I know you’ve all been waiting for the announcement with bated breath! We’ve known for a while that Mike Miller’s Winter course would be a follow-on course to his Algebraic Number Theory course this Fall, but it’s been officially posted, so now you can register for it: Algebraic Number Theory: The Sequel.

I’m sure, as always, that there are a few who are interested, but who couldn’t make the Fall lectures. Never fear, there’s a group of us that can help you get up to speed to keep pace with us during the second quarter. Just drop us a note and we’ll see what we can do.

Algebraic Number Theory: The Sequel

In no field of mathematics is there such an irresistible fascination as in the theory of numbers. This course, the second in a two-quarter sequence, is an introductory, yet rigorous, survey of algebraic number theory, which evolved historically through attempts to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. Beginning with a quick review of the previous quarter’s work, the course continues discussions on the structure of algebraic number fields, focusing particular attention on primes, units, and roots of unity in quadratic, cubic, and cyclotomic fields. Topics to be discussed include: norms and traces; the ideal class group; Minkowski’s Translate, Convex Body, and Linear Forms theorems; and Dirichlet’s Unit Theorem.

UCLA: 5137 Math Sciences
Tuesday, 7-10pm,
January 5 – March 15
11 meetings total

MATH X450.9
3.00 units

Recommended Textbook

We’ll be using Introductory Algebraic Number Theory by Saban Alaca and Kenneth S. Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 978-0521183048).

A Japanese mathematician claims to have solved one of the most important problems in his field. The trouble is, hardly anyone can work out whether he's right.

The biggest mystery in mathematics

This article in Nature is just wonderful. Everyone will find it interesting, but those in the Algebraic Number Theory class this fall will be particularly interested in the topic – by the way, it’s not too late to join the class. After spending some time over the summer looking at Category Theory, I’m tempted to tackle Mochizuki’s proof as I’m intrigued at new methods in mathematical thinking (and explaining.)

The abc conjecture refers to numerical expressions of the type a + b = c. The statement, which comes in several slightly different versions, concerns the prime numbers that divide each of the quantities a, b and c. Every whole number, or integer, can be expressed in an essentially unique way as a product of prime numbers — those that cannot be further factored out into smaller whole numbers: for example, 15 = 3 × 5 or 84 = 2 × 2 × 3 × 7. In principle, the prime factors of a and b have no connection to those of their sum, c. But the abc conjecture links them together. It presumes, roughly, that if a lot of small primes divide a and b then only a few, large ones divide c.

Like a kid anxiously awaiting Christmas morning, I spent some time refreshing UCLA Extension’s web page over the weekend in hopes of seeing the announcement of Mike Miller’s Fall math course with no results.

I checked again a half hour ago and their site was down!

My salivating hit a fever pitch!

Refreshing, refreshing, refreshing… and now it’s live again with:

Register quickly before it fills up. And let the pool for the guesses about which textbook he’ll recommend begin!

Algebraic Number Theory

MATH X 450.8 | 3.00 units

In no field of mathematics is there such an irresistible fascination as in the theory of numbers. This course, the first in a two-quarter sequence, is an introductory, yet rigorous, survey of algebraic number theory, which evolved historically through attempts to prove Fermat’s Last Theorem. Beginning with a quick review of primality and unique factorization for ordinary integers, the course extends these notions to more exotic domains: quadratic, cubic, cyclotomic, and general number fields. This development is then applied to the representation of integers as sums of squares and, more generally, to classic Diophantine equations. Topics to be discussed include: Euclidean, principal ideal, and Noetherian domains; integral bases; binary quadratic forms; algebraic field extensions; and several remarkable theorems/conjectures of Ramanujan.

UCLA: 5137 Math Sciences
Tuesday, 7-10pm,
September 22 – December 8
11 meetings total (no mtg 11/17)

See you all in just a few weeks!

A Note For the Reticent

Exercise Your Brain

As many may know or have already heard, Dr. Mike Miller, a retired mathematician from RAND and long-time math professor at UCLA, has been offering incredibly inexpensive upper level undergraduate and graduate level math courses for 30+ years through UCLA Extension.

Whether you’re a professional mathematician, engineer, physicist, physician, or simply a hobbyist interested in mathematics you’ll be sure to get something interesting out of this course, not to mention the camaraderie of 20-30 other “regulars” with widely varying backgrounds (actors to surgeons and evolutionary theorists to engineers) who’ve been taking almost everything Mike has offered over the years. Once most new students have taken one class, they’re incredibly prone to want to take them all (and yes, he’s THAT good — we’re sure you’ll be addicted too.)

“Beginners” Welcome!

Even if it’s been years since you last took calculus or linear algebra, Mike (and usually the rest of the class) will help you get quickly back up to speed to delve into what is often a very deep subject. Though there are a handful who will want to learn the subject for specific applications, naturally, it’s simply a beautiful and elegant subject for those who just want to meander their way through higher mathematics for the fun of it (this will probably comprise the largest majority of the class by the way.)

Whether you’ve been away from serious math for decades or use it every day or even if you’ve never gone past calculus, this is bound to be the most entertaining thing you can do with your Tuesday nights in the fall. If you’re not sure what you’re getting into (or are scared a bit by the course description), I highly encourage to come and join us for at least the first class before you pass up on the opportunity – there’s no need to preregister or prepay if you’re unsure. I’ll mention that the greater majority of new students to Mike’s classes join the ever-growing group of regulars who take almost everything he teaches subsequently.

For the reticent, I’ll mention that one of the first courses I took from Mike was Algebraic Topology which generally requires a few semesters of Abstract Algebra and a semester of Topology as prerequisites. I’d taken neither of these prerequisites, but due to Mike’s excellent lecture style and desire to make everything comprehensible to the broadest number of students, I was able to do exceedingly well in the course. Also keep in mind that you can register to take the class for a grade, pass/fail, or even no grade at all to suit your needs/lifestyle.

Textbook: Introductory Algebraic Number Theory

Update (8/19/15) Per my email conversation with Dr. Miller, despite that neither the Extension website nor the bookstore have a book listed for the class yet, he’s going to be recommending Introductory Algebraic Number Theory by Saban Alaca and Kenneth S. Williams (Cambridge University Press, 2003, ISBN: 978-0521183048).