USF Mathematics Colloquium

Spring 2015


This is it!  Pi Mu Epsilon presents Career Night 2015!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

 Join us for Math Tea at 3.15pm in McLaren 250; to be followed by career panel,
departmental awards, and induction of new Pi Mu Epsilon members.


Ariana del Toro, Class of 2014, Physics / Math minor
Materials Research Lab at UC Santa Barbara 
Mike Brzustowicz, Physicist turned Analyst, USF MS Analytics Faculty
Addie Schnirel, Center for Science and Math Education at SFSU;
Co-Director of San Francisco Math Circle
 Pavel Mizenin, Data Scientist at Twilio
Twilio is refining communications with software, by providing a platform with which developers can integrate communications into their applications.




Past talks

 Colloquium Wed 05/06


  Colloq. 04.22.2015

 VM 04.08.2015 Colloq


       EricaFlapan Colloquium




      Po-Shen Loh Colloquium

  • What is a Geometry?

Ilesanmi Adeboye, Wesleyan University
Wednesday, February 18

Abstract:  In this talk, I will give an introduction to the Erlangen program of Felix Klein. Klein's program sought to classify various geometries on the basis of projective geometry. Projective geometry is non-metrical: a square is equivalent to an irregular rectangle. However, we will show (in dimension 2) how to recover the familiar metric geometries (Euclidean, spherical and hyperbolic) as subgeometries of projective geometry. The talk will conclude with a description of my current project: constructing bounds for the Hilbert area of a projective surface.


  • My Favorite Automorphisms
Emille Lawrence, USF
Wednesday, November 19
Abstract:   In this talk, I will convince you that the group of automorphisms of a mathematical object is, indeed, a gateway to understanding the object and is rich with compelling questions. We will survey some of my favorite automorphism groups, which may become some of your favorite automorphism groups.


  •  Adding numbers and shuffling cards

Persi Diaconis, Stanford University
Wednesday, November 5

Abstract: When adding numbers in the usual way, "carries" occur as you go along. Understanding the carries turns out to be the same problem as understanding the question "how many times should a deck of cards be shuffled to mix it?"  I will explain the connection and tell what we know about both problems. 


  •  ET Math: How different could it be?

John Stillwell, USF
Wednesday, October 29
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.
 Euclid image 10.29 colloq
  Pappus image 10.29 colloq



  • Dance of the Planets: An Exploration of Newton's N-Body Problem

Elizabeth Zollinger, St. Joseph's College
Wednesday, October 8

Abstract: 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.

  • My College Roommate

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
The 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
Established 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.

Alex Nelson 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 Hypothesis.

  • 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 in between.
  • Eigenvalues of Toeplitz Matrices
    Bin Shao (Univ. of San Francisco)
    Wednesday, March 19, 2014

    Abstract: Problems 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 algebra course.
  • 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 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.


Past talks (2010–Fall 2013)