On Math, Origami, and How No Discipline is an Island—Clare Kim, MIT

formulas written on a lightboard

Clare Kim is a doctoral candidate in the Program in History, Anthropology, and Science, Technology, and Society at MIT. She spent the 2018–19 academic year in residence at the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study as a graduate student fellow and, when she and host Ted Fox talked, was nearing completion of her dissertation.

Clare’s work traces the trajectory of mathematical thinking—and just as importantly, our mainstream thinking about mathematics—in the United States over the last 100-plus years. Although her dissertation is structured chronologically, she refers to her research as a cultural analysis and history, one that uncovers a surprising degree of back and forth between math, as a discipline, and more humanistic pursuits, something that continues to this day. While she’s at it, she also tells a pretty good story about a lawsuit involving origami.