3/25 – Michael Boratko, “”The Brachistochrone Problem”

This week we will meet on Wednesday, 3/25, from 5-6pm in LGRT 1528. Note the room change!

Michael Boratko will speak on, “The Brachistochrone Problem” (abstract below).

Pizza and Soda will be provided as usual!

The Brachistochrone Problem is a beautiful example of a simply stated question which requires an advancement of theoretical techniques. Given two points, what is the path that a bead (falling without friction and under the influence of gravity) will trace out if it is to go from one point to the other in the least amount of time? You might think the answer is a straight line, but we will see that this is, in fact, not the case. This question was one of the first problems in what became known as the Calculus of Variations, and we will solve it and discuss some of the interesting history which lead up to the notion of “taking the derivative with respect to a function”.