Talks will be preceded by Math Tea at 3.15pm, outside LS 209.
ET Math: How different could it be?
John Stillwell, USF
Wednesday, October 29 -- 4.00-5.00pm in HR 232
If we hope to detect extraterrrestrial intelligence by looking for signals that seem like math, we need to be aware of the different ways in which math may be expressed. Consider the idea that "multiplication is commutative," which we usually express by the equation ab=ba. Even this simple idea has been understood in hugely different ways by human mathematicians, as I hope to show in this talk, so ET math may be hard to recognize!
For example, geometry gives two very different ways to explain ab=ba. There is an easy way (Euclid), which you can probably guess from the picture below, and a hard way (Pappus) which even Pappus did not guess from his picture.
Future talks-- please check back for titles and abstracts:
- Persi Diaconis (Stanford University) -- November 5
- Emille Lawrence (USF) -- November 19
- Pi Mu Epsilon Event -- December 3
Dance of the Planets: An Exploration of Newton's N-Body Problem
Elizabeth Zollinger, St. Joseph's College
Wednesday, October 8
Ever since Newton tried to write down the equations of the motion of
the moon, celestial mechanics has been a proving ground for techniques
in calculus and differential equations. Many mathematicians, from Euler
to Lagrange to Poincaré have been pulled into the challenge of Newton's
N-Body Problem. Using only Newton's force and gravity laws, we will
derive the equations governing the motion of point masses in space.
With the equations at hand we'll look at a variety of orbits including
Chenciner and Montgomery's relatively recent figure-8 orbit as seen on
the space of oriented triangles.
Kiran Kedlaya, UC San Diego
Wednesday, September 24
Easy to state but hard to solve: My favorite open questions in Polyhedral Geometry
Jesus de Loera (UC Davis)
September 10, 2014
Abstract: Convex polyhedra are familiar
objects since our childhood. Indeed, cubes, pyramids, and triangles are
common staples in all kindergardens! Unknown to most people polyhedra,
in their high-dimensional version, are also widely used in applied
mathematics (e.g. operations research, finances, computer networks, and
more). Their beauty and simplicity appeal to all, but very few people
know of the many easy-to-state difficult unsolved mathematical problems
that hide behind their beauty. The purpose of this lecture is to
introduce an audience without prior background to some of these
fascinating open questions on the frontiers of mathematical research!
Even high-school students can understand some of them! Along the way we
will talk about why is important to believe in yourself!
Past talks (Spring 2014)
Wednesday, May 7, 2014
Last Math Tea, Mathematics Dept. Awards, Pi Mu Epsilon Ceremony, Career Panel
The Batey Prize: Helen Cleaves
Batey Prize is awarded to the most outstanding graduating senior in
mathematics and includes a purse, a gift of the Batey family.
Mike & Millie Lehmann Scholarship: Samuel Roven
in 2004 by the USF Faculty Association in honor of the Lehmanns'
dedication to their USF students and significant contributions to the
Faculty Association, the Lehmann Scholarship provides a $1000
scholarship to Math majors and Economics majors each year.
Congratulations, Helen & Sam!
Pi Mu Epsilon: newly inducted members pictured here.
Career Panelists: Kathryn Berkman, Barbara Evangelista, Alex Nelson, Holly Toboni
Kathryn Berkman is a 7th grade math and science teacher at Gateway Middle School. She received her undergraduate degree from USF with a major in Mathematics and minor in dance. Kathryn then continued at USF to receive her graduate degree in education. She is currently working to bring enthusiasm to the field of math through integration of movement and social relevancy.
