The Sampson Lecture
  Posters in Seattle
  Math Meet at Colby
  Math Lunch
  CBB and Computational Seminars
  Math Council



Welcome to the Bates College Mathematics Department Newsletter!

The Sampson Lecture: Lisette de Pillis   photo courtesy of Meredith Greer
Pallavi, Meredith, Lisette, Grace, David, and Peter, after the evening talk

Professor Lisette de Pillis, of Harvey Mudd College, delivered this year's Sampson Lecture on October 13. She gave an afternoon talk titled "How to Model Cancer Growth and New Treatment Strategies: A Perspective of Cooperation" and an evening public lecture on "Cancer Growth and Treatment Modeling".

All of us in the math department, and those who came to the lectures, thoroughly enjoyed meeting Lisette. We also had a great time hearing, and participating in, her talks!

Posters in Seattle   article and photos courtesy of Rachel Philio '06 and Elizabeth Sheridan-Rossi '06
Elizabeth    Enjoying Seattle    Rachel

From November 3-6th, we had the pleasure of going to the annual Sigma Xi student conference, which was held at the Westin Hotel in Seattle. Professor Bonnie Shulman came with us and we all stayed at the Westin Hotel, which offered some amazing views of Seattle - unfortunately, not so much if you were only on the eighth floor.

We attended the conference as student poster presenters. There were also oral presentations, but most of these were done by graduate students. After setting up our posters Friday morning, we were responsible for being by them for an hour and a half that afternoon to answer questions and be judged. There was another judging session on Saturday morning, but other than that we had a lot of free time. There were scheduled events all weekend, as well as lots of networking, but (with Bonnie’s permission!) we decided to pick and choose what we attended. While most of the students at the conference did science-based research, there were a handful of us math majors who got to know one another. Additionally, we met some kooky girls from Nebraska at the airport, whom we ended up hanging out with much of the weekend.

The conference as a whole was an amazing experience. We each presented our thesis work (thus far), which gave us a chance to test ourselves on what we really know and feel comfortable with. We had also never been to Seattle before, and some down time allowed us to check out the Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and the Experience Music Project – while squeezing some shopping in between…

By applying for the Hughes Travel Grant, we will both be reimbursed for the costs of the trip. That said, if students are given the chance to attend a conference in the future they should definitely take advantage of it, because most likely they will end up having an amazing experience.

Editor's Note: Rachel and Elizabeth made an additional poster presentation in the math department as part of completing their senior thesis projects. Several other students presented thesis research on topics such as "Lecture Hall Partitions: Better Than Your Average Lecture" and "Are There Chaotic Attractors in Financial Markets?"
Math Meet at Colby   review courtesy of Michael Wilson '07

Bates students Nate Stambaugh, Cassandra Kirkland, Emmanuel Drabo, Ben Reed, and Michael Wilson participated in the annual Colby Math Meet, Saturday November 5th. Professor Pallavi Jayawant chaperoned the trip.

Ben and I reflected that when we'd told friends that we were going to a “math meet”, they responded, “oh, well, you must be really smart, then.” Not necessarily. Though we're good students, and intelligent, neither Ben nor I finished a single problem in the near-Putnam-complexity problem set assigned to the participants. And not so elite, either; it was fine to participate without working to be recognized as better than the others. The appeal for me, in fact, was the sense of community in math, which the morning in Waterville offered well.

The Colby math meet is an annual invitation to do math with other students, offered to undergraduate students from area schools, their professors, a handful of graduate students. The students split into mixed-college teams and are given two hours to work a set of problems, which require innovative solutions or proof drawn from diverse topics in math, ranging from combinatorics to analysis to geometry. The graduate students circulate to help tease out ideas, as the groups collaborate on solutions. After the time is up, students from the groups present their solutions or proofs to each other. The presentations are refereed by students from the opposing teams, and the professors allocate points for good solutions/proofs and good refereeing, to be tabulated after all problems have been covered. This structure, along with our background with the subject and our habit to take joy in it, made for fast, friendly, and fairly deep connections between students, and created a cool charge of competition in the room. Colby professor John Cullinan (Bates '99) organized this year's meet.

Bates shone intermittently in the presentation portion of the meet. Nate presented well and frequently, with enthusiasm and precision that aren't unusual to him, while Ben stayed seated and I misquoted the Mean Value Theorem, with my own enthusiasm - it's fine, we enjoyed the people there. Emmanuel presented a proof of area optimization of a triangle inscribed in an oval, and Cassandra presented on a pattern of number. I was generally happy with the other students' presentations. I was impressed by how much vocabulary and style we have in common though we've been educated in different institutions, and that most students presented with a sense of respect for the others in the room, while maintaining healthy competition. Professor Jayawant actively commented on the presentations, in her role as a judge, with the other schools’ professors.

The event was colored, additionally, by excellent food supplied by professor Cullinan: in the morning, he provided donut holes, coffee and other drinks; and then, for lunch, he placed individual orders with a local sandwich shop, and picked up the sandwiches for us while we finalized our solutions, tab included, so that we could eat while preparing for our presentations. Also, each school brought knick knacks to swap as prizes and keepsakes for the event. Professor Jayawant brought Hathorn Hall Bates mugs, and other schools brought their own mugs, hats, and T-shirts. Ben traded his new Hathorn mug for a mug and a four-pointed hat, called a “took”, from Bishops “Université”. The trades serve as a good memento to the event, because they symbolize friendly open exchange between the colleges, situated around Mathematics.

Math Lunch   photo courtesy of Michael Wilson '07
Math faculty and students eating lunch together: every Thursday at Commons

CBB and Computational Seminars   contributed by the presenters

Bates hosted this semester's CBB (Colby-Bates-Bowdoin) seminar. The three math departments get together for this seminar each semester, with one school hosting and a second school providing the speaker. This semester, Fernando Gouvêa of Colby College spoke on Friday, November 11. His talk "Was Cantor Surprised?" looked into some of the actual history and correspondence of Cantor, leading to a better understanding of Cantor's quote "I see it, but I don't believe it!" in regard to one of his cardinality theorem proofs.

Instead of our usual departmental seminars, the math faculty are taking on a new project this year. Several times each semester, we meet for a computational seminar. Our goals range from gaining a better understanding of the many technologically-based projects our colleagues use in classes, to re-examining our current curriculum with a focus on how best to continue using, or incorporate new, technology. Our fall computational seminar dates and topics are listed below.

September 21:

Meredith Greer: "Maple and other math software in classes with applications", discussing mostly Maple as used in Differential Equations, but also Matlab and Excel in that class and Math Modeling

October 5:

Melinda Harder: "Simulations, Computing, and Programming (?) in Probability and Mathematical Statistics", a tutorial on Minitab and projects from Melinda's classes

October 26:

Eric Towne: "Maple: Programming and the Networks Package", working through a Maple lab from the Graph Algorithms class

November 9:

Eric Towne: "Excel and Chaos", using Excel to explore chaotic behavior, as in one of the labs from the Great Ideas in Mathematics class

Math Council  

Math Council kicked off this semester with a yummy Ice Cream Social! Math faculty, majors, and other students gathered on October 14, from 6-8 p.m. Math Council especially invited students from Calculus 1, Calculus 2, and Great Ideas in Mathematics so they could find out more about what it's like to earn a major or secondary concentration in math.

This page was last updated December 2, 2005. Email the current editor if you have comments, suggestions ... or a submission for the next issue!