Mathematician Sarah Hart on Why Numbers are Music to Our Ears (People I (Mostly) Admire, Ep. 49)

October 29, 2021 @ 11:00pm


Playing notes on her piano, she demonstrates for Steve why whole numbers sound pleasing, why octaves are mathematically imperfect, and how math underlies musical composition. Sarah, a professor at the University of London and Gresham College, also talks with Steve about the gender gap in mathematics and why being interested in everything can be a problem.

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Here’s where you can learn more about the people and ideas in this episode:


Sarah Hart, professor of mathematics at the University of London and professor of geometry at Gresham College.


“Online Lecture: The Mathematics of Musical Composition,” by Sarah Hart (Gresham College, 2020).
“An Empirical Analysis of the Gender Gap in Mathematics,” by Roland G. Fryer and Steven D. Levitt (NBER Working Papers, 2009).
“Exploring the Impact of Financial Incentives on Stereotype Threat: Evidence from a Pilot Study,” by Roland G. Fryer, Steven D. Levitt, and John A. List (American Economic Review, 2008).
“Commuting Involution Graphs for Sporadic Simple Groups,” by C. Bates, David Bundy, Sarah B. Hart, and P.J. Rowley (Journal of Algebra, 2007).

Tags: Morgan Levey, Sarah Hart, Steve Levitt

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