Fall 2013 ACCA Mathematics Lecture Series

Tuesday, October 29 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Meyer Science Center, Lecture Hall, room 145

Speaker:  Francis Su, Ph.D., Professor, Harvey Mudd College

 Francis Su Photo

Francis Edward Su is the Benediktsson-Karwa Professor of Mathematics at Harvey Mudd College.  He received his B.S. in Mathematics from the University of Texas at Austin and his Ph.D. from Harvard University.  He is president-elect of the Mathematical Association of America.  His research is in geometric combinatorics and applications to the social sciences, and he has co-authored numerous papers with undergraduates.  He also has a passion for teaching and popularizing mathematics.  From the Mathematical Association of America, he received the 2001 Hasse Prize for expository writing, and the 2004 Alder Award and the 2013 Haimo Award for distinguished teaching.  He authors the popular Math Fun Facts website and iPhone app.  His hobbies include songwriting, gardening, photography, and theology.  Just like mathematics, these are modes of creative expression that divinely blend structure and freedom, truth and beauty, reflection and action.

Lecture Titles and Abstracts

5:00 "Voting in Agreeable Societies"

When does a majority exist? How does the geometry of the political spectrum influence the outcome? What does mathematics have to say about how people behave? When mathematical objects have a social interpretation, the associated results have social applications.  We will show how math can be used to model people's preferences and classical results about convex sets can be used in the analysis of voting in "agreeable" societies.  This talk also features research with undergraduates.

7:00 "Splitting the Rent, Keeping the Peace"

How do you divide the rent among roommates fairly?  My friend's dilemma was a question that mathematics could answer, both elegantly and constructively. We show how it and other "fair division" questions --- the most famous of which is the problem of Steinhaus: how do you cut a cake fairly? --- motivate a host of mathematical ideas.  They provide excellent examples of how mathematics can address an old class of problems in new ways, and conversely, how problems in the social sciences can motivate new mathematics--- where topology, geometry, and combinatorics meet social applications, and where research by undergraduates has played a big role.


Homecoming Department Open House

Saturday, October 5 from 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Meyer Science Center, Room 184

Bob Brabenec

All Math/CS Department graduates and their families are invited to our annual Homecoming Department Open House.  This year we are honoring Dr. Brabenec for his 50 years of distinguished service to Wheaton College.  Please stop by, enjoy a continental breakfast, and extend your congratulations and appreciation to Dr. Brabenec.  Register for homecoming and our department open house at the alumni website >>.


A Hitchhiker’s Guide to Supercomputers and Big Data

Thursday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m.

Meyer Science Center, Lecture Hall, room 145

Speaker: Dr. Pete Beckman of Argonne National Laboratory

Join Dr. Pete Beckman of Argonne National Laboratory in this general audience lecture on how supercomputers and big data are changing our lives.  Computer simulation and modeling are being used to inform key climate-related policy questions for our nation, understand brain aneurysms, design more fuel efficient jet engines, and explore the influence of dark energy in the universe. The presentation will include an overview of computing, from simple computers, Moore's law, and physics-based games such as Angry Birds to the design of one of the world's fastest computers, Mira, recently installed at Argonne National Laboratory.  We will also look into the future of big data, with things like Watson, the Jeopardy! winning computer, augmented reality, self-driving cars, and the quantified self.

Dr. Beckman, a leader in the development of high-performance supercomputers, is a Senior Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory, Director of Exascale Technology and Computing Institute, and Co-Director of Northwestern-Argonne Institute for Science and Engineering. 

Mira Supercomputer at Argonne


2013 ACCA Mathematics Lecture Series

Tuesday, April 9 from 5:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Meyer Science Center, Room 145

Speaker: Melanie Matchett Wood, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin

Melanie Wood JMM 2011While a high school student, Melanie became the first female American to make the U.S. International Math Olympiad Team.  At Duke University, she won a Gates Cambridge Scholarship, Fulbright fellowship, and a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship, became the first American woman to be named a Putnam Fellow, and also pursued her interest in theater.  Melanie received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Princeton University in 2009 under the supervision of Manjul Bhargava, and was a Szego Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 2009-2011.  Melanie is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and an American Institute of Mathematics Five-Year Fellow.  Her research is in number theory and algebraic geometry.

Lecture Titles and Abstracts

5:00 "The Chemistry of Primes"

We are familiar with the prime numbers as those integers which cannot be factored into smaller integers, but if we consider systems of numbers larger than the integers, the primes may indeed factor in those larger systems.  We discuss various questions mathematicians ask about how primes may factor in larger systems, talk about both classical results and current research on the topic, and give a sense of the kind of tools needed to tackle these questions.

6:00 Pizza Dinner

7:00 "Amongst enough chaos, can we find order?"

Suppose we are given a large grid of points colored either red or blue.  Can we always find a rectangle with all four vertices colored the same color?  If that's too easy, then can we always find a square with all of its vertices the same color?  This is a hard question, and it turns out the way to solve it starts by making the question even more general (so harder!).  Given a big enough grid, colored in some chaotic manner that we have no control over with finitely many colors, when can we find a monochromatic version of some structure?


Homecoming Department Breakfast

Saturday, October 8 from 8:30 - 10:00 a.m.

Science Center, Room 184

Fall leavesAll department graduates, their spouses, and especially their children (future department majors) are invited to our annual Department Homecoming Continental Breakfast. Between now and homecoming, please contact your Math and CS major classmates. Tell them to meet you at the department breakfast. We want to see all of you. Please register for homecoming and our department breakfast at the alumni website >>.


Broadcasting in the Digital Age – Where Radio & Computers Meet

Tuesday, September 20th
3:30-4:30 p.m.
Science Center - Room 184

Presenter: Charles Jacobson - BS Wheaton ’80 (Applied Mathematics and Computer Science), MS Univ. of Minnesota ‘82 (Computer Science) Missionary since 1986 with HCJB Global, a worldwide media and healthcare ministry. Currently Manager of Engineering & Development at the HCJB Global Technology Center in Elkhart, Indiana

Summary: Radio technology (i.e. wireless) is without a doubt changing the way, not to mention where, we do computing. So how is computing changing the way we do radio? This seminar is a survey of the key computational technologies that are transforming traditional analog media, with a particular focus on radio broadcasting. Topics include sampling, perceptual coding, forward error correction, orthogonal frequency division multiplexing (OFDM), and digital signal processing. We will also explore the place of broadcast technologies in an ever-connected, on-demand media landscape.

Media Center