Colm Mulcahy
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Colm Mulcahy

Colm Mulcahy (born September 1958) is an Irish mathematician, academic, columnist, book author, public outreach speaker, and amateur magician. He is Professor Emeritus at Spelman College, where he was on the faculty from 1988 to 2020.[1] In addition to algebra, number theory, and geometry, his interests include mathemagical card magic and the culture of mathematics-particularly the contributions of Irish mathematicians and also the works of iconic mathematics writer Martin Gardner. He has blogged for the Mathematical Association of America, The Huffington Post, Scientific American, and (aperiodically) for The Aperiodical;[2] his puzzles have been featured in The New York Times.[3][4] Mulcahy serves on the Advisory Council of the Museum of Mathematics in New York City.[5] As of January 2021, he is Chair of Gathering 4 Gardner, Inc.[6] He is the creator and curator of the Annals of Irish Mathematics and Mathematicians.[7]

Education and career

Mulcahy got his BSc and MSc in mathematical science at University College Dublin in 1978 and 1979, and a PhD from Cornell University in 1985 where his advisor was Alex F. T. W. Rosenberg.[8] From 1988 to 2020, he taught mathematics at Spelman College, in Atlanta, Georgia, and is now Professor Emeritus. He served as chair of the department there from 2003 to 2006 and recently created the Archive of Spelman Mathematicians.[9] In 1997 he received the MAA's Allendoerfer Award for excellence in expository writing for a paper on the basics of wavelet image compression.[8] In 2014 he was one of the organizers of Mathematics Awareness Month.[1] An article he co-authored, on the centennial of Martin Gardner, was featured in the book, The Best Writing on Mathematics 2015.[10]

Mulcahy has an Erdös number is 2 as a result of a collaboration with Neil Calkin.[11]

Card magic

Mulcahy is recognised as an authority on the mathematical principles and effects underlying cards tricks.[12] From 2004 to 2014 he authored Card Colm, a column about mathematics and magic-especially card magic-for the Mathematical Association of America.[13] Much of this work is collected in his book Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects [14] He has appeared in Brady Haran's Numberphile web series.[15]

Legacy of Martin Gardner

Mulcahy was a friend of longtime Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner during the last decade of Gardner's life. Mulcahy is a mainstay of Gathering for Gardner (Vice-President 2016-2020, Chair 2021-present), an organisation formed to honour the wide-ranging contributions made by the celebrated mathematician, skeptic, magician, philosopher, and writer. Usually shortened to G4G, it first met in 1993 and since 1996 meets every two years.[16] In 2013 he created the official Martin Gardner site, and in 2013-2014 he chaired the Martin Gardner Centennial Committee.[17] Mulcahy has been particularly active in promoting an associated series of meetings known as Celebration of Mind, also inspired by the works of Gardner.[12] These days there are over 100 of these latter events every year, all around the world.[18][19]

Irish mathematicians and mathematics

Mulcahy frequently writes about the culture and history of mathematics in Ireland.[20] He is active in both Maths Week Ireland, the world's largest mathematics outreach program, and the Irish Mathematical Society.[21] He is the creator and curator of the Annals of Irish Mathematics and Mathematicians, which chronicles four centuries of mathematical activity in Ireland, and has hosted monthly blogs since September 2016.[22] This is now sponsored by Maths Week Ireland, which has produced annual Irish Mathematics Calendars since 2016.[23]


Mulcahy is married to Vicki Powers,[24] an algebraic geometer and election theorist. They had the same doctoral advisor at Cornell, Alex F. T. W. Rosenberg.[25]


  1. ^ a b Mathematics Awareness Month 2014: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery Committee Members
  2. ^ The Aperiodical
  3. ^ Celebrations of Mind Honor Math's Best Friend, Martin Gardner by Colm Mulcahy, Scientific American, 29 October 2013
  4. ^ 11 Stories By Colm Mulcahy In Scientific American
  5. ^ Museum of Mathematics: Advisory Council
  6. ^ Gathering 4 Gardner: Board of Directors
  7. ^ Annals of Irish Mathematics & Mathematicians: Origin
  8. ^ a b Carl B. Allendoerfer award: Plotting and Scheming with Wavelets by Colm Mulcahy
  9. ^ Spelman College January 2016
  10. ^ The Best Writing on Mathematics 2015 Edited by Mircea Pitici, Princeton University Press, 2015, ISBN 0691169659
  11. ^ Coauthors of Paul Erdos, see Neil Calkin Gallia Est Omnis Divisa in Partes Quattuor by Neil Calkin and Colm Mulcahy, in The mathematics of various entertaining subjects: research in recreational math, edited by Jennifer Elaine Beineke and Jason Rosenhouse, Princeton University Press, [2016] ISBN 0691164037
  12. ^ a b Celebration of Mind with Colm Mulcahy
  13. ^ MAA Columns: Card Colm by Colm Mulcahy Mathematical Association of America
  14. ^ Mathematical Card Magic: Fifty-Two New Effects A K Peters/CRC Press (2013) ISBN 1466509767
  15. ^ Little Fibs - Numberphile 'Mathemagician' Colm Mulcahy, 2 June 2016
  16. ^ Tom Rodgers, Organizer of Gathering for Gardner and Celebration of Mind, Dies at 67
  17. ^ official Martin Gardner site
  18. ^ Who wants to host a Celebration of Mind? There's still time by Colm Mulcahy, 19 October 2012
  19. ^ Food for Thought: Savory Treats for the Mind From the Julia Child of Mathematics and Rationality by Colm Mulcahy, HuffPost, 10 December 2012
  20. ^ Mathematical (and Poetic) Offerings From the Land of Saints and Scholars by Colm Mulcahy, HuffPost, 23 May 2015
  21. ^ Ahlstrom, Dick (11 October 2015). "More than 250,000 people to take part in Maths Week". The Irish Times. Retrieved 2018.
  22. ^ Blog Contents Mathematics Ireland
  23. ^ Irish Maths Calendar Mathematics Ireland
  24. ^ See the dedication to Mulcahy, Colm (14 February 2013), "In My Heart of Hearts: Valentine's Day Special", Huffington Post
  25. ^ Victoria Ann Powers at the Mathematics Genealogy Project

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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