels.
2020-Mar-12 • 27 minutes
Episode 52 - Ben Orlin
Ben Orlin is famous for his bad drawings. In this episode he tells us about Weierstrass's ultimate bad drawing--a continuous function that is nowhere differentiable.
2020-Feb-13 • 29 minutes
Episode 51 - Carina Curto
Mathematician Carina Curto really likes the Perron-Frobenius Theorem. Listen to find out why this simple-sounding result is so important and useful.
2020-Jan-09 • 35 minutes
Episode 50 - aBa
aBa took a circuitous path to becoming a math professor. His favorite theorem is a number theory fact he figured out on the bus one day and it changed the course of his life.
2019-Dec-12 • 31 minutes
Episode 49 - Edmund Harriss
Mathematician and artist Edmund Harriss thinks about geometry. A lot. And that means considering the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem and how it manifests in the real world.
2019-Nov-14 • 23 minutes
Episode 48 - Sophie Carr
Bayes's Theorem: love it or hate it you can't deny that it's a useful tool in probability. Join this year's most interesting mathematician Sophie Carr to find out why she loves this theorem so much.
2019-Oct-10 • 32 minutes
Episode 47 - Judy Walker
Judy Walker loves coding theory and tells us all about her favorite ones in this episode. Elliptic curves FTW!
2019-Sep-12 • 31 minutes
Episode 46 - Adriana Salerno
Adriana Salerno loves one of the most famous arguments in mathematics--Cantor's Diagonalization Argument. We couldn't agree more (although we certainly agree plenty in the episode).
2019-Aug-08 • 36 minutes
Episode 45 - Your Flash Favorite Theorems
At the 2019 Joint Mathematics Meetings in Baltimore, Kevin and Evelyn asked lots of folks to tell us about their favorite results, and do it in a hurry. The pairings, thought of on the fly, do not disappoint.
2019-Jul-11 • 29 minutes
Episode 44 - James Propp
In this episode James Propp challenges the obvious notion that things that don't change must be constant. Indeed, it would be an odd universe in which this were not true, but it very much depends upon, and is in fact equivalent to, the completeness of the real numbers. Also potato chips.
2019-Jun-13 • 29 minutes
Episode 43 - Matilde Lalin
Number theorist Matilde Lalin introduces us to the Congruent Number Problem: which integers can occur as the area of a right triangle with rational sides? This turns out to have deep connections to elliptic curves and the Birch and Swinnerton-Dyer Conjectures and other cool stuff.
2019-May-09 • 25 minutes
Episode 42 - Moon Duchin
Geometer Moon Duchin shares her favorite result, a wild generalization of the classical isoperimetric inequality to the landscape of infinite groups. Also politics and gerrymandering, of course.
2019-Apr-25 • 30 minutes
Episode 41 - Suresh Venkatasubramanian
Our first computer scientist guest tells us about Fano's Inequality and tells us the best snack to enjoy with it.
2019-Apr-11 • 28 minutes
Episode 40 - Ursula Whitcher
Mathematician Ursula Whitcher really likes mirror symmetry. And ramen. Find out what this is and why it pairs with noodle soup.
2019-Mar-28 • 29 minutes
Episode 39 - Fawn Nguyen
Middle school math teacher Fawn Nguyen gets excited about right triangles and tells us all kinds of trivia about one of the most famous theorems in all of mathematics.
2019-Mar-14 • 24 minutes
Episode 38 - Robert Ghrist
Prof. Rob Ghrist likes dynamics and his favorite theorem unifies the continuous and the discrete by relating the two essential operations in each. Fueled by Monster energy drink.
2019-Feb-28 • 25 minutes
Episode 37 - Cynthia Flores
Cynthia Flores likes uncertainty so much that Heisenberg's Uncertainty Inequality is her favorite theorem. Plus Rick and Morty.
2019-Feb-14 • 30 minutes
Episode 36 - Nikita Nikolaev & Beatriz Navarro Lameda
Our guests' wedding went viral and we just had to talk to them. Also, the Intermediate Value Theorem.
