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The IMA Public Lectures are free and open to the public.
The IMA Public Lecture Series features distinguished mathematicians and scientists who illuminate the role of mathematics in understanding our world and shaping our lives. The purpose of these talks is to give the public a better understanding about how contemporary mathematical ideas are applied to important technological and scientific problems, conveying the significance and excitement of these applications. These engaging and informative lectures are designed for a broad audience, appropriate for middle-school students and older. This well-established series regularly draws diverse audiences of several hundred people.
Videos for past public lectures are available below. Please feel free to watch.
Lillian Lee, Cornell University
7:00 P.M., Tuesday, February 23, 2016 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis |
Randall LeVeque, University of Washington 7:00 P.M., Thursday, March 10, 2016 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis |
Arnold Family Lecture - The Living Art of Mathematics
7:00 P.M., Wednesday, April 22, 2015 2-470 Phillips-Wangensteen Building 516 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Cédric Villani, University of Lyon & Institut Henri Poincaré Villani will explore how mathematicians, obsessed with the notion of elegance, consider themselves as artists and poets in a form of art that is more alive than ever. Examples include the collaborative images of mathematician Richard Palais and graphic artist Luc Bénard created using 3D-XplorMath software, and Man Ray’s Shakespearean Equations paintings that were inspired by photographs of mathematical models made in the 1930s. Villani will also show how the intuition and creative genius of mathematicians have been inspiring artists for years. Cédric Villani is a French mathematician working primarily on partial differential equations and mathematical physics. He is a professor at the University of Lyon and the director of the Institut Henri Poincaré. Villani has been the recipient of the Jacques Herbrand Prize, the Prize of the European Mathematical Society, the Fermat Prize, and the Henri Poincaré Prize. In 2010, he was awarded the Fields Medal for his work on nonlinear Landau damping and the Botlzmann equation. Villani is the author of Birth of a Theorem: A Mathematical Adventure, a memoir of the years leading up to his Fields Medal. The book will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture. |
Waving Tails, Spiny Disks, and Sticky Situations: Explorations in Biological Fluid Dynamics
7:00 P.M., Wednesday, March 11, 2015 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Lisa Fauci, Tulane University Phytoplankton floating in the ocean, sperm moving through the reproductive tract, and fish swimming in the sea all rely on an intricate interplay of forces. These are examples of how flexible structures interact with a surrounding fluid – a common theme in biological fluid dynamics. This lecture will explore how mathematical models and computational simulations are being used to study some intriguing biological systems. Lisa Fauci holds a Ph.D. in math from New York University and is the Pendergraft Nola Lee Haynes Professor of Mathematics at Tulane University. Her research focuses on fluid dynamics, mathematical biology, and scientific computing. In particular, she uses methods from computational fluid dynamics to understand biological processes, such as sperm motility, the neuromechanics of locomotion, and phytoplankton dynamics in the ocean. She is a world-renowned speaker on the topic of biological fluid dynamics. |
Toy Models
7:00 P.M., Thursday, October 30, 2014 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Tadashi Tokieda, University of Cambridge Would you like to come see some toys? "Toys" here have a special sense: objects of daily life that you can find or make in minutes, yet which, if played with imaginatively, reveal surprises that keep scientists puzzling for a while. Table-top demonstrations of several such toys will be presented, and we will visit some of the science that they open up. Tadashi Tokieda, the Director of Studies in Mathematics at Trinity Hall, Cambridge, grew up in Japan, was educated in France, used to be a classical philologist, and has a Ph.D. from Princeton. One of his lines of activity is inventing, collecting, and studying toys. Some of these toys have been featured in shows and exhibits in various countries. |
How to Use Geometry to Get Rich Playing the Lottery*
7:00 P.M., Tuesday, September 30, 2014 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Jordan Ellenberg, University of Wisconsin at Madison For seven years, a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology exploited a loophole in the Massachusetts State Lottery’s Cash WinFall to win game after game, eventually pocketing more than $3 million. Jordan Ellenberg will talk about how they did it, why they got away with it, the mathematical notions of expected value and variance, and the surprising relationship of all this with projective geometry. Ellenberg is the author of the New York Times bestseller How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking and the novel The Grasshopper King. Both books will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture. *Sadly, will not actually help you get rich playing the lottery. |
Arnold Family Lecture - Mathematics in Modern Architecture
