Williams Mathematician Burger Wins National Distinguished Teaching Award

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., Jan. 12, 2001 — The Mathematical Association of America has awarded Edward Burger, associate professor of mathematics at Williams College, the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. The award was made at the MAA’s annual meeting in New Orleans, La., Jan. 10-13.

Burger is the youngest recipient of this honor to date and follows two Williams professors in receiving the award: Colin Adams (1998) and Frank Morgan (1993).

In 1991 the Mathematical Association of America instituted the Haimo Award to honor college or university teachers who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful and whose teaching effectiveness has been shown to have had influence beyond their own institutions.

Burger works not only to bring advanced mathematical issues to life, but also to create mathematical interest in the math “phobic.” He reminds students that math “allows us to see every aspect of our world in a clearer, more focused manner.” By encouraging students to freely make mistakes, learn from their failure, and make abstract ideas at hand their own, Burger draws math fans and phoebes alike to his classes, which range from The Art of Mathematical Thinking: An Introduction to the Beauty and Power of Mathematical Ideas to an advanced tutorial on Diophantine Analysis.

Burger’s research is in number theory, specifically diophantine approximation and geometry of numbers. He has written over 25 articles in research publications and lectured at nearly 200 universities and mathematical conferences around the world. He is the author of several books including a series of interactive CD-ROM “virtual video interactive textbooks” and more traditional texts including “The Number Jungle: A Journey into Diophantine Analysis” and co-author of “The Heart of Mathematics: An Invitation to Effective Thinking.”

Outside of Williams, Burger has brought the excitement of mathematics to learners of all ages: he co-hosted MathBlast! 2000 for regional high school students and has given countless presentations at elementary schools on topics such as infinity, the 4th dimension, and magic with mathematics. Burger has also offered courses for senior citizens in the Berkshire Institute for Lifetime Learning and Elderhostel Programs. He has made numerous appearances on NBC-TV and NPR, and this summer will be starring in a pilot for a mathematics variety television program.

He received his B.A. from Connecticut College in 1985 and his Ph.D. from The University of Texas at Austin in 1990. He did his postdoctoral work at the University of Waterloo in Canada. He was the 1998 Stanislaw Ulam Visiting Professor of Mathematics at the University of Colorado, and was recently named the 2001 Genevieve W. Gore Distinguished Resident at Westminster College in Utah.