Why This Thrice Homeless Man Has A Mathematical Theorem Named After Him | KNKX

Why This Thrice Homeless Man Has A Mathematical Theorem Named After Him

Sep 8, 2018

 


Wes Browning has held an impressive array of jobs at Real Change, the newspaper distributed mainly by homeless vendors: He’s been a columnist, an artist, circulation specialist, public speaker, and so on.

He’s also been homeless three times and struggled with his mental health, so he understands the paper’s vendors better than most.

But go back in time in Browning’s resume, and you find an even wider range of jobs: taxi driver, teacher, theoretical mathematician.

Browning earned his Ph.D. in math at Cornell University in 1979, where he studied “Homotopy Types of Certain Finite CW-complexes with Finite Fundamental Group.” It’s a type of geometry … kind of.

Browning told Sound Effect Host Gabriel Spitzer how he traveled his particular winding road from mathematics to the streets and a bunch of other places, before returning, gray-haired and wizened, to mathematics once more.