Congratulations to Newly-Graduated Majors
The Department of Mathematics congratulates all the students who were graduated with a major in mathematics on Friday, May 20, 2016. You worked hard over four years to complete your major.
A total of 88 students graduated on May 20. and six others graduated in August/December 2015, for a total of 94 in this academic year. Some facts about these students:
- they were born in 6 different countries
- those born within the U.S. represent 23 different states (including D.C.)
- a large proportion of them (about 81%) also completed a major in another area
- women make up about 31% of these majors—roughly the same proportion as at other private research-oriented universities
- 7 were elected to Phi Beta Kappa during their time at Washington University
And special thanks is due to all their family and friends for the support they gave.
Best wishes to you all as you explore new options, begin careers, and continue to learn. We were happy to see many of you at the Math Department's Senior Farewell Open House.
Annual Department Awards Ceremony
On April 28, at its annual Awards Ceremony, the Department recognized graduate degree recipients and also honored some of our outstanding graduating mathematics majors. Each year the Department presents Honors Cords (to wear at Commencement) to graduating seniors who have earned a Distinction Award in Mathematics, completed Latin Honors, or won one of the annual Department Prizes. In addition, we honored graduate student Marie Jose Saad with the Robert McDowell Teaching Award, and Professor John McCarthy with the Guido Weiss Award for Teaching and Service. If you weren't able to attend, please share the ceremony through some photos.
Results from Math Competitions 2015-2016
- William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) was held Saturday, December 5, 2015 (approximately 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.). There were 4275 student participants from 554 colleges and universities in Canada and the United States. The student participants compete as individuals on a six-hour, 12 problem competition. After grading, students are ranked based on their scores (taking ties into account). One Washington University Student, Anthony Grebe, received an "Honorable Mention" with a rank of 51.5 nationally. Three other WU students ranked between 97 - 199. Also, three students from each participating school may be designated as a school team, whose rank is determined by the average of the ranks of the individual team members: Only the top 10 ranked teams receive special mention. The WU team ranked 8th nationally and received an "Honorable Mention" designation. Team members were Zhengdao Chen, Philip Bonneville, and Anthony Grebe.
The next Putnam Competition will be held on Saturday, December 3, 2016. Watch for announcements in early fall 2016 about weekly "Putnam Preparation" sessions which are open to all students. Here's a link for old Putnam Competition problems and solutions.
- The 21st Annual Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition was held on April 7-8, 2016 on the campus of Missouri Western State University. Altogether 31 teams from 19 schools across Missouri participated, including two 3-person teams from WU. One WU team tied for 1st in the competition with a perfect "100" score: team members were Matt Ehren, Harry Go, and Alex Mason. The second WU team consisting of Changming Xu, Ted Meador and Stella Schindler placed 4th with an excellent 94 score.
Rear: Changming Xu, Alex Mason,
Stella Schindler, Harry Go
Front: Matt Ehren, Ted Meador
Problems, and Competition Photos are available at the competition Archive.
Competitions next academic year
- Putnam Competition, Saturday, December 3, 2016: watch for details in the fall
- Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition: Thursday March 30 and Friday March 31, 2017 on the campus of Missouri Southern State University in Joplin, Missouri. We expect to send 2 three-student teams. Please start thinking about whether you might like to participate. Participation would require leaving sometime Thursday morning and returnin to campus sometime Saturday afternoon. You can view old competition problems and solutions at the Competition Archive. For more information, please contact Professor Ron Freiwald.
Successful Senior Honors Theses Defended 2015-2016
- Anthony Grebe (faculty and ARTU advisor, Professor Victor Wickerhauser), Algorithms for Reducing the Complexity of High-Dimensional Data Sets
- Ben Zod (faculty advisor, Professor John Shareshian), Quantal Response: Models of Irrationality and Correlation in Games
- Katie Smith (faculty advisor, Professor John Shareshian), Group Decision-Making with Negative Influence Actors
- Alexander (Sasha) Tettenhorst (faculty and ARTU advisor Professor Ari Stern), Hodge Decomposition and the Shapley Value of a Cooperative Game
- Jiefu Zhang (faculty and ARTU advisor, Professor Xiang Tang), Spectral Gap of a Specific Linear Operator
- Logan Stern (faculty advisor, Professor Todd Kuffner), Semiparametric Modeling of Train Accident Costs with Implications for the Importance of Positive Train Control
- Yuanqing Jin (faculty advisor, Professor John McCarthy), Modeling the Spread of Amyloid in Patients with Alzheimer's Disease
- Keunjae (Harry) Go (faculty advisors Professors Xiang Tang and Renato Feres), Elements of the Mathematical Formulation of Quantum States
- Zoe Rehnberg (faculty and ARTU advisor, Professor Nan Lin), Exponential Random Graph Models Under Measurement Error
- Fangzhou Xiao (faculty advisor, Professor Renato Feres), Stochastic Thermodynamics of Markov Chain from Billiards Model
- Dahye Han (faculty advisor, Professor Edward Spitznagel), Risk Factor Analysis of Thrombocytopenia
Juniors: Latin Honors and Distinction in Mathematics Awards for May 2017
If you think you're interested in a Distinction in Mathematics Award, or Latin Honors, when you graduate, please check the requirements at Distinction or Latin Honors. The requirements for Distinction in Mathematics involve extra courses and at least a 3.65 GPA in upper level math courses. Higher levels of Distinction (and Latin Honors) require a senior thesis. Latin Honors requirements (for A&S students) are similar but also require an overall 3.65 GPA.
