The Sampson Lecture: Jeff Weeks
  Senior Thesis Presentations
  Visiting - and Traveling - Talks
  Departmental Seminars
  Math Council
  Other Social Events
  New Classes

Welcome to the Bates College Mathematics Department Newsletter!

The Sampson Lecture: Jeff Weeks   photos courtesy of Chip Ross
Dr. Weeks presents to a large crowd in the Filene Room   Meredith Greer and Jeff Weeks, after the evening lecture

This year's Sampson Lecturer was Dr. Jeff Weeks. On October 28, Dr. Weeks gave two fantastic talks: an afternoon workshop titled "A Beginner's Tour of Curved Space" and an evening public lecture titled "The Shape of Space". We include the abstracts below.

A Beginner's Tour of Curved Space
Is the universe curved? How can one visualize curved space? The audience will first construct physical models introducing the concept of a curved surface. Interactive 3D graphics will then extend the concept to curved 3-dimensional space. The insights gained will make it easy to see how measurements of cosmic microwave radiation are now revealing the curvature of the universe.
For math and science undergraduates, as well as faculty. This workshop complements the evening presentation, with only a tiny overlap.
The Shape of Space
When we look out on a clear night, the universe seems infinite. Yet this infinity might be an illusion. During the first half of the presentation, computer games will introduce the concept of a "multiconnected universe". Interactive 3D graphics will then take the viewer on a tour of several possible shapes for space. Finally, we'll see how recent satellite data provide tantalizing clues to the true shape of our universe.
The only prerequisites for this talk are curiosity and imagination. For middle school and high school students, people interested in astronomy, and all members of the Bates community.

The Sampson Lecture was a delightful time for all. It was also one of MANY great talks this semester. Read on for more!
Senior Thesis Presentations   contributed by the presenters

Our senior thesis students present at the end of each semester of their thesis. This semester, all presentations are in the form of talks, each approximately an hour long. The following titles show the diversity of their topics; the talks show the students' enthusiasm for their subjects.

November 29:

"Zermelo-Frankel set theory in the Scheme programming language", by Nick Violi.

December 1:

"Integral equations and inverse problems", by Heather Bracken.

December 7:

"Chaos and Cryptography", by Dave Alie.

December 8:

"Symmetric Designs and Difference Sets", by Oliver Gjoneski.

December 8:

"Riemann Zeta, p-adically speaking", by Greg Jukins.

December 9:

"How do we define Julia sets?", by Chi Nguyen.

December 9:

"BSE and Bifurcations", by Jennifer Hanley.

Visiting - and Traveling - Talks   contributed by the presenters

September 28:

World-renowned statistician Herman Chernoff teaches Melinda Harder's Probability class. He speaks from his consulting experience about a waterworks system and all the legal and statistical issues surrounding it.

October 18:

Joseph Fehribach of Worcester Polytechnic Institute gives inside hints about graduate school at WPI, shares lunch, and talks about "The Nonlinear Elastic String Equations: Graduate Math at WPI".

October 29:

Veronika Furst of The University of Colorado - Boulder introduces the students to wavelets: "Your very first wavelets talk".

November 2:

Arthur Benjamin of Harvey Mudd College talks about counting with Fibonacci numbers and shows magic tricks with numbers in "The magic of Fibonacci".

November 10:

Steve Fisk of Bowdoin College tells our Great Ideas in Mathematics class (MATH 110) about his work on the Art Gallery Theorem. Later that day, he gives a seminar to the math department about questions that can be answered with polynomials: "Points in polygons and other polynomials" .

November 12:

Meredith Greer of Bates College gives this semester's CBB Mathematics Lecture at Bowdoin, titled "Prion Proliferation: Modeling, Analysis and Impact".

Departmental Seminars   contributed by the presenters

Seminars, held a few times each semester, give math faculty a chance to explain our research and mathematical interests to each other. We also use seminars as an opportunity to work through new problems and gain feedback from others.

September 22:

Peter Wong: "How do you recognize a fiber bundle when you see one?"

October 6:

John Rhodes: "Algebraic statistics and tensor rank"

October 13:

Pallavi Jayawant: "Graphs and orthogonal polynomials"

Math Council   contributed by Nate Stambaugh

The Math Council has held various relaxing and social events this semester, with hopes of having one more event during finals week. On Friday October 8th (during Parent's Weekend) we had a pizza dinner gathering in the math lounge, where students, faculty, and even a couple of parents socialized and played games. There have also been a few meetings between math majors and students enrolled in a number of math classes. The goal of these meetings was to provide a setting for students and majors to share different perspectives on the math department here at Bates. We are planning to have a relaxed lunch in the math lounge on Monday, December 13th.

Left: Rachel Philio enjoys pizza and company at the October 8 dinner.

Other Social Events   photo courtesy of Chip Ross
Dinner with Ed Burger

We have had several visitors this semester! Ed Burger of Williams College came to Bates in October to run a workshop on Quantitative Literacy Across the Curriculum. The night before, he met several math faculty and students for Thai take-out.

Veronika Furst, who gave a talk on wavelets to a large and varied crowd of math students, met with SWIMS members for a long lunch, where we chatted about women in graduate school and mathematics.

November 6 was the annual math meet at Colby College. Bates students Emmanuel Drabo, Cassandra Kirkland, Nate Stambaugh, and faculty members Pallavi Jayawant and Peter Wong, attended. Nate even came home with a prize!

Our newest math class, Great Ideas in Mathematics, held a Heart of Mathematics fair on December 1. There was a huge turnout, including LOTS of students as well as visiting mathematicians from other Bates classes and nearby schools. Students from the class presented posters and demonstrations on topics including infinity, codes, fractals, chaos, voting, mathematics of art and music, and more.

New Classes   photo courtesy of Chip Ross

The Math Department offers several new classes this year, and we are excited about all of them. During the Fall Semester, we have Great Ideas in Mathematics, in which students "contemplate some of the greatest and most intriguing creations of human thought, from Pythagoras to the fourth dimension, from chaos to symmetry" (taken from the course description). This Winter Semester, senior seminar students will contemplate wavelets for the ALMOST-first time, thanks to Veronika Furst's talk this fall. And during Short Term, students will reap the benefits of work last summer by Leslie Milk '05 and Nate Stambaugh '06, who collaborated with Chip Ross and Meredith Greer to create the unit "Roller Coasters: Theory, Design, and Properties". (We thank the Howard Hughes Medical Institute for funding for this project.)

Left: Nate Stambaugh presents a rolling ball roller coaster model at a poster session celebrating student research projects.

This page was last updated December 7, 2004. Email the current editor if you have comments, suggestions ... or a submission for the next issue!