M3 Math Majors Matter ----------------------------------

NEWS AND VIEWS ARCHIVE


Issue 1 : November 2005

Local News

Math Department Changes Name
In its October meeting the faculty of the Mathematics Department at UCDHSC voted to change the name of the department to the Department of Mathematical Sciences. Chairman Mike Jacobson introduced the idea at the September department meeting, indicating that the proposed name would be more in keeping with the activities of the department and would give prospective new faculty a clearer idea of the diversity of the department's offerings. In particular, statisticians may look more closely at a Department of Mathematical Sciences than they would at a Mathematics Department. At the October meeting Jacobson introduced some data showing the disciplines represented by several Departments of Mathematical Sciences around the country, and how they closely paralleled our own disciplines.

Formal change awaits the approval by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, but no difficulty in obtaining that approval is foreseen.

New Undergraduate Option
In its October meeting the faculty of the Department of Mathematical Sciences (see above) at UCDHSC voted to add an option in Discrete Mathematics to its undergraduate offerings. When the faculty were polled, no one could remember why this option wasn't offered in the past. Since all the other disciplines in the department were represented by options, it seemed appropriate that this option should exist. The details of the option can be found on the Undergraduate Page of the department's webpage. The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences must formally approve the option before it takes effect.

Math News

Major Advance on the Twin Primes Conjecture
May 24, 2005. The situation is highly reminiscent of Andrew Wiles' proof of Fermat's Last Theorem in 1993-94. In 2003, two mathematicians announced a proof of a remarkable theorem about prime numbers, closely related to the twin primes conjecture. Mathematicians around the world applauded and the press spread the story far and wide. Then, a few weeks later, number theorists Andrew Granville and Kannan Soundararajan found a major flaw in the argument. Now the same two mathematicians have released a new proof of the same result. And this time, the experts — including both Granville and Soundararajan — having scrutinized the proof for several months, say it is okay.

Read Keith Devlin's report on this development.

Issue 2 : December 2005

Local News

Professor Fraughnaugh retires
After 23 years of hard work for the Department of Mathematical Sciences, Professor Kathy Fraughnaugh has decided to retire as of January 2006. A member of the Discrete Math group, her primary research interest was in graph theory. Over the years she had taught a variety of courses, most notably Math 4409: Applied Graph Theory and Math 3000: Introduction to Abstract Mathematics. In a brief ceremony held during the Department's Holiday Party, Professors Rich Lundgren and Bill Cherowitzo paid tribute to their retiring colleague. Dr. Fraughnaugh has indicated that she would like to spend some time developing her "artistic" side in the years to come. We all wish her the best of luck as she enters this new phase of her life.

Mathematical Contest in Modeling - Looking for undergraduates
The Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) is an annual international event in which teams of three undergraduate students work for 72 hours on one of two open-ended modeling. This year's MCM will be held on February 2-6, 2006. CU-Denver has entered teams in the MCM for the last three years. If you are interested in being on an MCM team, contact Gary Olson, golson@math.cudenver.edu. For details, see http://www.comap.com/undergraduate/contests/mcm/.

Math 4408 - Graph Theory
Reminder: Math 4408 (Applied Graph Theory) has often been offered during the summer semester, but not this year. The course has been moved to the Spring semester this year, so if you were planning on taking it this summer enroll now for the Spring.

Erdös Day a success
Over 90 people attended last month's Erdös Day event, viewing a film (N is a number) about Paul Erdös and listening to some personal anecdotes about him from Professors Mike Jacobson and Stan Payne. Perhaps the free pizza and drinks had something to do with the large turnout, but Undergraduate Committee Chair Bill Briggs thinks not. Plans are underway for another "event" sometime during the spring semester.

Chairman on Crutches
Chairman Mike Jacobson had a successful hip replacement surgery done in November and can now be seen around the department offices on crutches. We all hope he has a speedy recovery.

