Public Lecture in conjunction with the Science Atlantic Conference

The speaker will be Dave Kung of St. Mary's College of Maryland.

Title: Harmonious Equations: an Exploration of Math & Music

Time: Oct. 25, 7:30 pm, followed by a reception


Mathematics and music seem to come from different spheres (arts and sciences), yet they share an amazing array of commonalities. We will explore these connections by examining the musical experience from a mathematical perspective. The mathematical study of a single vibrating string unlocks a world of musical overtones and harmonics-and even explains why a clarinet plays so much lower than its similar-sized cousin the flute. The brain recognizes harmonics and other musical patterns, the same way it recognizes numerical patterns. However, errors in its pattern recognition lead to auditory illusions, ways to trick the brain into hearing something that isn’t that. Finally, abstract algebra gives modern language to the structures beneath the surface of Bach's magnificent canons and fugues. Throughout the talk, mathematical concepts will come to life with musical examples played by the speaker, an amateur violinist.


Biographical Sketch:  

Dave Kung fell in love with both mathematics and music at a very early age.  More successful with one than the other, he completed three degrees from the University of Wisconsin - Madison, none in music, before joining the faculty at St. Mary's College of Maryland. He enjoys playing violin with students, in the local community orchestra, and with his daughter. He has authored a variety of articles on topics in harmonic analysis and mathematics education, and is the recipient of numerous awards including the 2006 Teaching Award and 2017 Service Award from the MD/VA/DC section of the MAA. His Great Courses lectures, How Music and Mathematics Relate, have quickly become a top Math & Science seller for the Teaching Company. He serves as director of MAA Project NExT, a professional development program for new faculty in the mathematical sciences.



There will be further announcements of this event.

For questions, please contact Dorette Pronk ( or Karl Dilcher (






Potter Auditorium, Rowe Building (Univ. Avenue)