News Archive

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.

BYU Math TA Receives Tutor of the Year Award

BYU Independent Study’s team of over 90 tutors is an impressive group of intellectual coaches—they can help you learn anything from Economics to World Languages. BYU Math is proud to announce that out of the multitudes of tutors from many disciplines, BYU-IS presented their “Tutor of the Year” award to our very own Math 110 TA, Robert Glasgow!

Robbie shows off his well-earned award

Wendy Simmerman, with BYU-IS, said, “Robbie received the top award for his excellent interactions with students, and also for the initiative, creativity, and dedication he exhibits in working with math students.” If any of you have worked with him, you know that that statement is not an exaggeration. Robbie’s fellow tutors and others admire the way he works, and because of that, they nominated him for this awesome award.

Robert is the best of the best—because our entire team of tutors really are the best. If you have ever had questions in algebra, trigonometry, statistics, or calculus, then you have probably worked firsthand with one of our amazing tutors.  If you have not, you are missing out. The Math Lab is open almost every day for students who want a little extra help, and if that’s not enough, you can schedule an appointment with a tutor through the Independent Study Website.

Here is an entertaining video about BYU-IS and the Math Lab–

Don’t just take our word for it–check it out!

Colloquium: Michaël Ulrich (Lycée Kléber)

Title: Discovering dual groups

Abstract: Compact quantum groups are a well-known way of generalizing the concept of a group in the framework of non-commutative mathematics.  Less known are dual groups.  Introduced by Voiculescu in the 80’s and also known as H-algebras, they are very similar to compact quantum groups but the computliplication has values this time in a free product instead of a tensor product.  We will introduce the notion of dual group, compare it to compact quantum groups and give some new results that allow us to understand them

Thursday, February 2nd
4pm 135 TMCB
Refreshments Served
Everyone Welcome!

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 Mathematics Department 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.

Applied Math in Europe Study Abroad

This year, we are excited to announce the first ever Math Study Abroad!! For three weeks in the spring, students will be traveling around eight different European and Scandinavian countries. Led by our Department Chair Michael Dorff, we will visit companies abroad to see the different ways the skills students learn in the classroom are being applied to many different fields of work. We are thrilled to be offering this experience that is sure to be unforgettable for all those who participate!

We are accepting applications now. To apply, click here.



BYU Math Students Rank Top Ten in the Virginia Tech Regional Mathematics Contest

Earlier this year, students from all across the nation gathered in an intense mathematical competition—the Virginia Tech Regional Mathematics Contest. The stakes were high and the chances for success were intimidating. Despite staggering odds, and up against over 670 other students from 28 states, BYU students Grant Molnar and Joseph Ward made the top ten! Such high rankings by our very own students is a major accomplishment, especially considering how many of the participants have spent much of their lives competing in math contests. To put their achievement in scope, many of the schools in attendance are renowned mathematical powerhouses like Harvard, Princeton, Carnegie Mellon, and Duke.

The test on which our two students did so well was not an easy feat. Each student competing received an exam with seven complex questions, and each question was worth 10 points—adding up to a staggering total of 70 points. The test was so difficult that the first-place score was only a 42/70, and over 80 percent of competitors scored 0/70. Despite the test’s extreme difficulty, BYU’s Grant Molnar tied for third place with a score of 32, and Joseph Ward took tenth place with a score of 27.  They accredit their success to active participation in BYU’s Problem Solving Club, the Putnam class, and undergraduate research work.

“This is an excellent accomplishment,” stated Professor Nielsen, commenting on the students’ success.  We applaud both students for their mathematical talent and commend them for this impressive accomplishment.

New BYU Math Professor Pays It Forward to His Students

Read more about the new math department professor at

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

Colloquium: Barry Simon (Cal Tech)

Title: Tales of Our Forefathers

Abstract: This is not a mathematics talk but it is a talk for mathematicians. Too often, we think of historical mathematicians as only names assigned to theorems. With vignettes and anecdotes, I’ll convince you they were also human beings and that, as the Chinese say, “May you live in interesting times” really is a curse.

Time: Nov 14th 4:00-5:00PM 3106 JKB