Math News

"Baseball prediction takes a geeky turn," by Dan Vergano. USA Today, 13 November 2005.
Rebecca Sparks and David Abrahamson, two mathematicians at Rhode Island College, modeled baseball writers' voting for the American League (AL) and National League (NL) Cy Young Awards (given to the best pitcher in each league). Their model predicted that the winners would be Bartolo Colón in the AL and Chris Carpenter in the NL. The number that the model gave to Colón was so low, however, that Sparks and Abrahamson overrode the model's prediction, which uses statistics more applicable to starting pitchers, and predicted that the AL winner would be Mariano Rivera, a reliever. When the baseball writers' votes were announced it turned out that the model's prediction was correct: Colón and Carpenter won the 2005 Cy Young Awards. Said Sparks, "We are a little mad at ourselves for not totally trusting the model." The article containing the model, "A Mathematical Model to Predict Award Winners," is available online and was published in the April issue of Math Horizons. --- Mike Breen

Issue 3 : February 2006

Local News

Department is looking for new faculty hires
The department of Mathematical Sciences is looking to hire two new professors. One position is in computational mathematics and several candidates have already been interviewed on campus. The other position is for a senior statistician and we should be hearing shortly about possible candidates. When these candidates are on campus they give general talks on their research interests. Everyone is invited to these presentations, and your feedback to the search committees is highly valued.

Our SIAM student chapter to host regional meeting on March 11, 2006
The 2nd SIAM Front Range Applied Mathematics Student Conference (Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics) will be held on Saturday, March 11, 2006 at the University of Colorado at Denver – Auraria Campus. The conference is being sponsored by SIAM student chapters at the University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses).
All undergraduate and graduate students from the region are encouraged to participate and give a 15- or 30-minute presentation on a research topic they’ve been involved in. A special session on MCM/ICM contest will be organized as well.
The deadline for the submission of abstracts is March 1st. Further information about the conference, including posters and brochures, can be found at http://amath.colorado.edu/siam/conference.

Mathematical Contest in Modeling was held Feb. 2 - 6
The Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) is an annual international event in which teams of three undergraduate students work for 72 hours on one of two open-ended modeling. Our thanks go to Gary Olson for organizing our effort this year.

Math News

Missouri researchers find largest prime number to date.
In December, 2005 researchers at Central Missouri State University showed that 230,402,457 - 1 is a prime number. This holds the record for the largest known prime number and is a Mersenne prime. For more information on the search for Mersenne primes visit the Great Internet Mersenne Prime Search.

Issue 4 : March 2006

Local News

Spring Extravaganza ... Wednesday, March 15 ...
The Undergraduate committee of the Department of Mathematical Sciences proudly presents Howie Movshovitz, UCDHSC faculty member and NPR film critic who will discuss the film "Proof" (see our archived review). This event will take place on Wednesday, March 15 in room 470 CU-Denver Bldg from 12 - 130. Pizza and soda will be provided. To get the most out of this discussion you should have already seen the film. The department will have a free showing of the film at 10AM on March 15 in room 656 CU-Denver Bldg. Other screenings will be arranged during the week of March 6, look for announcements.

Our SIAM student chapter to host regional meeting on March 11, 2006
The 2nd SIAM Front Range Applied Mathematics Student Conference (Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics) will be held on Saturday, March 11, 2006 at the University of Colorado at Denver – Auraria Campus. The conference is being sponsored by SIAM student chapters at the University of Colorado (Boulder, Colorado Springs and Denver campuses).
All undergraduate and graduate students from the region are encouraged to participate and give a 15- or 30-minute presentation on a research topic they’ve been involved in. A special session on MCM/ICM contest will be organized as well.
The deadline for the submission of abstracts was March 1st. Further information about the conference, including posters and brochures, can be found at http://amath.colorado.edu/siam/conference.

Undergraduate Committee is looking for an undergraduate student representative
If you are interested in representing the undergraduate math majors on the department's Undergraduate Committee (meets every other Tuesday from 1130 - 1) please let the chair Bill Briggs (wbriggs@math.cudenver.edu) know.

