Spring 2008 Talks

Speaker: Justin Fitzpatrick
Title: Combinatorics: Pascal’s Triangle and More
Abstract: Ever wonder where the numbers in Pascal’s Triangle come from, or why they work out so nicely? In this talk, we’ll look at some basic techniques of counting by combinations and permutations and see how they lead us to some interesting results including the binomial theorem, which is the source of the numbers in Pascal’s famous triangle.

Speaker: Tara Davis (Tuesday, February 19)
Title: Sudoku!
Abstract: Let’s play Sudoku! Sudoku is a number puzzle that has recently become popular in America. It is a generalized version of a centuries old mathematical puzzle called Latin squares. In this talk we will discuss some history of and strategies for playing Sudoku. We will also look closer at how to engineer Sudoku puzzles, and focus on how to ensure a unique solution. Finally, we will explore some of the symmetry and mathematics of Sudoku squares.

Speaker: Abey Lopez
Title: Number Theory
Abstract: In this talk we will discuss some elementary notions from Number Theory. This field is called the “Queen of Mathematics”, perhaps because of the beauty and simplicity of the results in this theory. The central concept is that of congruences, which was introduced by the legendary german mathematician Gauss (1777-1855) in his book “Disquisitiones Arithmeticae”, published in latin in 1801. After reviewing some basic properties of congruences, we will look at three interesting and very important Theorems due to Euler (1707-1783), Fermat (1601-1665) and Wilson (1741-1793).

Speaker: Derek Bruff
Title: The Incredible Shrinking Data
Abstract: In Clarksburg, West Virginia, the FBI maintains a database of over 200 million sets of fingerprints. That’s about 4000 hard drives full of information! How does the FBI store all this data? They shrink it, of course, just as you might do to a song when you store it on your computer as an MP3 or to a photo you take with your digital camera. In this talk, we’ll look at wavelets, the mathematical tools behind the data compression used by MP3s, digital photos, and the FBI.

Speaker: Justin Fitzpatrick
Title: Calculus by (counter)Example
Abstract: The processes of computing limits, derivatives, and integrals, first seen in calculus, give us some very unusual constructions. In this talk, we’ll see a figure with finite volume but infinite surface area, two seemingly equal expressions with different values, and many other peculiarities that give insight into the unusual nature of the infinitely large and the infinitely small.

SPECIAL GUEST: James Stewart from McMaster University
Title: How to Guess in Mathematics
Abstract: Mathematics is famous for proving things; it’s famous for being logical and precise. But that’s only part of the story. When mathematics is being invented, the creative mind is more important, and logic and rigor take second place to plausible reasoning and intelligent guessing. In this talk the principles of good guessing will be illustrated on a specific problem and the audience will be encouraged to do the guessing.