Calendar of Events

2020-2021 Academic Year Calendar of Events

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(Faculty/Staff Only)

8/27/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Adam Kucharski
The Maths of Contagion: Why Things Spread and Why They Stop
9/3/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Lauren Ancel Meyers
Modeling to Mitigate the COVID-19 Pandemic
9/10/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Mark Ledwich
Algorithmic Extremism: Examining YouTube's Rabbit Hole of Radicalization
9/17/20 Math/CS Colloquium: David Sumpter
Algorithms That Control Our Lives
9/24/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Susan Dumais
Beyond Web Search
10/1/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Grant Sanderson
Quaternions
10/8/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Jordan Ellenberg
How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking
2/11/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Francis Su
Mathematics for human flourishing
2/18/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Michael A. Jones
Allocating Scarce Resources using a Weighted Lottery
2/25/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Drew Ash
Powers of 2, Dynamical Systems, and Benford's Law.
3/4/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Susan Goldstine
When Mathematics Says No: The Aesthetics of Impossibility
3/11/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Sophia Potoczak Bragdon '12
Laser Propagation through the Atmosphere
3/18/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Jennifer Wilson
Fairness, Proportionality and the US Presidential Primary Process
4/1/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Stevie Molinari
A Mathematician, a Computer Scientist, and a Child Walk Into a Bar...
4/8/20 Math/CS Colloquium: Oana Vesa '18
Atmospheric Gravity Waves in the Magnetized Solar Atmosphere

August 27, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
Title: The Maths of Contagion: Why Things Spread and Why They Stop
Speaker:Adam Kucharski
Associate Professor
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
London
Abstract: Why are some diseases predictable, and others swamped in uncertainty? And what about the outbreaks that never happen at all? Adam covers how disease like malaria, Zika, Sars and Covid-19 spread, but also how similar kinds of mathematical models can be used to trace the spread of fake news, and even internet memes.

A talk given at The Royal Institution on 30 June 2020.

Video link plus Q&A
Location: ONLINE
Time: VIRTUAL

September 3, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
Title: Modeling to Mitigate the COVID-19 Pandemic
Speaker:Lauren Ancel Meyers
Professor
Department of Integrative Biology
The University of Texas at Austin
Austin, Texas
Abstract: Video of a talk given at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI) Virtual Workshop on Mathematical Models for Prediction and Control of Epidemics, August 14, 2020.
Lecture Slides available.
OPTIONAL: I encourage you to also watch the Panel Discussion.
Location: ONLINE
Time: VIRTUAL

September 10, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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 far-right, 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 sub-cultures and 23M recommendations for recent videos were recorded during November-December 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

September 17, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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.

Video link
Location: ONLINE
Time: VIRTUAL

September 24, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

October 1, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
Title: Quaternions
Speaker:Grant Sanderson
3blue1brown

Abstract: These two videos provide an overview of quaternions, a 4D number system discovered by William Rowan Hamilton in 1843.

Video link 1

Video link 2
Location: ONLINE
Time: VIRTUAL

October 8, 2020

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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.

Video link
Location: ONLINE
Time: VIRTUAL

February 11, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
Title: Mathematics for human flourishing
Speaker:Francis Su
Benediktsson-Karwa 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 humanity’s most beautiful ideas. In this profound book, written for a wide audience but especially for those disenchanted by their past experiences, an award-winning mathematician and educator weaves parables, puzzles, and personal reflections to show how mathematics meets basic human desires—such as for play, beauty, freedom, justice, and love—and 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 brother’s, and Christopher Jackson, who discovered mathematics as an inmate in a federal prison. Christopher’s 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

February 18, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

February 25, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

March 4, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

March 11, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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 order-one 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 graduate-level science students.
Location: Palenske 227
Time: 7:00 PM

March 18, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

April 1, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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

April 8, 2021

Mathematics and Computer Science Colloquium
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 high-resolution multi-wavelength 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 4-meter solar telescope, DKIST, in the upcoming years.
Location: Palenske 227
Time: 7:00 PM

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