Plenary Conference PHSS 2019 — From Felix Klein’s ‘Erlangen Program’ to Dan Barbilian’s ‘Secondary Game’: The Philological Side


Keynote speaker: Prof. Bogdan Suceavă

California State University, Fullerton, USA

Time and location: Saturday, 18 May 2019, 11.00-12.30
Faculty of Letters, III.11 Room, Building A, “Alexandru Ioan Cuza” University of Iași

Language: Romanian

In 1872, the 23-year old Felix Klein published an important work, known today as the Erlangen Program, with lasting impact on the development of modern mathematics. Pursuing the Erlangen’s Program philosophy, a doctoral student of Gaston Darboux, Gheorghe Țițeica, introduced the first concepts of affine differential geometry in a series of papers published in 1907-1908. Furthermore, while running the ‘Mathematical Gazette’s problem solving competition, Țițeica discovered Dan Barbilian, a young brilliant and original mathematician who later had many substantive contributions in algebraic geometry and metric geometry. In poetry, Barbilian is remembered for his volume titled ‘Secondary Game’. In an essay wrote a decade after the ‘Secondary Game”s publication, Barbilian wrote: “I personally consider myself a representative of the Erlangen Program, that movement of ideas that, from the standpoint of its consequences and the overturn of viewpoints, can be compared with the Discourse on the Method or with the Reform itself. Instead of the narrow specialization or the opaque technicality, which preceded the Erlangen Program, it brought an illuminated eclecticism. It pursues the depth of each theory, without missing from sight the homogeneity and unity of the whole.” Starting our inquiry from this standpoint, we investigate the existence of the common roots of ‘Secondary Game”s poetics and the philosophy of the Erlangen Program. Our conclusion is that the Erlangen Program yielded in the field of Romanian letters a totally unexpected outcome: an aesthetic vision.

Bogdan SUCEAVA (b. 1969) has a degree in mathematics (1994) and a M.Sc in geometry (1995) from the University of Bucharest, and a doctorate in mathematics from Michigan State University, East Lansing (2002). He is now a full professor of mathematics at California State University, Fullerton, where he taught since 2002. He has written articles on mathematics and the history of mathematics, some of which appeared in Historia Mathematica, the Notices of the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Intelligencer, among many others; two of historical essays are included in the Best Writings on Mathematics anthologies (2016, 2018) published by the Princeton University Press.  He is also the author of 17 literary volumes, including Miruna: A Tale (Curtea Veche, 2007; Polirom 2016), The Night When Somebody Died for You (Polirom, 2010), Coming from an Off key Time (Polirom, 2004; 2nd edition, 2010; 3rd edition, 2014), Avalon. Secrets of Happy Emigrants (Polirom, 2018).


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