An Award!
Student Presentations
Sampson Lecture
Math Council Activities
Math Camp Fun
Math Seminars This Semester
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Welcome to the third edition of the Bates College Mathematics Department Newsletter!

An Award!   contributed by Meredith Greer

At MathFest, the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), Warren Johnson of Bates College was awarded the Lester R. Ford award for expository writing in The American Mathematical Monthly, for his article The Curious History of Faa di Bruno's Formula. For more details on Warren and the reasons he was chosen for this prize, see the MAA's page on writing prizes.

Student Presentations   contributed by Eric Towne and Bonnie Shulman

The week before Thanksgiving break is filled with math student activity! Students make the following presentations as part of their work toward year-long senior theses.

November 17:

Aimee Grimmelmann speaks on "Modeling the Influenza Outbreak of 1918"

November 18:

Jeff Kazin speaks on "Rational Points on Elliptic Curves"

November 19:

Tory Peterson speaks on "A New Twist: Different Models for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge Failure"

November 20:

Seamus Collins speaks on "Modeling Molecular Evolution"

Additionally, Tory presented her work at the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Research Conference in Los Angeles, November 14-15. She won a Gold Ribbon for her poster, which was categorized as Excellent.

Mike Lopez and Jer Brown, who are working toward a one-semester thesis, will present their work during a poster session on Wednesday, December 3, at 4:00p.m. Mike is studying statistical analysis of baseball performance; Jer is studying Bessel functions.

Sampson Lecture   contributed by Meredith Greer
David Haines, De Witt Sumners, and Meredith Greer

De Witt Sumners of Florida State University was our guest speaker this fall for the Bates College Mathematics Department's annual Sampson Lecture. Dr. Sumners visited Bates on October 8. He spoke in the afternoon on DNA topology. His public lecture, delivered in the evening, was titled "Calculating the Secrets of Life: Mathematics in Biology and Medicine."

Math Council Activities   contributed by Bonnie Shulman and Grace Fei Liu
  • On Monday, October 27, we shared a dinner catered by Bates Dining and watched Fermat's Last Tango - a musical!

  • On November 8, a group of students dined out and watched the play Proof, by David Auburn, at the Portland Stage Company. The following review is by Grace Fei Liu.

    The play Proof shows us an elegant and humorous story of family relationships and the vulnerability of trust. It has a complex plot. It starts out with the protagonist, Catherine, talking to her dad (a great and famous mathematician) on the early morning of her birthday. But then we learn that her father is dead and the funeral is tomorrow! It immediately draws our attention.
    The major surprise comes at the end of the first act, when Catherine reveals that in fact it was she (and not her father) who wrote the Proof, which is the subject of the play. She must convince her lover (and student of her father's) that she worked out the proof. Unfortunately, Hal does not give her enough trust, which is heartbreaking for her.
    The play is full of reversals and recognitions. Proof is a 20th century melodrama, a moving story with a complex plot, based on mathematics and its culture.
Math Camp Fun   photos contributed by Lucia Tiererova

Math Camp 2003 involved lots of time and lots of proofs - but also heavy doses of juggling and other games (SET, anyone?). Pictures come from the classroom, and from the class picnic. Click on any to see a larger version.

Tanya Nate Luciska
Jon SET cards Jimmy
Laura Henry Joanna

Math Seminars This Semester   contributed by the presenters

September 17:

Don McCarthy talks about the Pigeonhole Principle.

September 24:

Bonnie Shulman of Bates College gives a talk titled "Wallis and Newton Share Their Recipes for Pi".

October 1:

Bonnie Shulman follows up with the talk "Newton's Method: Getting to the Root of Things".

November 7:

David Romano of Colby College gives this semester's CBB Mathematics Lecture at Bowdoin College: "From numbers to curves and back: a quick introduction to elliptic curves".

This page was last updated November 17, 2003. Email the current editor if you have comments, suggestions ... or a submission for the next issue!