Fall 2006 Talks

October 3: Justin Fitzpatrick
Title: To Deal or not To Deal: That is the Question
Abstract: Getting on a game show is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so you had better go prepared! In this talk, we will prepare you specifically to play correctly on the wildly popular game shows “Deal or No Deal” and “The Price is Right.” We introduce the concept of expected value, a concept that is extremely integral to determining correct strategy for many games, and then apply it and other game-theoretic concepts to these two game shows. You will learn when to deal, when not to deal, when to spin again, and when to let the next person spin! And, since there is no substitute for experience, we will allow four lucky students to COME ON DOWN and compete for prizes!!

October 10: Adam Dailey-McIlrath
Title: Hustle and Flow: the politics and mathematics of the Poincare conjecture
Abstract: A reclusive and eccentric Russian mathematician has solved one of the most important problems in Mathematics. He appears to be in line for a $1,000,000 prize, but is someone trying to hustle him? In this talk I will tell you more about this intriguing person and his million dollar drama, the problem he solved, and why hot chicken helped him solve it.

October 24: Alex Popkin
Title: Lewis Carroll: Author, Mathematician, Baker
Abstract: The Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was one of the most popular children’s authors of all times. He was also a great mathematician who made many important contributions in the field of symbolic logic. Carroll wrote extensively on mathematical games and puzzles. He also included some of the same ideas in his famous novels and poems. In this talk we’ll explore Carroll’s mathematical ideas through examples taken from different writings.

October 31: Matt Calef
Title: Complexity and Mathematics
Abstract: Can complicated things in the real world be broken down into simple things? If the answer is yes, what tools are available to us, and how good a tool is mathematics? Do complicated mathematical systems provide a good model for complexity in the real world? In this talk we shall explore several examples of complexity in mathematical models and consider how mathematics may succeed or fail as a predictive and descriptive tool for the real world.

November 7: Fumiko Futamura
Title: Intersections and Parallels, how an artist sees mathematics
Abstract: Mathematics has always been lumped with the sciences. But can mathematics be considered an art? Certainly there have been many intersections of math and art throughout history. Renaissance perspective inspired Desargues, one of the founders of projective geometry. Felix Klein’s mathematical models inspired great artists like Barbara Hepworth, Henry Moore, and Man Ray. As an artist turned mathematician, I will try to show you not only the intersections but some parallels I’ve noticed in the learning processes and creative processes of math and art.

November 16: Carl Cowen, Professor & School of Science Dean, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, President, Mathematical Association of America
Title: Rearranging the Alternating Harmonic Series
Abstract: The commutative property of addition is so familiar to all of us as school children that it comes as a shock to those studying college level mathematics that NOT all ‘natural extensions’ of the law are true! One of the first instances that we see the failure of an extended commutative law of addition is in infinite series. Often in the introduction to infinite series in calculus, one sees Riemann’s Theorem: A conditionally convergent series can be rearranged to sum to any number. Unfortunately, the usual proof of this theorem does not indicate what the sum of a given rearrangement is. In this talk, we will examine the best known conditionally convergent series, the alternating harmonic series, and show how to find the sum of any rearrangement in which the positive terms and the negative terms are each in their usual order.

November 28: Tara Davis
Title: An Introduction to Group Theory, and Some Applications
Abstract: Group Theory is a branch of mathematics which can essentially be described as the study of symmetries. In this talk, we will define and give many examples of groups, as well as describe some of the real-world applications of group theory. We will also discuss Fermat’s Last Theorem, and how after 350+ years, group theory helped Andrew Wiles solve it and become a mathematical hero.