News Archive

Graduate Open House

Explore Masters and PhD options, meet
with faculty about their research, talk to
current grad students, dinner will be
Thursday, September 19th at 6:30 PM
Wilkinson Center Garden Court


Steve Butler (Iowa State University)

An introduction to the mathematics of juggling

Juggling and mathematics have both been done for thousands of years, but the mathematics of juggling is a relatively new combination that dates back a few decades and looks at using the tools of mathematics to analyze, connect, and count various juggling patterns. We will introduce some of the basic results related to the mathematics of juggling with a particular emphasis at looking at the various methods used to describe juggling patterns. A few “practical” applications will also be demonstrated.

Steve Butler is currently the Barbara J Janson Professor of Mathematics at Iowa State University. He was an undergraduate and Masters student at BYU; and earned his PhD degree in 2011 from UC San Diego where he studied under Fan Chung. He has worked extensively with Ron Graham, and is the last person to get an Erdos number of one. He has published 70 papers in mathematics in topics ranging from spectral graph theory and enumeration to card shuffling and juggling.

Scott Ahlgren (University of Illinois)

Kloosterman sums, Maass forms, and partitions.

This talk is about three important objects in number theory and the relationships between them.
The partition function counts the number of ways to break a natural number into parts—it is a fundamental object in combinatorics and additive number theory.
Kloosterman sums are exponential sums which appear naturally in a wide range of applications in number theory.
Maass forms are certain automorphic forms which encode information about a variety of arithmetical problems.

I will describe the objects and their history, the connections between them, some deep conjectures about their properties, and some recent results.
This will be a non-technical talk and will hopefully be accessible (and interesting!) to a general mathematical audience

Scott Ahlgren is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Illinois.
He earned a Ph.D. in 1996 under the supervision of Wolfgang Schmidt
at the University of Colorado and held positions at Penn State University
and Colgate University before joining the faculty at Illinois in 2001.
He has authored more than 50 papers on various topics in number theory.
This is his third visit to BYU.

Math Department Opening Social

Date: Thursday, September 5, 2019
Place: Kiwanis Park, 1019 N 1100 E, Provo, UT
Time: 6:30 PM

Hot dogs and drinks provided by the math department. Bring a side dish or dessert to share. Friends invited!

Dana Richards (George Mason University)

The vast majority of mathematical puzzles ask for the existence of a solution. It is merely an exercise when the method is known and it is more of a puzzle when the method is not clear. An algorithmic puzzle takes this further by only asking for the method itself or a property of the method. It is in this sense that much of computer science is puzzle solving. We discuss the theory behind this in the context of material taken from Martin Gardner’s Scientific American column. The answer to the following puzzle will be given:

There are five pirates dividing up 100 gold coins. Pirates are strictly ordered by seniority, are very logical and wish to live. The rule pirates use to divide gold is: (1) the most senior pirate suggests a division, (2) all pirates vote on it, (3) if at least half vote for it then it is done, otherwise the senior pirate is killed and the process starts over. What happens?

Dana Richards is an associate professor of Computer Science at George Mason University. His research is on theoretical and algorithmic topics. He has been a friend of Martin Gardner for nearly four decades and has edited Gardner’s book
The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems.

Emily Clader (San Francisco State University)

Abstract: Enumerative geometry is concerned with answering questions like: “given five points in the plane, how many ellipses pass through all five of them?” These problems have a rich history, including some techniques that were not always mathematically rigorous but still produced the right answers (usually). Mathematicians’ attempts to carefully develop the subject of enumerative geometry have led to many recent advances, and even to some unexpected connections with the physics of string theory. In this talk, I will give a tour of some of the problems, pitfalls, and successes in the history of enumerative geometry.

Emily Clader received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Michigan in 2014. After completing a postdoctoral fellowship at the ETH in Zurich, Switzerland, she joined the faculty at San Francisco State University as an Assistant Professor in 2016. Her current research is in algebraic geometry and moduli spaces.