7:00 P.M., Tuesday, April 29, 2014 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Helmut Pottmann, Vienna University of Technology and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology Many of today’s most striking buildings are nontraditional freeform shapes. While using current modeling tools to digitally design freeform geometry is well understood, fabrication on the architectural scale is a big challenge, providing a rich source of research topics in geometry and geometric computing. Pottmann will provide an overview of recent progress in the emerging field of architectural geometry, discuss its relation to contemporary research in geometry and computer graphics, and illustrate the shift of mathematical research into architectural practice. Helmut Pottmann is a professor of applied mathematics at King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia and a professor of geometry at Vienna University of Technology. His research interests are in applied geometry and visual computing with a recent focus on geometric computing for architecture and manufacturing. |
Keeping Track of the Web 7:00 P.M., Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Carrie Grimes, Google The content of the internet has grown rapidly to fill many information niches and forms a critical—and entertaining—resource for the public. Unlike a library, however, there is no complete catalog of pages on the web and no central registry of updates. Pages on the web are born, updated, languish, and disappear independently. A web resource, such as a search engine that wants to capture a significant part of the web, has to keep up. In this lecture, Carrie Grimes will explore how to apply models developed for biological and physical systems to a new context in order to understand information creation and updates on the web. |
The Evolution of Cooperation: Why We Need Each Other to Succeed 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, October 8, 2013 Coffman Theater (Coffman Union) 300 Washington Ave. SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Martin Nowak, Harvard University During his upcoming Public Lecture, evolutionary biologist Martin Nowak, author of the best-selling book SuperCooperators, will share his cutting-edge research on the mysteries of cooperation. According to Nowak, many problems that challenge us today can be traced back to a tension between what is good and desirable for society as a whole and what is good and desirable for an individual. This conflict is illustrated by global problems such as climate change, pollution, hunger, and overpopulation. Nowak argues that cooperation—not competition—is the key to the evolution of complexity. |
From Rubik to Escher to Security: Symmetry from Scratch 7:00 P.M., Thursday, September 19, 2013 2-650 Moos Tower 515 Delaware St SE East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video Brian Conrad, Stanford University Symmetry is evident in many forms from ancient architecture to classical art; however, not as obvious is the mathematical theory of symmetry behind modern applications, such as Rubik's Cube, the art of M.C. Escher, and the security of financial transactions on the Internet. These three topics are not as unrelated as they may initially seem to be. During the lecture, the mathematical ideas behind symmetry will be developed from scratch and illustrated with pictures and numerical examples. |
Mathematics and the Melting Polar Ice Caps 7:00 P.M., Wednesday, April 3, 2013 175 Willey Hall, 225 19th Ave. South West Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Kenneth Golden, University of Utah In September 2012, the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice reached its lowest level ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements. In fact, compared to the 1980s and 1990s, this represents a loss of more than half of the summer Arctic sea ice pack. While global climate models generally predict sea ice declines over the 21st century, the precipitous losses observed so far have significantly outpaced most projections. During his lecture, Golden will discuss how mathematical models of composite materials and statistical physics are being used to study key sea ice processes and advance how sea ice is represented in climate models. This work is helping to improve projections of the fate of Earth’s ice packs and the response of polar ecosystems. In addition, a video from a 2012 Antarctic expedition where sea ice properties were measured will be shown. |
Math in China, India, and the West— Can We Compare Their Achievements Objectively? 7:00 P.M., Wednesday, February 27, 2013 175 Wiley Hall, 225 19th Ave. South West Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis Lecture Video David Mumford, Brown University From Victorian England until quite recently, it was accepted that math began in Greece, then languished until the Renaissance when it took off in Europe. Now with “political correctness” and chauvinism in the reborn great powers of the East, the pendulum has swung and some claim that the key ideas originated in the East and migrated to the West. To make a balanced and scholarly assessment is not easy. First, one must look equally at both applied and pure math and at the role of rigor versus other forms of argument across cultures. During his lecture, Mumford will present a series of vignettes of actual math from Babylon, Vedic India, Han China, Baghdad, and Kerala (India) to illustrate how rich the full picture is and how the idiosyncrasies of each culture profoundly altered the math they developed. His lecture will also cover what was unique to the math of ancient Greek culture, and why, finally, math exploded in 17th century Europe. |
