Lecture Series Honors UA Doctoral Student, Study of Math

The first Daniel Bartlett Memorial Lecture will be held this month in honor of Bartlett, who died suddenly in 2006.
March 20, 2008
Extra Info: 

Daniel Wezelman Bartlett was born Nov. 8, 1980, with physical impairments. He graduated from Tucson’s University High School and was named a U.S. Presidential Scholar. The U.S. Department of Education gives the honor to two high school students per state each year. 


Bartlett, who studied math and also played the piano and trumpet, completed his undergraduate degree at Harvard University in 2003. He died of sudden cardiac arrest on Aug. 8, 2006, just before beginning his fourth year of graduate studies in mathematics at the UA.

To contribute to the fund established in his name, checks should be made out to “UA Foundation,” with “Daniel Bartlett Memorial Fund” on the memo line. Checks may be sent to the UA’s mathematics department at 617 N. Santa Rita Ave., Tucson, AZ 85721.

Daniel Bartlett Memorial Lecture: "The Unity of Mathematics"
March 25, 7 p.m.
Student Union Memorial Center, Gallagher Theater
Daniel Wezelman Bartlett
Daniel Wezelman Bartlett
Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University
Barry Mazur, Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University

One of the world’s leading mathematicians is giving the inaugural talk in a lecture series established in memory of  Daniel Wezelman Bartlett, a University of Arizona doctoral  student in the mathematics program, who died unexpectedly in 2006.

Barry Mazur, the Gerhard Gade University Professor at Harvard University, is the first Daniel Bartlett Memorial Lecture speaker. His March 25 talk, "The Unity of Mathmatics," will be held at 7 p.m. in the Student Union Memorial Center's Gallagher Theater.

The lecture series was created and endowed with a contribution from Bartlett’s family and friends, said Bob Logan, senior director of development for the UA’s College of Science.

The series aims to foster awareness and appreciation of mathematics of the highest level.

Mazur, who was Bartlett’s undergraduate adviser at Harvard University, has made major contributions to areas in mathematics such as number theory, topology and algebraic geometry, among other areas.

He has received many honors and prizes for his work, including the Mathematical Association of America’s Chauvenet Prize for exposition and the American Mathematical Society Cole Prize for work in number theory.

Mazur was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1982 and, in 2001, to the American Philosophical Society.

UA mathematics professor Doug Ulmer said the subject of Mazur’s talk is relevant because its influence is so expansive.

“Mathematics is pervasive in modern life. Many, many contemporary problems require sophisticated mathematics,” he said.

As an example, Ulmer said shipping companies using fleets of trucks to deliver goods must develop and organize complex systems that are both reliable and swift.

The same goes for scientists who are trying to make sense of data that has been generated by sequencing the human genome and also by those who are attempting to protect personal and sensitive information constantly being transmitted via the Internet and telephone conversations, among other mediums.

“Math has become a vast enterprise, which is hard to take in as a whole. Nevertheless, a recurring theme is that simple but deep ideas resurface time after time and are reworked for contemporary purposes,” Ulmer said.

"Ideas that seem very 'pure' at one point in time turn out to be crucial for later applications, and questions that at first appear completely down to earth can lead to fundamental unifying insights," Ulmer added.

Mazur is expected to speak also about Jakob Bernoulli, a late 17th century and early 18th century Swiss mathematician.

Bernoulli’s work, “Ars Conjectandi,” or “The Art of Conjecture,” emphasized probability and the importance of counting, which has “developed into quite sophisticated mathematics which is very much relevant today,” Ulmer said.

“He will also, I hope, give us a glimpse of some of the beauty and power,” he said, “that attracted a remarkable intellect such as Daniel Bartlett to mathematics.”

Bartlett, he said, had a promising career.

"My experience is that the people who really succeed in a tough field like mathematics have to have a lot of talent, but also a huge amount of determination," Ulmer said. "Being smart by itself isn't enough because no matter how smart you are you will run up against problems that will take long, hard effort to overcome. "

Ulmer said Bartlett was both intelligent and tenacious.

"I think there are a lot of people in Tucson who knew and admired Daniel," he said. "The generosity of his friends and family has been striking. He would have been a star and in some measure this fund and the events it sponsors are a way of marking the career that was cut short by his death."