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Remembering Karl Menger 2017

Karl Menger

The Department of Applied Mathematics at IIT will host Persi Diaconis, Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics, Stanford University, as the 2017 Karl Menger Lecturer. He will speak on "The Search for Randomness" on April 24 at 6:00 p.m. The event is part of the tenth annual Karl Menger Lecture and Awards, April 24-25, Illinois Institute of Technology Mies (Main) Campus.

Made possible with the generous support of the Menger family; Department of Applied Mathematics, Illinois Institute of Technology; and the Menger Fund.


Visit or contact Lauren Shelby at 312.567.5030 or

Schedule of Events

Monday, April 24, 2017

Pre-lecture events will begin at 5:00 p.m. and will take place in the lobby, located in the Robert A. Pritzker Center building.

5:00 p.m. - Poster Session, North Hall, Robert A. Pritzker Science Center 
Viewing of student research posters. Light refreshments will be served.

6:00 p.m. - Lecture, Auditorium, Robert A. Pritzker Science Center 
"The Search for Randomness" delivered by Professor Persi Diaconis, Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statistics and Mathematics, Stanford University.

Diaconis will take a careful look at some of our most primitive images of random phenomena: tossing a coin, shuffling cards, and throwing a dart at the wall. Experiments and a bit of math show that while randomness is possible, usually things are not so random.

Applications of the use (and misuse) of stochastic models in all walks of life (health, finance, business) will be illustrated.

7:00 p.m. - Awards Presentation, Auditorium, Robert A. Pritzker Science Center
Presentation of IIT Karl Menger Student Awards for exceptional scholarship by a student and the Applied Mathematics poster competition winners.

7:15 p.m. - Reception, Lobby, Robert A. Pritzker Science Center

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Professor Diaconis will meet with students and faculty.

10:10 a.m. - Research Seminar, Siegel Hall Auditorium, Room 118
"Adding Numbers and Shuffling Cards" delivered by Professor Diaconis

Image credit: Rod Searcy

When numbers are added in the usual way, "carries" occur. These carries form a Markov chain with an "amazing" transition matrix. Strangely, this same matrix occurs in analyzing the usual method of shuffling cards and in the mathematical analysis of fractals. Diaconis will explain all of this in "mathematical English" for a non-scientist audience.

12:30 p.m. - Discussion, Siegel Hall Auditorium, Room 118  
"How to Be a Successful Applied Mathematician" with Professor Diaconis


Complimentary parking is available in the A4 Visitor’s Lot (entrance at 32nd and State streets). Contact Gladys Collins at 312.567.8980 or collinsg(at)iit(dot)edu for details.

Campus Map (including a Parking Map), Directions to IIT, and Transportation

Discounted Hotels for IIT visitors

Out-of-state travelers: for questions or hotel suggestions, please call 312.567.3132

About the Menger Lecturer

Professor Persi Diaconis is the Mary V. Sunseri Professor of Statisitics and Mathematics at Stanford University and former professional magician. He is particularly known for his often non-intuitive results on mathematical problems involving randomness. This includes showing how many riffle shuffles are needed to randomize a deck of playing cards. Professor Diaconis is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has received honorary doctorates from the University of Chicago and the University of St. Andrews, and has been awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, commonly known as the "Genius Grant".

About Menger

Karl Menger was a faculty member in the Department of Mathematics at IIT from 1946 to 1971, and influenced many students, fellow faculty members, and friends during his lifetime. Regarded as one of the finest mathematicians of the 20th century, he made significant contributions to the fields of dimension theory, probability, economics, ethics, geometry, and calculus.

Each year we invite an outside speaker to be the Karl Menger Lecturer. It is the centerpiece of two days of events for students, faculty, and alumni.

Further Reading

Previous Menger Lecturers