News Archive

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.


Peter Bates (Stochastic PDE Seminar)

Math 313 will be replaced with Math 213 and Math 215

Starting Fall 2019, Math 313 (Elementary Linear Algebra) courses will be discontinued. The curriculum will be split between Math 213, a 2 credit course which focuses on the theory of linear algebra, and Math 215, a 1 credit lab course which focuses on its computational applications. Note that concurrent or previous enrollment in Math 213, Math 313, or Math 302 is a requirement for taking Math 215.

For mathematics majors: 

Math majors who have not completed Math 313 before Fall 2019 will instead be required to take Math 213 and Math 215.

For other majors that also formerly required Math 313: 

In most cases, Math 313 will be replaced with Math 213 and Math 215, but please contact the academic advisor for your major to confirm whether you are required to take Math 213, Math 215, or both.

Stochastic PDE Seminar: Professor Jialin Hong (Chinese Academy of Mathematics and Systems Sciences)

Abstract: In this talk we present a review on stochastic symplecticity (multi-symplecticity) and ergodicity of numerical methods for stochastic nonlinear Schrodinger (NLS) equation. The equation considered is charge conservative and has the multi-symplectic conservation law. Based a stochastic version of variational principle, we show that the phase flow of the equation, considered as an evolution equation, preserves the symplectic structure of the phase space. We give some symplectic integrators and multi-symplectic methods for the equation. By constructing control system and invariant control set, it is proved that the symplectic integrator, based on the central difference scheme, possesses a unique invariant measure on the unit sphere. Furthermore, by using the midpoint scheme, we get a full discretization which possesses the discrete charge conservation law and the discrete multi-symplectic conservation law. Utilizing the Poisson equation corresponding to the finite dimensional approximation, the convergence error between the temporal average of the full discretization and the ergodic limit of the symplectic method is derived (In collaboration with Dr. Chuchu Chen, Dr. Xu Wang and Dr. Liying Zhang).

Robert Lang

Abstract: The last decade of this past century has been witness to a revolution in the development and application of mathematical techniques to origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of paper-folding. The techniques used in mathematical origami design range from the abstruse to the highly approachable. In this talk, I will describe how geometric concepts led to the solution of a broad class of origami folding problems – specifically, the problem of efficiently folding a shape with an arbitrary number and arrangement of flaps, and along the way, enabled origami designs of mind-blowing complexity and realism, some of which you’ll see, too. As often happens in mathematics, theory originally developed for its own sake has led to some surprising practical applications. The algorithms and theorems of origami design have shed light on long-standing mathematical questions and have solved practical engineering problems. I will discuss examples of how origami and its underlying math has enabled safer airbags, Brobdingnagian space telescopes, and more.

Robert J. Lang is recognized as one of the foremost origami artists in the world as well as a pioneer in computational origami and the development of formal design algorithms for folding. With a Ph.D. in Applied Physics from Caltech, he has, during the course of work at NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Spectra Diode Laboratories, and JDS Uniphase, authored or co-authored over100 papers and 50 patents in lasers and optoelectronics as well as authoring, co-authoring, or editing 25 refereed papers, 17 books, and a CD-ROM on origami. Since 2001, he has been a full-time artist and consultant on origami and its applications to engineering problems. He received Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award, in 2009 and was elected a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society in 2013.

Pamela Harris (Williams College)

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 ? 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.