BYU’s Michael Griffin Helps Revive Mathematical Theory with Century Old idea

Many ways to approach the Riemann Hypothesis have been proposed during the past 150 years, but none of them have led to conquering the most famous open problem in mathematics. A new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) suggests that one of these old approaches is more practical than previously realized.

The Riemann Hypothesis is one of seven Millennium Prize Problems, identified by the Clay Mathematics Institute as the most important open problems in mathematics. Each problem carries a $1 million bounty for its solvers.

More Details can be read at the following link

Focus on Math: Evelyn Lamb

Visualizing hyperbolic geometry
For two thousand years, mathematicians tried to prove that Euclidean geometry, the geometry you probably learned in high school, was all there was. But it’s not! In the early nineteenth century, János Bolyai and Nikolai Lobachevsky independently discovered that by tweaking one of Euclid’s postulates, geometry can look totally different. We will explore the rich world of hyperbolic geometry, one of the new and beautiful systems of geometry that results from this tweak. Our guides on the adventure will be mathematically inspired artists and artistically inspired mathematicians, including M.C. Escher, Daina Taimina, and Henry Segerman.

Evelyn Lamb is a freelance math and science writer based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She earned her Ph.D. at Rice University in 2012 and taught at the University of Utah until 2015, when she left academia to pursue writing full-time. She began her writing career with a AAAS-AMS mass media fellowship at Scientific American. Her work has appeared in outlets including Scientific American, Slate, Quanta, Nautilus, and Smithsonian and in the Best Writing on Mathematics anthology. She cohosts the My Favorite Theorem podcast with Kevin Knudson. Her blog, Roots of Unity, is on the Scientific American blog network. Follow on Twitter: @evelynjlamb.

Pi Day 2019

Join us in the lobby of the Talmage building to celebrate Pi Day and Albert Einstein’s birthday!

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

TMCB Lobby, 12:00pm-2pm

Pi walk, pin the mustache on Einstein, pi face paint, and more pi related fun. Make sure to brush up on the digits of pi for the pi recitation contest!
Pi Day t-shirts will be on sale for $10, starting March 11th in the Math Department office (275 TMCB). Free pie with every shirt Monday- Wednesday!
Volunteers are needed to run booths at the event. Sign up in 275 TMCB. All volunteers will receive a free t-shirt.

Additional events:

“Pi Day with the Simpsons and Futurama”
Guest Lecture by Sarah Greenwald of Appalachian State University
Pi Day at 4:00pm, 1104 JKB
Pizza and Pie provided!
What can you do with a degree in mathematics? An easier question might be to ask what can’t you do? Did you know that The Simpsons and Futurama contain hundreds of humorous mathematical and scientific references? Come celebrate π-day with The Simpsons and Futurama as we explore the mathematical content and educational value of some favorite π moments along with the motivations and backgrounds of the writers during an interactive talk. Popular culture can reveal, reflect, and even shape how society views mathematics, and with careful consideration of the benefits and challenges, these programs can be an ideal source of fun ways to introduce important concepts and to reduce math anxiety.

Women in Math
Special Pi Day event with Sarah Greenwald of Appalachian State University.
6:00pm, 111 TMCB
“Promoting Women in Mathematics”
We’ll highlight ways people study and understand the climate for underrepresented mathematicians and will then turn our attention to how people have made and can make a difference, focusing specifically on promoting women in mathematics. This is planned partly as a talk and partly as an exchange of ideas.
Sarah J. Greenwald is Professor of Mathematics and Faculty Affiliate of Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies at Appalachian State University. Her PhD in mathematics is from the University of Pennsylvania in Riemannian geometry. She investigates connections between mathematics and society, such as women, minorities, and popular culture. She has won several awards for teaching, scholarship and service, most recently a 2018 Association for Women in Mathematics Service Award.