Alan Turing: The Power of Mathematical Discovery 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, December 4, 2012 Lecture Video Andrew Hodges, University of Oxford Alan Turing’s short and extraordinary life had great consequences for modern computers, for the philosophy of mind, and for the outcome of the Second World War. But all these things, and more, sprang from his innovative work in mathematics. Andrew Hodges’ talk will illustrate the way that Turing seized on a great range of mathematical ideas and turned them into world-changing discoveries. |
Arnold Family Lecture- Private Data, Public Computation 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, October 16, 2012, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Kristin Lauter, Cryptography Group, Microsoft Research Many useful internet-based services, such as email, back-up storage, electronic medical records, etc., are hosted in the Cloud in large, expensive data centers run by major companies. Private outsourcing of services and computation to the Cloud is an important issue for sensitive data. Many services currently rely on trusting the Cloud provider to maintain confidentiality of private data and to assure integrity of data and computation. Privacy loss can occur through either explicit mining of personal data, or inadvertent leakage, or compromising anonymity in databases. We will discuss solutions based on emerging tools from cryptography to prevent and mitigate these problems. |
Flocks and Fleets: Collective Motion in Nature and Robotics 7:00 P.M., Tuesday, October 11, 2011, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Naomi Ehrich Leonard (Princeton University) From bird flocks to fish schools, animals move together and respond to their environment in remarkable ways; their natural collective motion patterns appear well choreographed and their collective survival strategies seem ingenious. These animal group behaviors inspire design for groups of mobile, sensor-equipped robots, where demanding cooperative sensing tasks, such as exploration and mapping in uncertain, dynamic environments in land, sea, air, or space, find their analogue in natural group behaviors, such as foraging and feeding. However, bio-inspired design of this kind is not immediate because the natural mechanisms are not well understood. Mathematical modeling and analysis play a critical role in addressing this joint challenge to explain the enabling mechanisms in animal groups and to define provable mechanisms for robotic groups. A common framework based on notions of synchrony will be used to discuss connections among spatial pattern, information passing, and collective behavior in robot and animal networks. Applications to be presented include the design of an adaptive ocean observation system using a fleet of underwater robotic vehicles and an investigation of motion and decision-making in bird flocks and fish schools. |
Arnold Family Lecture - Cryptography: Secrets and Lies, Knowledge and Trust Lecture Video 7:00 P.M., Thursday, November 3, 2011, Willey Hall 175 Avi Wigderson (Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton) 1) Did you ever wonder what protects your computer password when you log on, or your credit card number when you shop on-line, from hackers listening on the communication lines? 2) Is it possible for a group of people to play a (cardless) game of Poker on the telephone, without anyone being able to cheat? 3) Can you convince others that you can solve a tough math (or SudoKu) puzzle, without giving them the slightest hint of your solution? 4) Can two people who never met create a secret language in the presence of others, which no one but them can understand? In this talk, I plan to survey some of the mathematical and computational ideas, definitions, and assumptions which underlie privacy and security of the Internet and electronic commerce. I will explain some of the magical consequences of this theory. For example, how the solution of question (1) enables a positive answer to questions (2), (3), and (4). I will also explain the fragility of the current foundations of modern cryptography and the need for stronger ones. |
The Curious World of Probabilities 7:00 P.M., Wednesday, April 25, 2012, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Jeffrey S. Rosenthal (Department of Statistics, University of Toronto, and author of Struck by Lightning: The Curious World of Probabilities) Probabilities and randomness arise whenever we’re not sure what will happen next. They apply to everything from lottery jackpots to airplane crashes, casino gambling to homicide rates, medical studies to election polls to surprising coincidences. This talk will explain how a “Probability Perspective” can shed new light on many familiar situations. It will also discuss Monte Carlo computer algorithms, which use randomness to solve problems in many branches of science. |
How financial engineering can cure cancer, solve the energy crisis, and stop global warming 7:00P.M., Tuesday, September 21, 2010, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Andrew W. Lo (Harris & Harris Group Professor of Finance, Massachusetts Institute of Technology) As disruptive as the financial crisis has been, the important lessons to be learned from the spectacular failure of financial technologies gone awry may actually pave the way for some of the most significant achievements of the 21st century. In this talk, Prof. Lo will provide a brief overview of the origins of the crisis, the key role that mathematics played, and how a deeper understanding of human nature may allow financial engineers to focus the enormous power of global financial markets on some of society's most pressing challenges. |
