- #1

- 22

- 0

I'm a first year Ph.D student in mathematics and I've been asked to give an hour long talk for the university maths society. Speakers have the choice to talk about just about anything maths related, however the focus of most talks is usually the discussion of a classic maths problem (like Bachet's weighing problem, for example) or the speaker will give an introduction to the area they study (or another area they have become interested in), or they may possibly discuss a recent result in their own research.

I could give an introductory talk about the area I study (Vertex Operator Algebras), however, the basic definitions and axioms are quite long and involved, and the simplest non-trivial example also has quite a long construction. I'm not sure I could get through the basic terminology, definitions and an example in the hour and do so at a pace where the audience has time to digest and absorb the concepts. Also, the subject involves a lot of formal series, and I think some might lose interest just at the sight of them.

I think a discussion of a classic problem might make for an overall more enjoyable talk, but I'm at a loss for ideas. Ideally, I'd like to discuss something where the basic question is very easy to understand, the maths gets more involved and I have time to discuss the attempts to date if it's an open problem, or to outline the resolution if it has been solved.