Oscar Vega to fill post-doc position
Oscar Vega from the University of Iowa will fill the newly created post-doc position for the '06-'07 and '07-'08 academic years. His research interests are in finite geometry and combinatorics. He will be teaching four courses a year. The department is still working on filling the tenure-track positions it has open.

Math News

"By the Numb3rs," by Frank Roylance. Baltimore Sun, 27 January 2006.
Baltimore Sun writer Frank Roylance discusses the popular TV show, NUMB3RS (see review in this month's Math and Arts department), and a husband-and-wife team whose research inspired the topic of a recent episode. In the episode, investigators used a mathematical model to find the most likely recipient of a black-market kidney. The story was inspired by the real-life work done by transplant surgeon Dorry Segev and mathematics professor Sommer Gentry. Sometimes an ailing patient and potential donor find their tissues are not compatible. However, if another mismatched pair of patient and donor can be found whose tissues match the first pair, a paired organ donation can be done and both patients will receive the much-needed transplant. Working at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, Segev and Gentry used optimization theory to develop a model for finding and matching up such pairs. In fact, Roylance notes, thousands of additional matches could be made each year through an optimized, national system for paired organ donations. (Currently no such system exists.)

The fact that the NUMB3RS series producers "have worked hard to get the math right," and have made mathematics more engaging to the public by drawing upon real-world mathematics, has generated a lot of enthusiasm among math teachers: more than 25,000 teachers currently download materials linked to each NUMB3RS episode, Roylance reports.

--- Claudia Clark

Issue 5 : April 2006

Local News

Mathematical Competition in Modeling Team gets Meritorious Award
The results of the 2006 undergraduate Mathematical Competition in Modeling are in. This year's team from CU-Denver received a Meritorious Award. This is the highest ranking for CU-Denver since 1989. It places us in the top 18% of the 1000 teams that competed worldwide. Of those who worked on Problem A (one of the two problems that a team could work on), only 6 teams placed above ours (MIT, Harvard, CU-Boulder, Carroll College, and 2 Chinese Schools). Please take a moment to congratulate the undergraduates who competed for us this year. They were Jeremy Noe, Leah Grant, and Michael Morrison. Also, thanks to everyone who helped out with this year's competition.

Undergraduate Committee is still looking for an undergraduate student representative
If you are interested in representing the undergraduate math majors on the department's Undergraduate Committee (meets every other Tuesday from 1130 - 1) please let the chair Bill Briggs (wbriggs@math.cudenver.edu) know.

Awards party coming on May 5th
Our annual awards celebration for undergraduate and graduate students is scheduled for Friday, May 5th. Keep the date open. More details next issue, but look out for announcements at the end of the April.

Math News

"All Square," by Ivars Peterson. Science News, 11 March 2006, pages 152-153.
Manjul Bhargava (Princeton University) and Jonathan P. Hanke (Duke University) have proved a result in number theory whose history goes back a long way. In 1770, Lagrange showed that every positive integer could be written as the sum of at most four squares. In the early 1900s Ramanujan found 53 other sums involving multiples of squares, called quadratic forms (for example, w2 + 2x2 + 2y2 + 7z2) that can be used to represent every positive integer. One question is if there are other quadratic forms that represent all integers, and another is if there is a way to test if a given quadratic form does represent all positive integers. Bhargava has found other quadratic forms, adding to a list that mathematicians for more than 50 years had thought was complete. In 1993, John H. Conway (Princeton) and his student William Scheeberger found that a certain class of quadratic forms could be tested on numbers no larger than 15 and conjectured that a similar test could be found for a much broader class of quadratic forms. Bhargava and Hanke have now proved that conjecture (which involves a test on numbers no larger than 290). Bhargava presented the result at the International Conference on Number Theory and Mathematical Physics held at SASTRA University in India in December 2005. A sidebar in the article on Bhargava states that his mother, a math professor, encouraged his interest in mathematics and introduced him to the tabla, an Indian musical instrument. Bhargava compared patterns in the two: "The goal of every number theorist and every tabla player is to combine these patterns, carefully and creatively, so that they flow as a sequence of ideas, tell a story, and form a complete and beautiful piece.

