No Strangers at This Party: A Celebration of Ramsey Theory Through Podcasting

September 07, 2022
Graphic courtesy of Manan Sood

What happens when you bring together 10 undergraduate students, Ramsey Theory, a podcast, and a little creativity?

The answer is the “Ramsey Theory Podcast: No Strangers At This Party”, which was launched last fall by a group of students and their instructor Dr. Veselin Jungić.

The students produced this podcast as their term project for Math 301, a special topics course offered by the SFU Department of Mathematics.

The podcast’s title comes from the popular theorem on friends and strangers in Ramsey Theory. It also embodies the podcast’s goal of tapping into the knowledge and personal stories of contemporary Ramsey theorists.

“Listeners will be treated to a deeper understanding of these brilliant, personable, and down-to-earth people we call mathematicians,” the Math 301 students say. “We hoped to get to know [our guests] on a more personal level to show … how approachable mathematics can be.”

“In the end, we hope that when it comes to Mathematics, there will be ‘No Strangers at this Party.’”

Each episode features a conversation with a Ramsey theorist about around their personal and professional experiences. Guests have included Dr. Fan Chung Graham of UC San Diego and Dr.  Jaroslav Nešetřil of Charles University in Prague.

For the Math 301 students, the podcast has opened new perspectives and connections in the field of Ramsey Theory. They cite the keen participation of their guests as highlight of this project.

“During the conversation [our guests] would often ‘take the reigns’ so to speak and share more in depth than we expected,” the Math 301 students say. “Their enthusiasm and willingness to share was incredible to see and more than we could have asked for.”

The podcast has attracted listeners from Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America. This kind of interest is a testament to the podcast’s appeal to the wider mathematics community.

“Personally, coordinating this project made me even more proud of my students and our Ramsey Theory community,” says Dr. Jungić, who supervised the production of this podcast.  

“[One] of the outcomes of the project is that it provides another example that the love for mathematics has the power to unite us across continents, nationalities, ages, genders, and ranks.”

All 14 podcast episodes are available on Spotify, Anchor, Apple Podcasts, and Google Podcasts. Visit the Ramsey Theory Outreach page to learn more about the podcast and the field of Ramsey Theory.