Next meeting at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 2, 2016, in Cupples I room 199.
Speaker: Professor Rachel Roberts
Pizza will be served!
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)
Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition
The 21st annual Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition will be held on April 7-8, 2016 on the campus of Missouri Western State University (St. Joseph, MO). We hope to send 2 teams of 3 students each. This competition consists of ten problems, divided into two 2.5 hour sessions: one Thursday evening and the other Friday morning. Papers are graded Friday afternoon and the results announced at a banquet on Friday evening. If you want read more about the competition (including old exams and solutions), go to the competition website.
The drive this year is a long one: 5-6 hours each way. We'll need to leave around 9 Thursday morning to allow for a quick pit stop for lunch, checking into the motel and having dinner before the competition Thursday evening, and start back after breakfast Saturday morning.
If you're interested in being on one of the teams, contact Professor Freiwald by Wednesday, February 10. We'll select teams and alternates shortly after that and notify the participants.
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 lecture will be held on Thursday, February 25, 2016 at 4:30 p.m. featuring Professor Robert Devaney (Department of Mathematics, Boston University).
The Fractal Geometry of the Mandelbrot Set
Abstract In this lecture we describe several folk theorems concerning the Mandelbrot set. While this set is extremely complicated from a geometric point of view, we will show that, as long as you know how to add and how to count, you can understand this geometry completely. We will encounter many famous mathematical objects in the Mandelbrot set, like the Farey tree and the Fibonacci sequence. And we will find many soon-to-be-famous objects as well, like the "Devaney" sequence. There might even be a joke or two in the talk.
Professor Devaney works in the area of dynamical systems, primarily complex analytic dynamics, but also including more general ideas about chaotic dynamical systems. Lately, he has become intrigued with the incredibly rich topological aspects of dynamics, including such things as indecomposable continua, Sierpinski curves, and Cantor bouquets. He is a recent past president of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA, 2013-2015).
Honors Thesis Presentations
The following presentations were made by students graduating in December 2015:
- Fangzhou Xiao (faculty advisor, Professor Renato Feres) 11 a.m.- 12.p.m. on Monday, 11/30, in Cupples I, room 199
Title: Stochastic Thermodynamics of Markov Chain from Billiards Model
Abstract: Markov chain and statistical mechanics usually describe the same subject with different terms. While statistical mechanics is readily explained in terms of stochastic processes, we hardly have much physical intuition regarding general stochastic processes. Here I explored the thermodynamics for a class of Markov chain on general state spaces derived from random dynamical system of billiards mechanics. I strive to verify basic thermodynamic laws with physical quantities expressed in terms of stochastic processes. Specifically I did simulation and analysis to obtain drift velocity, heat transfer rate, heat conductivity, and entropy production rate as functions of mechanical parameters. Furthermore, I drew connection with stochastic differential equations of the Langevin type by statistical estimation from simulated trajectories.
- Dahye Han (faculty advisor, Professor Edward Spitznagel), 4-5 p.m. on Monday 11/30, in Cupples I, room 6
Title: Risk Factor Analysis of Thrombocytopenia
Abstract: Thrombocytopenia is defined to be a condition in which the blood contains a lower number of platelets than the normal platelet count. This disease can lead to bleeding with different severity depending on the deficiency level of platelet counts. The commonly used threshold of the platelet count to diagnose thrombocytopenia is 150,000 per microliter (i.e. 150*10^9/L). Many types of research conducted regarding thrombocytopenia have suggested its association with liver disease or failure. Based on these given information, this paper studies what factors related to the liver functionality affect thrombocytopenia. Among the 9756 participants of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011-2012, 2220 participants had full information on albumin level, bilirubin level, the existence of hepatitis A, B, and C antibody, cholesterol level, blood pressure, cigarette usage, and household smoker. These factors and their interactions were included as independent variables in the logistic regression modeling. The result shows that low albumin level, high bilirubin level, the absence of hepatitis C antibody, and high blood pressure contributes to a high probability of having thrombocytopenia. Testing the goodness of model fit reflects this logistic model does a fair job to fit the data and predict if a person is at risk of having thrombocytopenia.
Anyone is welcome to attend.
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.
The 18th annual Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics will be 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.
Notice from the Conference website, the following comments about registration, dates,and the warning about registration filling up fast.
