20202021 Academic Year Colloquium Schedule 

August 27, 2020
September 3, 2020
September 10, 2020
Title: 
Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization

Speaker:  Mark Ledwich

Abstract: 
YouTube's recommendation algorithm is frequently characterized by journalists and researchers as radicalizing users to the farright, but the evidence to date has been weak. We used data collected from the YouTube website to analyze the balance in recommendation impressions to see if it is favoring more extreme content. 768 US political channels were categorized into culturally relevant orientations and subcultures and 23M recommendations for recent videos were recorded during NovemberDecember 2019. We found that the late 2019 recommendation algorithm actively discourages viewers from being presented with fringe content. The algorithm is shown to favor mainstream media and cable news content over independent YouTube channels with a slant towards partisan political channels like Fox News and Last Week Tonight.
A talk given for the Stanford Center for Professional Development on 8 January 2020.
Video link

Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
VIRTUAL

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September 17, 2020
Title: 
Algorithms That Control Our Lives

Speaker:  David Sumpter
Professor of Applied Mathematics
University of Uppsala
Uppsala

Abstract: 
In a world of fake news, Facebook scandals and psychological warfare, mathematician David Sumpter investigates how much influence algorithms truly have over our behaviors.
Algorithms permeate our modern lives and analyze our online behaviors constantly, so much so that it's hard to know if you can trust your digital devices and social media accounts.
But just how statistically sound are algorithms like those used by Cambridge Analytica? How well can they really categorize us and influence our behaviors?
A talk given at The Royal Institution on 17 May 2018.
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Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
VIRTUAL

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September 24, 2020
Title: 
Beyond Web Search

Speaker:  Susan Dumais
Technical Fellow & Managing Director
Microsoft Research New England, New York City and Montreal
Microsoft
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Abstract: 
Although Web search has transformed how we access many kinds of information, information seeking and search are much broader than this. We all know this, of course, but it's surprising how intuitions/experiences in Web search shape our thinking more generally. I will talk about recent work in email search where just about everything is different than the (personal vs. public info; types of tasks; previous size of collection; level of knowledge and history of interaction; etc.). I will also broaden to newer information seeking with voice, dialog and proactive scenarios.
A talk given for the Stanford Center for Professional Development on 28 February 2020.
Video link

Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
VIRTUAL

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October 1, 2020
October 8, 2020
Title: 
How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking

Speaker:  Jordan Ellenberg
John D. MacArthur Professor of Mathematics
Vilas Distinguished Achievement Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin

Abstract: 
Maths touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. Maths is the science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument.
Maths touches everything we do, allowing us to see the hidden structures beneath the messy and chaotic surface of our daily lives. Maths is the science of not being wrong, worked out through centuries of hard work and argument.
A talk given at The Royal Institution on June 24, 2015.
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Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
VIRTUAL

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February 11, 2021
Title: 
Mathematics for human flourishing 
Speaker:  Francis Su
BenediktssonKarwa Professor of Mathematics
Department of Mathematics
Harvey Mudd College
Claremont, California

Abstract: 
Francis Su talks about his recent book
Mathematics for Human Flourishing.
A description of the book from Yale Press:
For mathematician Francis Su, a society without mathematical affection is like a city without concerts, parks, or museums. To miss out on mathematics is to live without experiencing some of humanitys most beautiful ideas.
In this profound book, written for a wide audience but especially for those disenchanted by their past experiences, an awardwinning mathematician and educator weaves parables, puzzles, and personal reflections to show how mathematics meets basic human desiressuch as for play, beauty, freedom, justice, and loveand cultivates virtues essential for human flourishing. These desires and virtues, and the stories told here, reveal how mathematics is intimately tied to being human. Some lessons emerge from those who have struggled, including philosopher Simone Weil, whose own mathematical contributions were overshadowed by her brothers, and Christopher Jackson, who discovered mathematics as an inmate in a federal prison. Christophers letters to the author appear throughout the book and show how this intellectual pursuit can—and must—be open to all.
This talk was given at the 2020 Teaching Contemporary Mathematics Conference at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics in Durham, North Carolina
on January 25, 2020.
Video link

Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
VIRTUAL

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February 18, 2021
Title: 
Allocating Scarce Resources using a Weighted Lottery

Speaker:  Michael A. Jones
Associate Editor and Managing Editor
Mathematical Reviews
American Mathematical Society
Ann Arbor, MI

Abstract: 
Motivated by the rationing of medicine during the pandemic, we determine the probability that a scarce resource is allocated based on its relationship to a conditional probability from a weighted lottery. Using the binomial theorem and some elementary combinatorics, we determine the probability of receiving the medicine when there are different types of patients. When there is just one type of patient so that every patient is treated the same, counterintuitively, a patient may have a higher probability of receiving the medicine, if the conditional probability is less.

Location: 
ONLINE

Time: 
7:00pm

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February 25, 2021
Title: 
Powers of 2, Dynamical Systems, and Benford's Law.