Arnold Family Lecture Burst, cascades, and hot spots: A glimpse of some on-line social phenomena at global scales 7:00P.M., Tuesday, November 9, 2010, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Jon Kleinberg (Tisch University Professor, Department of Computer Science, Cornell University) As an increasing amount of social interaction moves on-line, it becomes possible to study phenomena that were once essentially invisible: how our social networks are organized, how groups of people come together and attract new members, and how information spreads through society. With computational and mathematical ideas, we can begin to map the rich social landscape that emerges, filled with "hot spots" of collective attention, and behaviors that cascade through our networks of social connections. The Arnold Family Lecture series is endowed by a generous gift from the Arnold Family Foundation. |
Secrecy, privacy, and deception: the mathematics of cryptography
7:00P.M., Wednesday, March 9, 2011, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Jill Pipher (Mathematics Department, Brown University) Every time we go on-line to look up something or to make a purchase, we are exposing ourselves to a certain amount of risk. We risk having our identities hijacked and our private information exploited. How do we protect networks against intruders and keep information safe? We do this with cryptography. This lecture will tour the mathematical ideas behind encryption, public key encryption, digital signatures, and authentication. |
Recommender systems for fun and profit 7:00P.M., Wednesday, April 13, 2011, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Chris Volinksy (Statistics Research Department, AT&T Labs-Research) In October 2006, Netflix kicked off a $1M competition by releasing 100 million movie ratings as a training set to be used to build a better recommendation system for their on-line movie rental business. This landmark data set generated intense interest from the statistics and machine learning communities, and attracted entries from over 3000 teams from academia and industry. In this talk, I will review our team's experience analyzing this data and document our journey towards winning a share of the million dollar prize. Some of the surprising lessons include the role of ensembles (of models and teams) in the drive for the top spot, the power of matrix decomposition techniques, and the interplay between collaboration and competitiveness during the contest. |
First Arnold Family Lecture Chaotic elections: why don't we elect whom voters really want? 7:00P.M., Tuesday, September 22, 2009, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery News Release Donald G. Saari (University of California, Irvine) Minnesota voters can appreciate the many troubling events associated with elections. Far more serious things can go wrong in the voting process, but most of us do not know how to look for them. The speaker exposes the many surprising problems that can occur in elections and explains how they are uncovered through the power of mathematics. Expect to leave this lecture troubled about whether the "right person" won in a recent election of importance to you. The Arnold Family Lecture series is endowed by a generous gift from the Arnold Family Foundation. |
The Shape of Space 7:00P.M., Thursday, November 12, 2009, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery News Release Jeffrey Weeks (freelance mathematician) When we look out on a clear night, the universe seems infinite. Yet this infinity might be an illusion. During the first half of the presentation, computer games will introduce the concept of a "multiconnected universe." Interactive 3D graphics will then take the viewer on a tour of several possible shapes for space. Finally, we'll see how recent satellite data provide tantalizing clues to the true shape of our universe. The only prerequisites for this talk are curiosity and imagination. For middle school and high school students, people interested in astronomy, and all members of the university and surrounding communities. |
From flapping birds to space telescopes: the math of origami
7:00P.M., Tuesday, February 9, 2010, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery News Release Robert J. Lang (artist and consultant) The principles of origami, the centuries-old Japanese art of paper-folding, can be used to solve a wide range of folding problems, from how to compress an airbag into a steering wheel to how to design complex folding telescopes. These math-based origami concepts are used in product develoP.M.ent, architecture, and designs seen all around us. For example, the University of Minnesota's Weisman Art Museum is an origami-inspired structure. The speaker is an artist and a consultant who applies origami principles to engineering problems. |
Can chocolate save your life? 7:00P.M., Thursday, April 22, 2010, Willey Hall 175 Lecture Video Photo Gallery News Release Nancy Reid (Statistics, University of Toronto) This question appeared in a recent newspaper headline, but was based on a study involving only 14 people. How can we interpret the statistics behind headlines? What does statistically significant really mean? How do statistics get manipulated to further an agenda? The field of statistics is essential to understanding most current issues. It informs economics, health care, and environmental protection. The speaker calls statistics mathematical social work; it helps science progress, so it is important to understand its power. |
