This article appeared in the Fall 2017-Spring 2018 Bryn Mawr Math Alumnae Newsletter.
Last year’s edition of this newsletter included an article written by Visiting Professor of Mathematics and Research Associate Bill Dunham in which he examined the relationship between Bryn Mawr College and the eminent British philosopher Bertrand Russell. Bill discovered this relationship while browsing old math books in Collier Science Library.
This year Collier yielded another treasure. While “grazing” the collected works of August Ferdinand Möbius, Bill found a connection with something he had read in Euler’s 1748 masterpiece Introductio in analysin infinitorum, and “Voila!” an article was born.
It eventually appeared in Mathematics Magazine with the title “The Early (and Peculiar) History of the Möbius Function.”
“Spoiler alert: it’s not what you think,” says Bill.