Speaker:  Drew Ash
Assistant Professor
Math and Computer Science
Albion College
Albion, Michigan

Abstract: 
Consider the following question, does there exist a power of $2$ which begins with the digits $7777$? If so, are there infinitely many powers of $2$ that begin with the digits $7777$? The answer to this question, surprisingly, has a solution using dynamical systems; that is, we consider repeated application of a function $T$ from a space $X$ to itself, $T:X\rightarrow X$. This talk has three goals. First, we will introduce the field of dynamical systems. Second, we will use dynamical systems to answer the posed question. Third and finally, we will relate this question to Benford's Law and discuss some of its applications.

Location: 
Google Meet

Time: 
7:00 PM

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March 4, 2021
Title: 
When Mathematics Says No: The Aesthetics of Impossibility

Speaker:  Susan Goldstine
Professor of Mathematics
Mathematics and Computer Science
St. Mary's College of Maryland
St. Mary's City, Maryland

Abstract: 
Sometimes, when we pose questions of mathematics, its answers are strikingly contrary. Why can't we trisect an angle with the same tools we use to bisect an angle? It's not possible. Why haven't we found the quintic formula? It doesn't exist. Can we at least prove that arithmetic is logically consistent? Nope!
We can view these results as intransigent obstacles to human knowledge, or we can accept them as fascinating illustrations of the boundaries of different mathematical techniques. In this talk, we will explore analogous results for techniques in the fiber arts. For each form of knitting, crochet, embroidery, and so forth, there is a set of limitations on what types of designs they can produce. Sometimes, these limits are broad enough that the the art form can encompass every mathematical possibility. Other times, the craft imposes intriguing restrictions on what patterns we can produce, and we will make the case that these restrictions have their own intrinsic beauty.

Location: 
Google Meet

Time: 
7:00 PM

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March 11, 2021
Title: 
Laser Propagation through the Atmosphere

Speaker:  Sophia Potoczak Bragdon '12
Mathematics
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, Colorado

Abstract: 
This talk focuses on modeling the propagation of laser light through the
atmosphere using a new approximation procedure called the variational
scaling law. Beginning with the modeling assumptions, I will introduce the
paraxial Helmholtz equation which is a stochastic partial differential
equation commonly used to model the propagation of a laser beam and
discuss why approximation methods, like scaling laws, are useful in
the application of laser weapons. The variational scaling law is
then derived using a variational formulation of the paraxial Helmholtz
equation paired with a Gaussian ansatz that depends on particular laser
beam parameters. The variational scaling law is a system of stochastic
ODEs that describes the evolution of the Gaussian beam parameters in
the direction of propagation. Finally, I will conclude with numerical
results that indicate the variational scaling law provides, at least, an
orderone approximation to the solution of the paraxial Helmholtz equation
in the presence of atmospheric turbulence. This work originated from my
internship with the Air Force Research Lab through their summer scholar
program and this is a program that is open to both undergraduate and
graduatelevel science students.

Location: 
Palenske 227 
Time:  7:00 PM 
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March 18, 2021
Title: 
Fairness, Proportionality and the US Presidential Primary Process

Speaker:  Jennifer Wilson
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Department of Natural Sciences and Mathematics
Eugene Lang College, The New School
New York, NY

Abstract: 
In this talk we will look at the apportionment methods that are used to determine the number of delegates each presidential candidate receives in the Democratic and Republican presidential state primaries held every four years. Candidates are awarded delegates in rough proportion to the percentage of the vote they receive, but since delegates are people, the results must be in expressible in integers. We will consider what fairness principles characterize the apportionment methods used in this process, and consider how far from proportional these methods can be.

Location: 
Palenske 227

Time: 
7:00 PM

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April 1, 2021
Title: 
A Mathematician, a Computer Scientist, and a Child Walk Into a Bar...

Speaker:  Stevie Molinari
Ball Aerospace
Denver, Colorado

Abstract: 
A sometimes useful, sometimes polemic distinction is made between pure and applied mathematics. In this talk we examine a puzzle from multiple lenses to highlight values and perspectives of both schools of thought.

Location: 
Palenske 227

Time: 
3:30 PM

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April 8, 2021
Title: 
Atmospheric Gravity Waves in the Magnetized Solar Atmosphere

Speaker:  Oana Vesa '18
Graduate Student
Astronomy
New Mexico State University
Las Cruces, New Mexico

Abstract: 
Waves and oscillations are present everywhere within the highly dynamic solar atmosphere. Waves provide diagnostic insight into the magnetized plasma and contribute to the heating of the upper atmosphere. This talk will focus on atmospheric gravity waves (AGWs), which are excited by overshooting convection on the Sun's surface. These waves can reach chromospheric heights and are highly susceptible to the magnetic field. AGWs are also ubiquitous in other stellar and planetary atmospheres. On Earth, these waves play a key role in general circulation models that help predict global weather. Using highresolution multiwavelength observations, we detect the signatures of propagating AGWs at disk center on the quiet Sun. We can harness their observed behavior at different atmospheric heights to sense the magnetic field and atmospheric flows in a novel way. This study will inform future observations of these waves with the new 4meter solar telescope, DKIST, in the upcoming years.

Location: 
Palenske 227

Time: 
7:00 PM

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