Mike Lawler is a mathematician who finished his PhD in math at Brandeis University in 1997 and took an assistant professor position at the University of Minnesota for two years, even though he had "sort of lost interest in math in graduate school." (He accepted the position expecting that he would be leaving academia pretty quickly, but because he had basically spent his whole life up to that point wanting to be a math professor, he figured that he would regret it if he did not at least give it a try.) Although he enjoyed the two years in Minnesota, he had really lost interest in academic math. He and his wife moved to Omaha (where he had grown up) in 1999 and by an amazing bit of luck he was hired into Berkshire Hathaway's reinsurance division in late 2000. He's worked there ever since.
I just became aware of a webpage that Mike writes, called "Mike's Webpage," which turned up when I was checking out the response to my book about Freese's geometric dissections. (The webpage goes back at least to November 2013 and contains videos of Mike sharing various aspects of math with his two sons.) Mike has posted videos of himself and his sons examining Freese's Plate 100, with Mike encouraging his sons to figure out the angles of the constituent polygons in that plate's nonagon. (See "Using Ernest Irving Freese's Geometric Transformations" with kids.) Their goal was to 3D-print a set of pieces that would realize Freese's dissection in that plate. The video shows them working through the steps to deduce all of the necessary details of that dissection. You can see how the project turned out in the subsequent video "Nonagon tiles". The interaction between Mike and his sons is an example of a type of activity that I like to encourage.
Great job, Mike and sons!
Copyright 2018, Greg N. Frederickson.
Permission is granted to any purchaser of Ernest Irving Freese's Geometric Transformations: the Man, the Manuscript, the Magnificent Dissections!
to print out a copy of this page for his or her own personal use.
Last updated May 18, 2018.