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Baruch College Examines the Influence of Ancient Mathematics on the Modern World

Plimpton 322: The Ancient Roots of Modern Mathematics to be released December 6

Plimpton 322New York, NY, December 6, 2011 - Laurence Kirby, Ph.D., mathematics professor at Baruch College, offers a distinctive look into the story of mathematics and its influence on the modern world, in Plimpton 322: The Ancient Roots of Modern Mathematics. The 33-minute film, produced by the Baruch Computing and Technology Center, is on release today and can be viewed online at:

With New York City as backdrop, Professor Kirby takes viewers on a tour of our mathematical debt to ancient cultures in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. We witness their ideas still playing crucial roles in our society and 21st-century technology. At the center of the film is a 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablet known as Plimpton 322, which was excavated in Iraq around 1920 and now has its home in New York. Plimpton 322 is designed to inspire students, especially minority students, to pursue mathematical studies, and will be ideal for classroom enrichment use in high schools and colleges as well as for the general public.

An expert in mathematical logic, Professor Kirby has taught mathematics at Baruch College since 1982.

He received a B.A. and M.A. from Cambridge University and a Ph.D. from Manchester University in 1977. After working in Paris and Princeton, he joined Baruch College as a professor.

In Plimpton 322, Kirby is joined by a cast of scholars who help uncover the richness of the tablet and its heritage. The featured scholars include: Eleanor Robson of Cambridge University an authority on ancient Mesopotamian mathematics; Yekaterina Barbash, assistant curator of Egyptian Art at the Brooklyn Museum; Alexander Jones, professor of the history of the Exact Sciences in Antiquity at New York University’s Institute for the Study of the Ancient World; Harry Bixler, an expert on ancient Islamic art and mathematics, who taught mathematics at Baruch College for 37 years; and Jennifer B. Lee, curator at Columbia University’s Rare Book and Manuscript Library, home of the Plimpton Collection of historical mathematical documents.




Manny Romero, Baruch College, 646-660-6112,

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