Simplicity Conference

→ go to the Conference Website

Simplicity: Ideals of Practice in Mathematics & the Arts

A conference at the Graduate Center, City University of New York, April 3–5, 2013

Lectures by and conversations among twenty-five mathematicians, artists, art historians, philosophers, and architects, accompanied by a program of artist’s films.

To find “criteria of simplicity” was the goal of David Hilbert’s recently discovered twenty-fourth problem on his renowned list of open problems given at the 1900 International Congress of Mathematics in Paris. At the same time, simplicity and economy of means are powerful impulses in the creation of artworks.

Recognizing the aesthetic nature of Hilbert’s question, this conference aims to focus on criteria of simplicity in mathematics that are informed by perspectives from art and architecture, the philosophy and history of mathematics, and current mathematical practice. Each day of this conference will feature talks and roundtable discussions interspersed by screenings of films by artists.

Invited participants:

Andrew Arana, Philosophy, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Rachael DeLue, Art & Archaeology, Princeton University
Juliet Floyd, Philosophy, Boston University
Curtis Franks, Philosophy, University of Notre Dame
Étienne Ghys, Mathematics, École Normale Supérieure, Lyon
Mikhael Gromov, Mathematics, IHES, Paris and New York University
Rosalie Iemhoff, Philosophy, Utrecht University
Hanna Johansson, Philosophy, History, Culture & Art Studies, University of Helsinki
Maryanthe Malliaris, Mathematics, University of Chicago
Dusa McDuff, Mathematics, Barnard College, Columbia University
Juhani Pallasmaa, Juhani Pallasmaa Architects, Helsinki
David Reinfurt, designer, New York
Marja Sakari, Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art, Helsinki
Amy Sandback, art historian, New York
Grigor Sargsyan, Mathematics, Rutgers University
Peter Sarnak, Mathematics, Institute for Advanced Study & Princeton University
Kate Shepherd, artist, New York
Riikka Stewen, Finnish Academy of Fine Arts, Helsinki
Dennis Sullivan, Mathematics, Graduate Center, CUNY & SUNY at Stony Brook
Andrés Villaveces, Mathematics, National University of Colombia, Bogotá
Dan Walsh, artist, New York
Stephen Wolfram, Wolfram Research, Concord, MA
Hugh Woodin, Mathematics, University of California, Berkeley
Andrea Worm, Art History, University of Augsburg
Jan Zwicky, Philosophy, University of Victoria

Film program:

Andy Goldsworthy (NY Premiere)
David Hammons
Richard Serra
Andy Warhol
William Wegman


Juliette Kennedy, Mathematics, University of Helsinki
Roman Kossak, Mathematics, Graduate Center and Bronx Community College, CUNY
Philip Ording, Mathematics, Medgar Evers College, CUNY

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