Competition is in the air amongst math majors, and this time it has nothing to do with grades.
On Saturday evening, March 23, students from the Math and Stats Departments will get together to participate in a friendly but competitive basketball tournament. Playing off of the natural rivalry that exists between the two majors, students will have the opportunity to pull together and work to claim the title of the “winning major”.
The tournament will be held from 5-7pm in rooms 140 and 156 of the Richards Building (RB) on BYU Campus. All are welcome to come and watch, so bring your friends! Refreshments will be provided and, of course, prizes for the winning team.
If interested in participating in the tournament, please contact the following:
Math Majors: Email Travis at firstname.lastname@example.org
Stats Majors: Email Colin at email@example.com
The annual Pi Day event, sponsored by the Mathematics Department, is right around the corner! Held every year on March 14th from 12:00 pm – 1:59 pm, activities and games will take place on Brigham Square (in case of inclement weather, the event will be moved to the Terrace Court in the Wilkinson Center). The Math Department’s Student Advisory Council, along with the Mathematics Education Association, and Qualtrics, have partnered together to produce this year’s fun occasion celebrating the digits of Pi.
Popular activities such as Pie the Professor, Buffon’s Needle, and Pi Recitation will take place, as well as many new events like Pi Hoops, the Human Orbitron, Pi Count, Pi Face Painting, and Pi Story have been added to this year’s festivities. Many prizes and lots of food will be served at the 14 different events and activities. As usual, the traditional Pi Countdown will commence at 1:58 pm, thus completing the beginning Pi sequence of 3.14159 when the clock hits 1:59 pm.
Every year, a new and exciting Pi Day t-shirt is created, and this year’s design reflects the entertaining and whimsical fun that takes place on this “irrational” day. This year’s Pi-Day t-shirts will be sold in the foyer of the Talmage Building, during the week of Pi Day, and in the Math Department Office (275 TMCB) for $5. For more information, please contact Morgan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Think the Integration Bee sounds cool but not sure what it is?
The Integration Bee is similar to a spelling bee, but instead of spelling words, you solve integrals. This is a great opportunity for math-lovers to earn some extra cash and have some fun along the way.
Prizes will be awarded as follows:
1st Place: $100 BYU Bookstore gift card
2nd Place: $75 BYU Bookstore gift card
3rd Place: $50 BYU Bookstore gift card
4th Place: $25 BYU Bookstore gift card
T-shirts will also be awarded for the top 20 students, and refreshments will be served. The Bee takes place this Friday, March 8, in 297 TMCB at 3pm. Sign-up by Wednesday evening by sending your name to email@example.com.
Faculty in the Math Department continue to bring in awards and honors for Brigham Young University. 2012 proved to be an especially successful year.
Two of the department’s professors were inaugurated as Fellows of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) in November. Jim Cannon and Michael Dorff were among only 3.5% of the 30,000 AMS members to be honored. The AMS Fellows program recognizes members who have made outstanding contributions to the creation, exposition, advancement, communication and utilization of mathematics.
“The AMS is the world’s largest and most influential society dedicated to mathematical research, scholarship and education,” said AMS President Eric M. Friedlander. “The new AMS Fellows Program recognizes some of the most accomplished mathematicians — AMS members who have contributed to our understanding of deep and important mathematical questions, to applications throughout the scientific world and to educational excellence.”
In addition to being inaugurated as an AMS Fellow, Michael Dorff will be the recipient of BYU’s Lawrence K. Egbert Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellowship award at next year’s Annual University Conference. Dr. Dorff was nominated and selected as the recipient due to his extensive involvement in mentoring undergraduate students and helping other professors explore similar mentoring opportunities. He is the founder and director of the $2.6 million Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics (CURM). The fellowship will provide extra resources for Dr. Dorff to continue his work in mentoring of undergraduate students in research and sharing the BYU model for mentoring with professors and students at other institutions.
David Wright was honored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) with the Intermountain Section Teaching Award. This award is presented annually to college or university teachers within the mathematical field who are excellent teachers and whose influence in teaching has gone beyond the classroom. Besides his excellent classroom teaching, Dr. Wright has been instrumental in establishing and fostering the BYU Math Circles which helps students in K-12 schools experience the excitement of mathematics. Dr. Wright’s ability to foster students’ interest in mathematics has rightfully earned him this award.
