Public Seminar – Maths-As-It-Could-Be: The life and philosophy of Japanese mathematician Kiyoshi Oka


Kiyoshi Oka (1901-1978) was one of the greatest Japanese mathematicians of the 20th century. His contribution to mathematics was such that Carl Siegel mistakenly believed ‘Oka’ to be the name of a group of mathematicians. In Japan, Oka is known not only for his tremendous contribution to maths, but also as a great thinker and philosopher. His thoughts were shaped through the prisms of the Japanese language and culture and he was greatly influenced by traditional Zen Buddhist philosophy (in particular, that of Dōgen) and Japanese literature such as Matsuo Bashō and Natsume Soseki.

In this public seminar, independent scholar Masao Morita, will introduce Oka’s unique philosophy of mathematics and the Japanese traditional thoughts underlying his ideas. He will also shed light on Oka’s life and thinking as a mathematician while examining how Oka pursued a “maths as it could be”. Joining Morita in discussion will be Professor Tadashi Tokieda from the University of Cambridge.

Date: 17 October 2014 from 6.30pm
Venue: The Japan Foundation, London

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