--- Mike Breen

Issue 6 : May 2006

Local News

Harvey Greenberg and Rich Lundgren announce their retirement plans
Harvey and Rich have announced that they will be retiring in the next few years. This early announcement gives the department a chance to plan for their replacements, but as we all know, they can not really be replaced. According to their phase-out agreements, Harvey will be teaching a reduced load (1 course a semester) starting in the Fall, and Rich will start his reduced load the following year.

Personnel Changes in the Fall
Barbara Bailey has taken a position at San Diego State University and will be leaving us. Bill Briggs will be taking a leave next academic year. Julian Langou has accepted our offer and will be joining us next Fall as an assistant professor. Julian is coming from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. He has a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from INSA, Toulouse, France.

New Chairs for the Undergraduate and Graduate Committees to take over in the Fall
Steve Billups (see his spotlight in the archives) will be the new chair of the Graduate Committee and yours truly will chair the Undergraduate Committee. These assignments were announced at the Department's monthly meeting in May.

Megan Sawyer to represent UCDHSC at national mathematical competition.
Megan Sawyer (see her spotlight in the archives) was selected to represent UCDHSC at the US National Collegiate Mathematics Championship which is the "finals" of the Problem Solving Competition (Problem of the Month) that we have been holding this year. Megan is being sent to Knoxville, Tennessee in August for the championship competition, which will be one of the activities of the Mathematical Association of America's MathFest 2006 (Annual summer meeting of the MAA). We all wish Megan the best of luck.

Undergraduate Committee is looking for undergraduate student representatives for the Fall semester
If you are interested in representing the undergraduate math majors on the department's Undergraduate Committee (meeting time to be determined in the Fall) please let the chair Bill Cherowitzo (william.cherowitzo@cudenver.edu) know.

Awards party coming on May 5th
Our annual awards celebration for undergraduate and graduate students is scheduled for Friday, May 5th, 5-9 in 470 CU-Denver Bldg. Food, drink and entertainment (provided by Mike Kawai) as well as recognition awards will make this a rewarding (groan) experience. Please come.

Math News

"Gauss's Day of Reckoning," by Brian Hayes. American Scientist Online, May-June 2006.
One of the more famous anecdotes about Carl Friedrich Gauss tells of the young schoolboy who astounded his teacher by using a clever trick to sum the numbers from 1 to 100. Writer Brian Hayes developed a few questions about this story, however: how did the teacher know that Gauss's solution was correct, and how did the other students attempt to solve the problem? Hayes's hunt for answers led him through a literature search to a surprising conclusion: Gauss's tale is an accumulation of embellishments on an originally plain story. The earliest version of the anecdote, written just after Gauss died, mentions a quickly solved arithmetic summation, but no details about the numbers involved or Gauss's method of solution. Since then, different authors have inserted their own numbers to make the story interesting and plausible. While Hayes does not criticize embellishment as an important tool of storytellers, he does worry that inaccuracies in the anecdote may discourage future math students. In the absence of a smart, Gauss-style solution, he says, students who must solve problems "the hard way" may doubt their talent and ability to succeed.
--- Lisa DeKeukelaere

Blogs

My name is Sabrina Khan. I am a graduating senior at the University of CO-Denver, majoring in Applied Mathematics and Economics. I was born and raised in Bangladesh and started college here in Denver after finishing high school in Bangladesh. I will be attending graduate school at the Harvard School of Public Health for a master's in Biostatistics this coming Fall 2006.
(we will shortly have a link to Sabrina's blog here - ed.).

Vol. 2 Issue 1 : September 2006

Local News

Several Faculty on Leave ...
the department is stretched a little thin this year with Bill Briggs, Steve Sain and Tolya Puhalskii (until January) all taking leaves and Jan Mandel on sabbatical. To fill in some of the gaps, we are happy to welcome Kathe Bjork (in Statistics) and Nathan Kurtz (not new, but he's in an instructor position this year).