Written by Michelle Drennan
BYU Math Department
This survey treats two connected questions in analytic number theory: given a set of natural numbers, one may seek numbers with large prime factors in the set. Alternatively, one searches for smooth numbers in the set. Many examples have been studied: the set of values of a polynomial, the set of integers in a short interval, the set of shifted primes p+a and so on. These are discussed at some length, with references to the literature.
Professor Michael Dorff of the Department of Mathematics will be announced as the recipient of the Lawrence K. Egbert Teaching and Learning Faculty Fellowship award at next year’s Annual University Conference.
The teaching and learning fellowship award, which has only existed for a few years, was created to recognize faculty members that have made a significant impact in the area of mentored learning.
Professor Dorff, who has been teaching at BYU for 12 years, was nominated and eventually selected as the recipient because of his extensive involvement in mentoring undergraduate students and helping other professors explore similar mentoring opportunities.
As part of Professor Dorff’s efforts to improve undergraduate research, he received a $1.26 million NSF grant in 2006 to create and direct the BYU sponsored “Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics,” (CURM). NSF has since renewed funding of the program with another $1.28 million grant to continue the successful project.
Dorff explains the purpose of this organization. “It is used to take the BYU model for mentoring and share it with professors and students at other institutions. CURM trains and offers financial support to these professors and students.”
Professor Dorff is very excited to continue working with students on a regular basis. Sometimes at a university, especially one the size of BYU, it’s difficult to maintain a close student-professor relationship. However, “when you are a mentor,” says Dorff, “you really get to know the students. You get to give help and guidance. You can offer career advice, spiritual advice and even sometimes you can help them with dating. You get to see them grow, and that’s really neat.”
The fellowship award will “provide some flexibility to do more things,” says Professor Dorff. “It’s nice to have funds to support undergraduate research and I’m very grateful to BYU.”
—Brian Shaw, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences
—Photo credit to Mathematical Association of America
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Forget the mistletoe and holly berries. Bring on the calculators, pencils, and scratch paper.
Mathematics students found all of these at this year’s Intermountain Math Competition, an annual test that determines whether BYU, University of Utah, Boise State University, Idaho State University, or University of Nevada Reno has the best math students. In this math competition among 36 students, the top six scores were all from BYU.
“My hand is tired because you have to write really fast,” said Sam Dittmer, a junior from Indianapolis, who got a perfect score of 70/70. The two students who tied for second (also from BYU) received 60/70, still a score to be reckoned with at the Intermountain Math Competition.
BYU uses the competition to prepare for the more difficult Putnam Exam that happens every year on the first Saturday of December. The Putnam brings 4,000 students from 600 universities face to face in one enormous battle of brains.
“The Intermountain Math Competition is not as hard as the Putnam, where the median score is zero, but it’s a good stepping stone to prepare for the event,” said Dr. Pace Nielsen, who compiles the questions from various universities for the Intermountain Math Competition.
The scores of the Intermountain Math Competition help professors decide which three students will represent BYU at the Putnam Exam. And this year, they are very excited about the current team of “mathletes.”
“We’ve got a really good group right now. We’re all excited to see how the team does on the Putnam test this December,” Dr. Gary Lawlor said. “We think they can score in the top 10 this year.”
Dr. Lawlor received 30th place on the Putnam his senior year at BYU in 1983. He went on to get his PhD in mathematics at Stanford. Now he passes on his Putnam wisdom by teaching Math 391R, a class dedicated to preparing students for the challenging exam, with Dr. Tiancheng Ouyang.
“To prepare for the Putnam competition, we help them with five different subjects including algebra, calculus, number series, combinatorics, and probability,” Dr. Ouyang said.
For many Putnam veterans, solving equations and winning competitions is something they’ve loved since their youth.
“The biggest thing that honed my skills in mathematics was just the desire to do well in these competitions,” Dr. Lawlor said. “As a byproduct of that, I did well in my classes. And because I did well on the Putnam test, that opened doors for me to go to graduate school.”
Those who participate in the Putnam Exam get instant recognition by many of the top graduate programs in the nation, as well as the National Science Foundation. This can help winning students receive scholarships and be accepted to their preferred grad school.
Perhaps this December, a little Christmas magic will rub off on this year’s competing Putnam “mathletes,” and they’ll finally crack that elusive top 10 ranking.
—Curtis Penfold, College of Physical and Mathematical Sciences