Canines, calculus topic of Nov. 13 lecture

November 7, 2012 | Events, UToday, Natural Sciences and Mathematics
By Vicki L. Kroll


Dr. Tim Pennings will bring his Welsh corgi, Elvis, to discuss “Do Dogs Know Calculus?” Tuesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House Room 2100.

The mathematician started to ponder that question whenever he would play catch with his dog since a typical calculus problem involves finding the optimal path from one place to another while traversing two different mediums involving variable speeds.

“A standard calculus problem is to find the quickest path from a point on shore to a point in the lake, given that running speed is greater than swimming speed,” Pennings said. “Elvis has never had a calculus course. But when we play fetch at Lake Michigan, he appears to choose paths close to the calculus answer.”

Pennings will reveal what was found when Elvis’ ability was put to the test.

Dr. Tim Pennings and his dog, Elvis

And Elvis will be on hand to field follow-up questions — and a few tennis balls.

You may be able to catch a sneak peek of Elvis on “Nova Science Now” on PBS Wednesday, Nov. 7, at 10 p.m. Pennings said he was told the calculating canine will be featured on that date. Elvis has appeared on the BBC, NPR and FOX.

The free, public talk is sponsored by the UT College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, the UT Mathematics and Statistics Department, Monroe County Community College, and the Pi Mu Epsilon National Mathematics Honor Society, the Ohio Gamma Chapter, which will hold its annual induction ceremony at the start of the event.

“Anyone who is interested in math is welcome to attend,” said Dr. Ivie Stein Jr., UT associate professor of mathematics. “It will be a fun and interesting evening.”

For more information on the talk, contact Stein at or 419.530.2994.

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