Mathfest 2006 ...
the summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) was held in Knoxville, TN this year. Senior Megan Sawyer went to the meeting to participate in the US National Collegiate Mathematics Championship, the finals of the Problem Solving Competition. Megan talks about her experience there in this month's student page. Instructor Mike Kawai also attended the conference ... but has not yet sent me the report he promised (hint, hint).

The Undergraduate Committee ...
held a retreat on September 8. Several things were discussed and the committee identified four major issues to address this year. The issues are
  1. Advising,
  2. Career Support for Math Majors,
  3. Undergraduate Research Opportunities, and
  4. Improving Teaching Assistant Training.
Keep posted for news coming out of these initiatives.

Undergraduate Representative to the Undergraduate Committee ...
We wish to thank Megan Sawyer for volunteering to serve as the undergraduate representative to the Undergraduate Committee. If you have concerns that you would like the committee to consider, please contact Megan (or me).

Math News

Coverage of 2006 Fields Medals, August 2006
The startling announcement that Gregory Perelman turned down the Fields Medal made the 2006 International Congress of Mathematicians, held in August in Madrid, Spain, into a major news event. The story of Perelman, a reclusive Russian mathematician whose revolutionary work in geometric analysis has confirmed the legendary Poincaré Conjecture, transfixed people the world over and brought mathematics into newspapers, magazines, web sites, and television and radio broadcasts. In many cases the coverage neglected the other three Fields Medalists, Andrei Okounkov, Terence Tao, and Wendelin Werner, although the media in the cities where they work and in their home countries (Russia, Australia, and France, respectively) ran stories about them. The presence at the ICM opening ceremonies of the King of Spain---who attended to present the Fields Medals to Okounkov, Tao, and Werner---ensured plenty of coverage within the Spanish media. For his part, Perelman stayed out of the limelight and was reported by one newspaper to have spent the opening day of the Congress watching television. "I do not think anything that I say can be of the slightest public interest," he told the Telegraph newspaper. "I know that self-promotion happens a lot and if people want to do that, good luck to them, but I do not regard it as a positive thing." Some of the coverage portrayed Perelman as a mad genius, but much of it expressed admiration for his idealism and indifference to worldly gains. The unprecedented amount of coverage of the 2006 Fields Medals contrasts sharply with that for the 2002 medals, which many media outlets passed over with silence.
--- Allyn Jackson

Archimede's Palimpsest
"X-rays uncover hidden writings of Archimedes," by Terence Chea (Associated Press). The Seattle Times, 6 August 2006;
"Archimedes' Ancient Works Deciphered." WBBM News Radio 780 in Chicago, 2 August 2006;
"Revealing secrets of Archimedes," by Lisa M. Krieger. Mercury News 3 August 2006;
"Eureka! Ancient works by Archimedes rediscovered," by Genevieve Roberts. The Independent, 3 August 2006.
"Brilliant X-rays Reveal Fruits of a Brilliant Mind," by Robert F. Service. Science, 11 August 2006, page 744.

Media all over the globe covered the 11-day project in which researchers used Stanford University's Linear Accelerator to uncover with powerful X-ray beams the previously hidden writings and diagrams of the ancient Greek mathematician Archimedes. Some of the work was revealed in real time during a San Francisco Exploratorium live event and webcast on 4 August 2006 (done in collaboration with Stanford University and the Walters Art Museum, Baltimore). The technique has revealed portions of the 174-page manuscript known as the "Archimedes Palimpsest," the only copies of his treatises on flotation, gravity and mathematics, written by a scribe on parchment but obscured by scraping and other writings over the centuries. (A review of a recent translation of Archimedes' writings appeared in the May 2005 issue of the AMS Notices.)
--- Annette Emerson

Benjamin Franklin and SUDOKU
"Benjamin Franklin hat's erfunden (Benjamin Franklin's got it)," by George Szpiro. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 30 July 2006.

This article discusses Benjamin Franklin's version of Sudoku. Apparently the founding father whiled away his time at the Pennsylvania Assembly filling in 8x8 squares with numbers. A recent article in the Proceedings of the Royal Society analyzes Franklin's squares.
--- Allyn Jackson


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