2019-Jan-24 • 22 minutes
Episode 35 - Nira Chamberlain
Nira Chamberlain likes applied mathematical models. In this episode he tells us about the Lorenz attractor and how that pairs nicely with Caribbean food.
2019-Jan-10 • 24 minutes
Episode 34 - Skip Garibaldi
In middle school, mathematician Skip Garibaldi wondered how many real numbers you can actually name. The answer is not as many as you'd like.
2018-Dec-27 • 29 minutes
Episode 33 - Michele Audin
Mathematician and writer Michele Audin lets us know why she loves Stokes's Theorem enough to have written a novel about it.
2018-Dec-13 • 25 minutes
Episode 32 - Anil Venkatesh
Mathematician Anil Venkatesh likes the Shapley Value, and it turns out to have applications unrelated to politics.
2018-Nov-29 • 18 minutes
Episode 31 - Yen Duong
Mathematician-journalist Yen Duong joins us to talk about Ramsey theory and the first "real" theorem she learned--the Ramsey number R(3,3) is 6.
2018-Nov-08 • 25 minutes
Episode 30 - Katie Steckles
Join us to learn about the Fold and Cut Theorem, which asserts that it is possible to cut any polygonal shape via a single cut provided you fold the paper correctly.
2018-Oct-25 • 20 minutes
Episode 29 - Mike Lawler
Mike Lawler is a mathematician working in finance. Join us to learn an interesting theorem about insurance pricing.
2018-Oct-11 • 20 minutes
Episode 28 - Chawne Kimber
Join mathematician Chawne Kimber for a journey into Archimedean groups, lattice-ordered groups, and quilting.
2018-Sep-27 • 24 minutes
Episode 27 - James Tanton
James Tanton is the MAA's "Mathematician at Large" and he joins us to talk about Sperner's Lemma.
2018-Sep-13 • 27 minutes
Episode 26 - Erika Camacho
Applied mathematician Erika Camacho tells us about modeling diseases of the eye using systems of differential equations. Her favorite theorem allows her to understand the solutions to these types of systems.
2018-Aug-23 • 24 minutes
Episode 25 - Holly Krieger
Our first repeat theorem! But our guest has a completely different take on the Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem, giving us a ton of facts about Brouwer the mathematician.
2018-Aug-09 • 20 minutes
Episode 24 - Vidit Nanda
Contractions on complete metric spaces have unique fixed points. That's a pretty cool theorem, according to our guest Vidit.
2018-Jul-26 • 32 minutes
Episode 23 - Ingrid Daubechies
Ingrid Daubechies has lots of favorite theorems, but right now it's all about planar graph embeddings. Find out why in this episode.
2018-Jul-12 • 30 minutes
Episode 22 - Ken Ribet
Euclid taught us that there are infinitely many primes. In this episode Ken Ribet tells us why this is his favorite theorem and gives us a couple of interesting proofs.
2018-Jun-28 • 23 minutes
Episode 21 - Jana Rodriguez Hertz
Mathematician Jana Rodriguez Hertz tells us about the Smale horseshoe map, symbolic dynamics, noodles, and all kinds of other fun stuff.
2018-Jun-14 • 22 minutes
Episode 20 - Francis Su
Join mathematician Francis Su to find out why he thinks the Brouwer Fixed Point Theorem is so appealing.
2018-May-24 • 32 minutes
Episode 19 - Emily Riehl
Category theorist Emily Riehl tells us her second-favorite theorem: right adjoints preserve limits. Since this is category theory we get another theorem for free by dualizing: left adjoints preserve colimits. Listen to find out Emily's favorite theorem, too.
2018-May-10 • 24 minutes
Episode 18 - John Urschel
Join former NFL lineman/current mathematician John Urschel to learn about how to take a dense graph and find a sparse graph whose Laplacian is very close to that of the original graph. Applied math at its finest.
2018-Apr-26 • 27 minutes
Episode 17 - Nalini Joshi
Join applied mathematician Nalini Joshi to learn about Mittag-Leffler's theorem, a fundamental result in complex analysis that tells us how to build meromorphic functions on the plane with any prescribed set of poles.
