Fall 2012 Abstracts

  • "Forces Made Visible", featuring Kenneth Snelson, World-renowned sculptor and designer of the top of the World Trade Center Freedom Tower.

Abstract : The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum is hosting its second annual Louise R. Weiser Lecture in Creativity, Innovation and Leadership through Art. The featured speaker will be the renowned sculptor Kenneth Snelson, whose talk is entitled "Forces Made Visible" after his book of the same name. His recent design, done in collaboration with the architects and engineers Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill, has been selected to crown the top of the Freedom Tower at One World Trade Center, New York.
  A contemporary sculptor and photographer, Snelson creates three-dimensional works that are composed of flexible and rigid components arranged according to the structural principal of 'tensegrity,' or floating compression. Their shiny metal rods, held together by networks of tensed aluminum cables, climb into the air at improbable angles, with an apparent disregard for gravity. His elegant sculptures are themselves scientific wonders and his work straddles art and physics so seamlessly that it can be seen as physics research expressed in sculpture.
  The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum will have two of Snelson's sculptures on view in the Museum lobby during the coming semester. His works can also be seen in museum collections and public spaces around the world including pieces at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh, the Storm King Art Center in Mountainville, N.Y., and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.

  • Panel on Summer Research and Internship Experiences, Mindan Chen, Valeri Edwards, Yihan Li, Xueqing Zhao

Come to the Math/Stat Department for lunch and hear your fellow students discuss their past summer experiences around the world, some directly involved with mathematics or statistics, some less so.  Find out where to go for information about such opportunities, how to apply for them, and what funding sources are available.  Bring your appetites (there will be pizza, as usual), your curiosity, and any questions you might have.

  • What is a Numerical Quintic Surface? Julie Rana, University of Massachusetts

When we think of surfaces, we think of the surface of a table or the surface of the moon. Mathematically, these are Real Surfaces--which up close look like the Cartesian plane--but we can go even further and extend this idea to Complex Surfaces. Once we've looked at a few examples (including my favorite, numerical quintic surfaces), we'll talk about ways to classify these surfaces. Along the way, you'll get a flavor of two compelling concepts in algebraic geometry, projective spaces and moduli spaces. This talk will be accessible to anyone who has taken calculus, but some knowledge of multivariable calculus might be helpful.

  • CS Study abroad in Budapest, David Szeszler, Professor of Combinatorial Optimization

An upcoming talk will be presented on campus to encourage students to consider a great new study abroad program, Aquincum Institute of Technology BUDAPEST, for students interested in computing, design, computational biology, and IT entrepreneurship. David Szeszler, professor at AIT and at the Budapest Technological University, will be giving a presentation about the program on Wednesday, October 10th at noon. Pizza and small treats from Hungary will be served!

  • Singularities: The Next Generation (aka: When is a Cone not a Cone?), Donal O’Shea, President New College of Florida, Former Mount Holyoke Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty

Abstract : I will provide a non-technical account of what I regard to be one of the most exciting mathematical advances of the last two decades.  It has been known for over a half a century that near an isolated singular point, the set of solutions of a polynomial in several variables can be complicated (it often fails to be a manifold), but not so complicated as to be inaccessible (it looks like, in the topological sense, a cone over a lower dimensional manifold, called the link of the singularity).  The associated theorem, and the study of manifolds that occur as links produced a flowering of deep insights into the structure of singularities, and is closely related to some of the greatest achievements of twentieth century mathematics.  Until recently, no one thought to ask whether the set of solutions actually looks like a cone in any geometrical sense.  A few years ago, two Brazilian mathematicians showed that, once the number of variables is greater than two, the answer is no.  Their work on explanations of this phenomenon, together with work of other interested mathematicians, point to a beautiful new theory that is transforming our understanding of the topology and geometry of complex algebraic singularities.  I will explain using two examples that are accessible to undergraduate mathematics majors, what is at stake and what the excitement is about.

  • Linear programming and polyhedral geometry, Dylan Shepardson, Department of Mathematics and Statistics

Abstract : This talk will be a very short introduction to linear programming. Linear programs are a class of optimization problems that appear in economics, computer science, and business, among many other disciplines. The theory of linear optimization ends up being useful because many different types of real-world questions can be answered using linear programs, and because we have surprisingly efficient algorithms for solving these problems. We'll work with an example to understand linear programs and some geometric ways of representing them, then we'll talk about the most famous algorithm for solving linear programs, and we'll finish by trying to understand linear programming duality in the context of our example problem.

  • The Mathematics of Life, James Keener, Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering, University of Utah

Abstract : Mathematical Biology is a relatively new field of mathematics that is growing rapidly. The goal of Mathematical Biology is to use mathematical methods and reasoning to help us understand the complexities of life. The purpose of this talk will be to give an introduction to how mathematical biology works and to give several examples of how mathematics can help us understand some of the processes and the underlying general principles that living organisms employ in order to survive and thrive.

  • The Bridges of Konigsberg, Jeremy Pecharich, Department of Mathematics and Statistics.

- Abstract : Konigsberg was a small town founded by the Teutonic knights on the banks of the Pregel river during the 13th century. During the Middle Ages it became a bustling center for trade and thus lead to a healthy economy for the city and its merchants.  With this wealth the city built seven bridges connecting various parts of the city which people would walk during the weekends. While walking the bridges they devised a game to see if someone could cross all the bridges exactly once. We will present a solution to this problem, as developed by Leonard Euler, which paved the way for the graph theory and topology.