Conference registration will open Oct. 1, 2015 at 10 a.m. Central Daylight Time (CDT) for presenters and Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. CDT for non-presenters. It is possible for conference registration to fill within the first 24 hours of general (non-presenter) registration. For the 2016 conference, students are only allowed to attend the conference once without having presented. Therefore, students who did not present when they have attended in the past must present this year before their registration is considered confirmed.
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. If you’re sure you’d like to attend, then send your name to me by FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18. The Department will decide then who we’re able to support. If you’re selected, you will be responsible to pay a conference registration fee (fairly soon, to confirm your registration). This will probably be around $40. The conference organizers will cover most of your other expenses such as room and most of your meals.
Please don’t reply unless you’re fairly certain you want to do this and can commit, if selected, to register and pay the registration fee promptly. Otherwise, you may be holding a place from someone else who would like to go.
Math Competitions This Year
- William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America (MAA): Saturday, December 5, 2015 (approximately 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.). Any number of students can participate, and there will be practice preparation sessions during the fall 2015 semester. Here's how the MAA describes the mathematics background suggested for participants and a partial history of the Putnam Competition). You can view past contest problems and solutions at the Putnam web page maintained at Santa Clara University. Questions? Contact Professor John McCarthy or Professor Xiang Tang.
- The 21st annual Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition will be held on April 7-8, 2016 on the campus of Missouri Western State University (St. Joseph, MO). We hope to send 2 teams of 3 students each. This competition consists of ten problems, divided into two 2.5 hour sessions: one Thursday evening and the other Friday morning. Papers are graded Friday afternoon and the results announced at a banquet on Friday evening. If you want read more about the competition (including old exams and solutions), go to the competition website. We will ask in January 2016 to find out who's interested in going.
Math Competition Results for 2014-2015
WU performed very well on the annual Putnam Competition, both individually and as a team. Read details about the Putnam Competition (and also the MO Collegiate Math Competition) in the WU Newsroom article.
Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition, Spring 2015
Two WU teams participated in the 20th annual Missouri Collegiate Mathematics Competition, sponsored by the Missouri Section of the Mathematics Association of America and held in spring 2015 on the campus of Missouri University of Science and Technology (Rolla, MO). The W.U. teams placed 1st and 2nd among about 40 teams participating. The 1st place team also captured the 1st place position in the 2014 competition.
Left to right: First place team Anthony Grebe, Alan Talmage, Fangzhou Xiao, and second place team Ted Meador, Stella Schindler and Yu Tao Li
You can read more here about the annual Missouri competition: an archive of past problems, solutions, and oficial competition photos.
For more information: please contact Professor Ron Freiwald.
Juniors: Latin Honors and Distinction in Mathematics Awards for May 2016
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. You should be planning coursework now so that requirements don't "pile up" at the end.
For current A&S juniors who plan to be candidates for Latin Honors: the Department must submit to the College a list of all candidates for May 2016 Latin Honors by September 1, 2015. To be on this list, you need to have an overall GPA and a upper level math GPA of at least 3.65, and you need to have submitted a proposal for your honors thesis--signed and approved by a faculty advisor. It's usually best to get all this lined up and submitted by the end of your junior year to avoid a rush when you return in the fall. In addition, you can then use part of the summer doing background work toward the honors thesis.
Note: If you're not on the list of Honors Candidates submitted on September 1, 2015, it might well happen that you cannot be considered as a Latin Honors candidate by the College. There is no guarantee that the College will approve later additions to the list. So please don’t overlook this process.
If there are any December 2015 graduates planning to work on Latin Honors, my guess is that the College will ask for the names of all candidates by sometime in May 2015.
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)
Mathematical Moments from the AMS--insights into the role of mathematics in science, technology and society
Annual Department Awards Ceremony
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 honor a TA with the Robert McDowell Teaching Award, and a faculty member (or TA) with the Guido Weiss Award for Teaching and Service. The next awards ceremony will be at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 28, 2016, in Cupples I, room 199, with refreshments preceding at 4 p.m. in the Lounge (room 200). More details to come!
Senior Open House
For graduating seniors and their families, we are expecting to have a Math Department Senior Open House on the day before Commencement, Thursday, May 19, 2016—immediately following the Arts & Sciences Recognition Ceremony. Watch for more details.
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