Barbara Evangelista completed her B.S. at USF in Mathematics, with a minor in Music, in May 2012. She completed her MS in Analytics at USF in June 2013 and was a member of the program's first cohort. During the program, she worked with three other MS candidates on a project at PayPal. Barbara began working at a mobile gaming company called GREE International, Inc. in August 2013 as a Business Intelligence Data Analyst. She ramped up quickly, shadowing two senior analysts and is now the BI analyst for two of their four RPG+ titles, and is the BI analyst for an innovative soft-core gaming initiative, G-Labs.
is a Senior Consultant at Oracle Corporation. He received his B.S. in
Mathematics with a minor in Computer Science from USF and went on to
obtain a masters from USF in Sports Management. At Oracle, Alex works to
create custom Project Portfolio Management solutions and he has
currently built solutions for INPEX Corporation's Ichthys Project and
Alberta Health Services e-Facilities Project.
Holly Toboni double majored in math and mechanical engineering at Santa Clara University. She then received an MS in statistics from the University of Maryland. Now Holly is senior manager of customer analytics at Williams-Sonoma here in San Francisco.
- Primes and Zeroes, a Million Dollar Mystery
Brian Conrey (American Institute of Mathematics)
Wednesday, April 19, 2014
Abstract: More than 150 years ago Riemann proposed a way to understand how the
prime numbers are distributed. But still to this day we have not been
able to complete Riemann's program. This talk will focus on the
colorful history of people and their attempts to prove Riemann's
- Connect the dots!
Henri Picciotto (Urban School, Emeritus)
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
Abstract: We will explore some interesting problems on a lattice. They cover a
wide range. Some lead to a hands-on approach to secondary school topics
such as slope, the Pythagorean theorem, and simplifying radicals. Some
are currently unsolved and are fun to think about. Some fall somewhere
- Eigenvalues of Toeplitz Matrices
Bin Shao (Univ. of San Francisco)
Wednesday, March 19, 2014
about abstract eigenvalue distributions, in general, are of interest
because of their applications in physics. They are also fascinating from
a purely mathematical point of view. A host of mathematicians and
physicists have been attracted to such problems since the early 1900’s.
In this talk, I will present one of the old and elegant results in this
area; namely, a 1917 theorem of Gabor Szego’s which tells how the
eigenvalues of Toeplitz matrices are distributed as their size grows to
infinity. The purpose of this talk is to present an account of Szego’s
result at the level accessible to undergraduates who have had a basic
real analysis course or a calculus sequence course, and a basic linear
The Diagonal Harmonics and n Capricious Wives
Angela Hicks (Stanford University)
Wednesday, March 5, 2014
Abstract: In 1966, Konheim and Weiss told the mathematical story of n dutiful husbands driving down a one way street and parking in the first available space upon receiving the command from their n
(independently) capricious wives. We will discuss the now famous
combinatorial object that results from the story--the parking
function--and a few of the reasons for its study. In particular, we'll
discuss a space of multivariate polynomials called the diagonal
harmonics and their conjectured connection to the parking functions.
We'll discuss open problems in the area, and time permitting, a
connection to the Catalan numbers. This talk will assume basic
familiarity with partial derivatives and some familiarity with linear
algebra (especially the concept of dimension of a space) but no deeper
background will be assumed.
- Working for a National Laboratory in Operations Research--
‘The Science of Better’
Carol Meyers (Lawrence Livermore National Labs)
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Abstract: Are you curious as to the kind of work that is done at a national laboratory?
Have you heard of the field of operations research, or are you interested in
learning about it and how it is applied to real problems? In this talk I will
describe the kinds of math I use in my job at Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, as well as giving an introduction to the discipline of operations
research. The talk will focus primarily on two projects I have worked on. The
first of these involves using optimization techniques to assess policy options
for downsizing the US nuclear weapons stockpile.
We discuss consolidation of the weapons complex in general, and our
implementation of a mixed-integer linear programming model that is currently
being used to evaluate policy alternatives. The second topic addresses using
supercomputers to help solve energy grid planning problems, based on ongoing
work with energy stakeholders in the state of California. With the increased
introduction of renewable resources into the grid, planning models must account
for increased intermittency of generation, which leads to larger and more
complex optimization problems. We demonstrate how such problems can be solved
much more quickly via the use of supercomputing.