Focus on Math: Pamela Harris – Professor

Thursday, October 19, 2017 at 4:30:pm in 1170 TMCB

Title: Invisible Lattice Points

Abstract: This talk is about the invisibility of points on the integer lattice ℤ ✕ ℤ, where we think of these points as (infinitely thin) trees. Standing at the origin one may notice that the tree at the integer lattice point (1, 1) blocks from view the trees at (2, 2), (3, 3), and, more generally, at (n, n) for any n ∈ ℤ≥0. In fact any tree at (ℓ, m) will be invisible from the origin whenever 𝓁 and m share any divisor d, since the tree at (ℓ/D, m/D), where D = gcd(ℓ, m) blocks (ℓ, m) from view. With this fact at hand, we will investigate the following questions. If the lines of sight are straight lines through the origin, then what is the probability that the tree at (ℓ, m) is visible? Meaning, that the tree (ℓ, m) is not blocked from view by a tree in front of it. Is possible for us to find forests of trees (rectangular regions of adjacent lattice points) in which all trees are invisible? If it is possible to find such forests, how large can those forests be? What happens if the lines of sight are no longer straight lines through the origin, i.e. functions of the form f(x) = ax with , but instead are functions of the form f(x) = axb with b a positive integer and a ∈ ℚ? Along this mathematical journey, I will also discuss invisibility as it deals with the underrepresentation of women and minorities in the mathematical sciences and I will share the work I have done to help bring more visibility to the mathematical contributions of Latinx and Hispanic Mathematicians.

Math work is joint with Bethany Kubik, Edray Goins, and Aba Mbirika. Diversity work with Alexander Diaz-Lopez, Alicia Prieto Langarica, and Gabriel Sosa.

Biography: Pamela E. Harris is a Mexican-American Assistant Professor in the department of Mathematics and Statistics at Williams College. She received her B.S. from Marquette University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her research interests are in algebra and combinatorics, particularly as these subjects relate to the representation theory of Lie algebras. Her recent research on vector partition functions and projects in graph theory has been supported through awards from the National Science Foundation and the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics. Harris co-organizes research symposia and professional development sessions for the national conference of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos/Hispanics and Native Americans in Science, was a Mathematical Association of America’s Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) Fellow from 2012-2013, and is an editor of the e-Mentoring Network blog of the American Mathematical Society. In 2016, she co-founded an online platform that features prominently the extent of the research and mentoring contributions of Latins and Hispanics in the Mathematical Sciences. She is also the lead editor for the Special Issue on Motherhood and Mathematics of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics.

To Be Or Not To Be: A Math Major

The annual Math Department Information Session, To Be Or Not To Be(TBONTB), is this Thursday, October 12th in TMCB 1170. Come eat free pizza and have the opportunity to ask Math professors questions about the major.

Alumni Tailgate

Math Opening Social

Come join the Math department for fun, food, and games at Kiwanis Park on Friday, September 29th, at 6PM. Everyone is welcome.

Careers in Math: Eric Neilson (Amazon)

Eric graduated from BYU with a B.S. in Electronics Information Technology. He worked locally, at Workfront, for many years before moving to Amazon. Currently, he manages the development of AWS Snowball and AWS Snowball Edge. In his free time Eric loves to he loves to go snow skiing, water skiing, wake surfing, dirt bike, and boating.



Pi Day 2017

It’s irrational, it goes on forever, and after a year of waiting… it’s finally back! Let your inner nerd shine at BYU Math’s annual Pi Day celebration! On March 14 (3/14) from 12 p.m. to 2 p.m., everyone is invited to join us at Brigham Square for games, contests, celebrations, giveaways, and fun!  We’ve already ordered hundreds and hundreds of pies, donuts, t-shirts, and swag!

