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Robin Wilson
Prof of Mathematics, Open University
Prof of Geometry, Gresham College

Abstract: Four Colours Suffice
How many colours are needed to colour a map so that neighbouring regions are coloured differently?

It seems as though the number ought to increase as the map becomes increasingly more complicated, but surprisingly this is not the case.

This illustrated talk presents the 124-year history of this fascinating problem, from its origin in 1852 to its eventual computer-aided solution -- a solution that raised various philosophical issues about the nature of mathematical proof.

Robin Wilson is Professor of Pure Mathematics at the Open University, UK, a Fellow in Mathematics at Keble College, Oxford University and Gresham Professor of Geometry, London (the oldest mathematical Chair in England).

He has written and edited over thirty books, mainly on graph theory and the history of mathematics. His historical interests focus mainly on British mathematics, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries and on the history of graph theory and combinatorics.

He is very involved with the communication and popularisation of mathematics, having produced books on mathematics and music, mathematical philately and sudoku & also on the Gilbert & Sullivan operas. His book ‘Four Colours Suffice’ (Penguin, 2002) was a best seller.

He also gives about forty public lectures per year.





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