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The size of infinity: Green Chair lecture

Green Chair Lecture for Students: The Size of Infinity

Speaker: Sommer Gentry (United States Naval Academy and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine)

Abstract: The stranger next to me on the airplane, on discovering that I was a math professor, demanded, “Tell me something really interesting about the number 1.” I’ll share it with you if you attend my talk, but my answer centered around the endlessly marvelous concept of infinity. As a student, I found ideas about infinite sets to be singularly inspiring, almost cosmic. Cantor’s beautiful diagonalization arguments established that the set of real numbers is larger than the set of integers, even though both sets are
infinite. Diagonalization even helps prove that there exist true statements that can’t be proved, and leads to bewildering paradoxes that shook the foundations of mathematics over the last century.


Sommer Gentry is Professor of Mathematics at the United States Naval Academy, and is also on the faculty of the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She is a senior investigator with the U.S. Scientific Registry for Transplant Recipients. She has a B.S. in Mathematical and Computational Science and an M.S. in Operations Research, both from Stanford University, and a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from MIT.

Professor Gentry builds operations research models to improve access to organ transplantation. She has ignited revolutionary changes in the distribution of organs for transplant, by showing that redistricting U.S. liver allocation areas would reduce geographic disparity in access to liver transplants and save hundreds of lives each year.  She also designed optimization methods to maximize the number of kidney transplants possible through kidney exchanges, and served as an advisor to the United States and Canada in their efforts to create national paired donation registries. Her work helped convince Congress to clarify the legal status of kidney paired donation in December 2007.

Her research is funded by the National Institutes of Health and her findings have been highlighted in major media outlets including Scientific American, Time Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Science, the Discovery Channel, and National Public Radio.  Gentry has also received the MAA’s Henry L. Alder award for distinguished teaching.

Monday, February 24 at 3:30 pm to 4:20 pm

Rees-Jones Hall, 112
2901 West Lowden Street, Fort Worth, TX 76109

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations

Target Audience

Students, Faculty & Staff


Academic, Science & Technology


Green Honors Chair Program

Mathematics, College of Science & Engineering
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