Pi Day isn’t just for math
majors. Are you an economics major? Come watch Professor Jim Kearl take a pie to the face. Exercise Science? Test your free-throw skills at our March Madness booth. Business? Theater? Family Sciences? Communications? We have tons of booths and activities right up your alley. Maybe you’ve given up on academics and only care about BYU Football—no worries! We’ll have our student athletes as special guests and a visit from our favorite cougar, Cosmo! There really is something for everyone.

In celebration of Pi, there will be pie-eating contests, a “Pie the Professor” booth, Pi recitation competitions, and much more. March 14 also marks the 138th birthday of the one and only Albert Einstein. Enjoy an Einstein-themed photo shoot, Einstein corn-hole, and eat a birthday pie in his honor. This Pi Day is also the kick-start to March Madness, so what better way to celebrate than by learning about the various algorithms used to predict tournament wins/losses and having the opportunity to make your own bracket? Turn in your roster for a chance to win prizes. Not only do we get to celebrate a genius’ birthday and the most famous number of all, but we also get to do it in style. Pi day is a great excuse for winning prizes and having a blast—don’t miss it!

Focus on Math – Gwen Spencer (Smith College)

Thursday, February 23rd

4:00 pm 1170 TMCB

Everyone Welcome!

Gwen Spencer did her PhD in Operations Research under David Shmoys at Cornell. She comes highly recommended as a mathematician who can speak at the level appropriate for undergraduate students.

Focus in Math

Have you ever been in a math class and asked yourself in a blurt of frustration, “When will I ever use this!?!” If so, your answer is here! BYU Department of Mathematics is excited to announce its “Focus-In-Math” speakers for Winter Semester 2017. Professional lecturers with careers in mathematics from across the country will be visiting our school throughout the semester to teach us how they use math. Our three guest speakers this semester are Dr. Gwen Spencer, Dr. Nick Trefethen, and Dr. Robert Bradshaw. This is an extremely beneficial opportunity for anyone going into careers involving math.

Our first speaker, Dr. Gwen Spencer, graduated from Harvey Mudd College with her bachelor’s degree in mathematics and went on to attain a PhD in Operations Research, as well as Postdoctoral Fellowships in Environmental Studies, Computer Science, and Economics. She is a successful mathematician and specializes in Approximation Algorithms, Stochastic Optimization, and Graph Theory. With her unique background and experience, Dr. Spencer can help us see math from an innovative viewpoint.

Dr. Nick Trefethen is a renowned mathematician with a bachelor’s degree from Harvard, his master’s from Stanford, and a Ph.D. on “Wave Propagation and Stability for finite Difference Schemes.” He has experience working at the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Cornell University. He is now an appointed chair at the University of Oxford, and a Fellowship of Balliol College, Oxford. Dr. Trefethen brings with him an extraordinary understanding of mathematics, and we are extremely excited to learn from such a prominent mathematician.

Dr. Robert Bradshaw is one of our very own BYU Alumni! After graduating BYU with double degrees in mathematics and linguistics he went on to get his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in mathematics from the University of Washington. He has worked the past seven years as a Software Engineer for Google, and after meeting students last year as they toured Google’s Offices in Seattle, BYU invited him to share with students who share the same cougar pride.

Anticipate a powerful lineup of speakers and lectures this semester. Do not forget to mark your calendars:

  • Thursday, February 23 – Dr. Gwen Spencer
  • Thursday, March 23 – Dr. Nick Trefethen
  • Thursday, April 13 – Dr. Robert Bradshaw

Join us for “Focus in Math Lectures” in room 1170 TMCB at 4 PM on the listed dates. See math from a new perspective – Learn the real answers to why and to what depth we use math.

Careers in Math: Pixar Disney

The BYU Math Department proudly welcomes Aleka McAdams from Pixar Disney as a part of BYU’s Careers in Math.

Date: December 8

Time: 4 PM (Refreshments at 3:45)

Place: 1170 TMCB

Join BYU Math after Careers in Math for a Games and Fun in room 111 TMCB