2018-Apr-12 • 33 minutes
Episode 16 - Jayadev Athreya
If you stand at the origin in a forest whose trees lie at integer lattice points, what proportion of them can you see? Jayadev Athreya guides us to the answer and then goes further.
2018-Mar-22 • 32 minutes
Episode 15 - Federico Ardila
Mathematician Federico Ardila loves matroids and combinatorics. And he's a DJ. A great combination, you can count on it.
2018-Mar-08 • 23 minutes
Episode 14 - Laura Taalman
Join mathematician Laura Taalman for a journey into the realm of Reidemester moves on knots and just how many you may need to untangle an unknot. The answer may surprise you.
2018-Feb-22 • 19 minutes
Episode 13 - Patrick Honner
Our guest Patrick Honner tells us about Varignon's Theorem about the midpoints of quadrilaterals. Spoiler alert: if you connect them you always (!) get a parallelogram.
2018-Feb-08 • 15 minutes
Episode 12 - Candice Price
Our guest Candice Price tells us about Conway's rational tangles and how they relate to the topology of DNA. Also, shakes from In 'N' Out.
2018-Jan-25 • 17 minutes
Episode 11 - Jeanne Nielsen Clelland
Mathematician Jeanne Nielsen Clelland tells us about the Gauss-Bonnet Theorem, connecting the curvature on a surface to its Euler characteristic. This episode ends with a bang.
2018-Jan-11 • 19 minutes
Episode 10 - Mohamed Omar
Join our guest Mohamed Omar in his love of Burnside's Lemma and learn how to count the number of ways to paint blocks.
2017-Dec-28 • 18 minutes
Episode 9 - Ami Radunskaya
In this episode our guest tells us about Birkhoff's Ergodic Theorem and how it reminds her of certain minimalist music pieces.
2017-Dec-07 • 14 minutes
Episode 8 - Justin Curry
Our guest Justin Curry really likes Platonic solids. So much so, in fact, that he has all five of them tattooed on his body. In this episode we talk about the classification of these solids and what ancient piece of literature they pair with best.
2017-Nov-16 • 24 minutes
Episode 7 - Henry Fowler
Henry Fowler is on the faculty of Dine College in the Navajo Nation. In this episode he tells us about traditional Navajo homes and their relationship to astronomical calculations. The Pythagorean theorem plays an important role.
2017-Oct-26 • 27 minutes
Episode 6 - Eriko Hironaka
We are joined by Eriko Hironaka, who tells us about the first theorem she proved. This episode deals with a lot more than just math and it's one of our favorites.
2017-Oct-05 • 13 minutes
Episode 5 - Dusa McDuff
Dusa McDuff tells us about Gromov's non-squeezing theorem, a fundamental result in symplectic topology.
2017-Sep-14 • 18 minutes
Episode 4 - Jordan Ellenberg
University of Wisconsin professor Jordan Ellenberg reveals that his favorite theorem is Fermat's Little Theorem, which, when you really boil it down, asserts that 1+1 = 2.
2017-Aug-24 • 18 minutes
Episode 3 - Emille Davie Lawrence
University of San Francisco math professor Emille Davie Lawrence joins us to talk about the classification of compact surfaces, west coast coffee, and where to find good donuts.
2017-Aug-03 • 24 minutes
Episode 2 - Dave Richeson
Math Horizons editor Dave Richeson joins us to talk about the area of a circle. You memorized the formula in grade school, but you've probably never thought about the proof or who proved it. Dave knows.
2017-Jul-26 • 23 minutes
Episode 1 - Amie Wilkinson
A conversation with Prof. Amie Wilkinson of the University of Chicago about her favorite theorem. It's a classic.
2017-Jul-21 • 14 minutes
Episode 0 - Your Hosts' Favorite Theorems
Your hosts math prof Kevin Knudson and math/science freelance writer Evelyn Lamb discuss their favorite theorems and reveal what pairs best with them.