*Conversations
in Science
*

A program conceived and organized by the Wisconsin Initiative for Science Literacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, with the collaboration of the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Edgewood Sonderegger Science Center.

**The Number Theory of Partitions**

**Ken Ono**

Manasse Professor of Letters and Science, University of Wisconsin - Madison

**ABOUT THE CONVERSATION**

Therefore, there are 5 partitions of the number 4. But (as happens in Number
Theory) the seemingly simple business of counting the ways to break a number
into parts leads quickly to some difficult and beautiful problems. Partitions
play important roles in such diverse areas of mathematics such as combinatorics,
Lie Theory, Representation Theory, Mathematical Physics, and the theory of Special
Functions, but we shall concentrate on their role in Number Theory. We shall
give an account of the impact of Leonhard Euler, Freeman Dyson, and Srinivasa
Ramanujan on the subject, and describe some of the recent advances in the subject.

**ABOUT THE SPEAKER**

Ken Ono is the Solle P. and Margaret Manasse Professor of Letters and Science
at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. After receiving his PhD in 1993 from
UCLA, Ono held positions at the University of Illinois and the University of
Georgia. He was a member of the Institute for Advanced Study for two years before
moving to Penn State University, where he earned the title of Louis J. Martarano
Professor of Mathematics before moving to Wisconsin. Since 1994, Ono has authored
or co-authored 105 papers on Number Theory and related topics, and he has written
four books. He is an editor of eight professional journals. Ono has distinguished
himself by winning many of the most prestigious awards available to scientists
in this country. He has received the NSF CAREER award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research
Fellowship, the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers
from President Clinton, a David and Lucille Packard Research Fellowslhip, an
H.I. Romnes Fellowship, and a John S. Guggenheim Fellowship. Last year in a
ceremony at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington D.C., Ono was awarded
the National Science Foundation Director’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar
Award, the highest honor bestowed by the NSF for excellence in research and
education.