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Jordan Ellenberg | New York Times bestselling author of Shape and How Not to Be Wrong
Lavin Exclusive Speaker

How can you stop a pandemic from sweeping the world? Can ancient Greek proportions predict the stock market? And why is learning to play chess so much easier for computers than learning to read a sentence? New York Times bestselling author of How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg returns with an exciting new book asking the big questions. Much like its predecessor, Shape shows us how math touches everything we do—this time, zeroing in on the geometry behind the world’s most important scientific, political, and philosophical problems. Much like how Freakonomics brought economics into popular discourse, Ellenberg’s work uses math to unveil the hidden beauty and logic of the world around us—putting its power directly into our hands, in business and in life.

“Like Lewis Carroll, George Gamow, and Martin Gardner before him, Jordan Ellenberg shows how mathematics can delight and stimulate the mind. But he also shows that mathematical thinking should be in the toolkit of every thoughtful person—of everyone who wants to avoid fallacies, superstitions, and other ways of being wrong.”

— Steven Pinker

Math, as Jordan Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” Math helps every kind of thinker think better—it hones our intuition, sharpens our judgment, tames uncertainty, and lets us see the deeper structure and logic of our world.
The Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Ellenberg is the author of several books. His most recent, Shape: The Hidden Geometry of Information, Biology, Strategy, Democracy and Everything Else, combines his trademark intellectual curiosity and jargon-free language to transform a long-forgotten subject from our high school days into a powerful tool for measuring the world around us. His previous books include How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking—a beautifully written and refreshingly lucid mathematic exploration praised by the New York Times and Washington Post—and The Grasshopper King. Recently, he served as a consultant (and actor, briefly!) for the film Gifted, directed by Marc Webb, who cast Ellenberg for the role because, in his words: “he’s just a really charismatic teacher.”


Ellenberg has held an NSF-CAREER grant and an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, and in 2013 he was named one of the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, Wired, The Believer, and the Boston Globe, and he is the author of the “Do the Math” column in Slate. His Wired feature story on compressed sensing appeared in the Best Writing on Mathematics 2011 anthology.    


“Jordan Ellenberg was great, funny, warm on stage, and he was very well received. Our clients and colleagues were all very happy with him and his presentation. Hoping to do this again with him very soon. Thanks for all your help in making this booking happen.”

Drury Entertainment Group

Speech Topics

How Not to Be Wrong The Power of Mathematical Thinking

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In this talk, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how wrong this view is: Math touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. It’s a science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument. Drawing from history as well as the latest theoretical developments, Ellenberg demonstrates that profound mathematical ideas are present whenever we reason, from the commonplace to the cosmic. And, he shows how to use this knowledge in our lives, whether you’re a business looking to discover the power of big data, a corporate audience out to improve logic and understanding within your organization, or a college crowd with an appetite for the latest research by one of America’s rising scholarly stars.