You should be planning coursework now so that requirements don't "pile up" at the end. If you file late, there is no guarantee you will be eligible for these awards.
All students who are considering writing a senior thesis (for Latin Honors, or for the "High" or "Highest" Distinction in Mathematics awards must file a request for admission to candidacy by the end junior year. The reason for the "early filing" is that a senior thesis is supposed to be a significant project that involves planning, reading, mathematical work, and write-up, and it should not be something put together in a hurry.
- Proposal for Admission to Candidacy for Latin Honors
- Proposal for Senior Theis Candidacy for High or Highest Distinction but not Latin Honors
Next meeting: TBA fall 2016
WU Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)
We are in the process of organizing an Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM) student chapter at WashU. AWM is a non-profit organization that encourages women and girls to study and have active careers in the mathematical sciences. Benefits of getting involved with an AWM student chapter include: free AWM membership, networking opportunities, a stronger sense of community, and more.
Washington University Actuarial Club (WUAC)
- If you are interested in becoming an executive member of WUAC. This is a fairly low time commitment and a great way to meet actuaries from many different lines of business.
- If you are interested in having an informational meeting about what classes to take for what exams, the exam process, general actuarial info, etc. If there is enough interest, we will put a presentation/ Q&A session together
- If you have any questions or feedback.
Join the WUAC Facebook group.
Interested in Helping to Provide Math Enrichment for Motivated Middle School Students? Check out Math Circles!
Summer Research Programs
Undergraduate majors, especially those interested in graduate work in mathematics, should consider applying to one of the many summer Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. Students most often participate after the junior year but, depending on your preparation, after the sophomore year might also work. Applications for the coming summer are usually due by about mid February. Explore our web page Undergraduate Study/Internship Opportunities and talk with Professor Ron Freiwald if you might be interested.
The Department expects to be able sometime this fall to accept aplications for our own research program (ARTU). This will depend on our funding from the Office of Undergraduate Research.
Not everyone will agree, but this article is worth considering.
William Chauvenet, from the Washington Magazine
Mathematician William Chauvenet was the second Chancellor of Washington University. The Department's Chauvenet Postdoctoral Lecturer positions are named after him. Our Chauvenet Lecturers for 2015-2016 are Professors Songhao (Travis) Li, Xuanyu Pan, and James Pascoe.
A smaller version (the "dual" of this structure) now hangs in the Math Lounge (room 200)
A team at the University of Central Missouri, headed by Curtis Cooper has announced, via press release from the Mersenne organization, that they have found the largest prime number ever. It breaks the old record by about 5 million digits. (Prof. Cooper also is one of the organizers of the Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition in which our teams perticipate each year.)
Mathematical Moments from the AMS--insights into the role of mathematics in science, technology and society
Mathematics Department Annual Holiday Potluck Lunch
In celebration of the end of the semester and the coming holidays, the Math Department will host a potluck lunch for its undergraduate majors, grad students and faculty on Wednesday, December 14, 2016, in Cupples I, room 200. Please bring some food to share if you can -- but if that's a problem, our majors are welcome to come and enjoy anyway. Watch for more details later in the Fall 2016 semester.
Loeb Undergraduate Lecture in Mathematics
Each spring the Deparment hosts a visiting mathematician to deliver a special lecture for undergraduates. This lecture is made possible by a wonderful gift from Jerry and Carol Loeb. The next Loeb lecturer will be Professor Erica Flaban (Pomona College). The talk will be at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, with refreshments at 3:45 preceding the talk.
Watch here for more details in early 2017.
The 18th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics was held January 29-31, 2016 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The conference, organized by the University of Nebraska (Lincoln), hosts more than 200 undergraduate women studying mathematics at more than one hundred schools all around the country.
The conference is a chance to meet with other women interested in mathematics, to learn about life in mathematics graduate school from current female graduate students, hear about summer research opportunities and careers in math. Undergraduate research presentations are also invited. There are also some excellent guest lecturers. You can also read comments from some of the W.U. majors who have attended these conferences in past years.
We assume there will be another conference in January, 2017. Watch for details. The Department should be able to help with airfare for a few female majors (up to a limit of $300 each) who would like to attend. Be thinking about whether you might enjoy going to this meeting.
We always welcome feedback or questions from students
- Professor Blake Thornton (Coordinator of Lower Division Teaching: Calculus/Differential Equations questions and issues)
- Professor Ron Freiwald (Director of Undergraduate Studies)
- Professor David Wright, Department Chair