Surfing with wavelets 7:00P.M., Wednesday, October 29, 2008, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Ingrid Daubechies (Department of Mathematics and Program in Applied and Computational Mathematics, Princeton University) Wavelets are used in the analysis of sounds and images, as well as in many other applications. The wavelet transform provides a mathematical analog to a music score: just as the score tells a musician which notes to play when, the wavelet analysis of a sound takes things apart into elementary units with a well defined frequency (which note?) and at a well defined time (when?). For images wavelets allow you to first describe the coarse features with a broad brush, and then later to fill in details. Because wavelets allow you to do a similar thing in more mathematical terms, the wavelet transform is sometimes called a “mathematical microscope.” Wavelets are used by many scientists for many different applications. Outside science as well, wavelets are finding their uses: wavelet transforms are an intergral part of the image compression standard JPEG2000. The talk will start by explaining the basic principles of wavelets, which are very simple. Then they will be illustrated with some examples, including an explanation of image compression. |
Mathematics Making Sense of Sensors 7:00P.M., Wednesday, January 22, 2009, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Robert Ghrist (Department of Electrical and Systems Engineering/Department of Mathematics, University of Pennsylvania) Sensor networks are poised to affect our societies in dramatic ways. They are embedded into products we use each day, such as airbags, hearing aids, and networked cell phone systems. Sensors are tiny devices that collect information. When connected to a larger network, they manage vast amounts of data. Managing that data so we don't drown in it requires answers from mathematics. Sensor networks monitor environmental changes in rain forests and are used in nanotechnology and biomedical testing. They are widely used in law enforcement and in homeland security. "These networks are changing our lives and our social rules," Ghrist says. "And the impacts we are seeing today are incomparable to changes that are coming." He will describe a recent calculus for sensor network data, whose origins lie in algebraic topology. |
Sports Scheduling and the Practice of Operations Research 7:00P.M., March 4, 2009, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Michael Trick (Tepper School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University) Major League Baseball is a multi-billion dollar per year industry that relies heavily on the quality of its schedule. Teams, fans, TV networks, and even political parties (in a way revealed in the talk) rely on the schedule for profits and enjoyment. Only recently have the computational tools of operations research been powerful enough to address the issue of finding "optimal" schedules. Trick will discuss his experiences in scheduling college basketball, major league baseball, and other sports, and show how operations research is revolutionizing the way sports scheduling is done. |
Network Science: From the Web to Human Diseases 7:00P.M., April 28, 2009, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Albert-László Barabási (Department of Physics, Northeastern University) Systems as diverse as the world wide web, Internet or the cell are described by highly interconnected networks with amazingly complex structure. Recent studies indicate that the evolution of these complex networks is governed by simple but generic laws, resulting in apparently universal architectural features. I will discuss this amazing order characterizing our interconnected world, and its implications to how we perceive the impact on communications and medicine. |
Algebra, statistics, computation and biology 7:00P.M., October 9, 2007, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Bernd Sturmfels (Department of Physics, Northeastern University) Recently, algebraic methods have been developed to unify and advance a variety of techniques of statistical analysis, providing new and improved tools for computational biology. Professor Sturmfels, one of the founders of the new field of algebraic statistics, will introduce the subject and describe its emerging applications to genome science and develoP.M.ental biology. He will be assisted by a fictional character named DiaNA who plays hopscotch and rolls tetrahedral dice with faces labeled “A”, “C”,“G”, and “T”. |
U.S. Premier Screening of the film
Achieving the Unachievable 7:00P.M., November 1, 2007, Willey Hall 125 Photo Gallery Film Trailer Jean Bergeron(Department of Physics, Northeastern University) M.C. Escher is among the most mathematical of artists. In 1956 he challenged the laws of perspective with his graphic Print Gallery, and found himself trapped by an impossible barrier. His uncompleted master-piece quickly became the most puzzling enigma of modern art, for both artists and scientists. Half a century later, mathematician Hendrik Lenstra took everyone by surprise by drawing a fantastic bridge between the intuition of the artist and his own, and completed Escher's work mathematically. This story is presented in the 52 minute film Achieving the Unachievable by documentary filmmaker Jean Bergeron. After the screening, the film's U.S. premier, Bergeron will be available to answer questions. |
Mathematical modeling in medicine, sports, and the environment 7:00P.M., February 13, 2008, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Alfio Quarteroni (École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland and Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy) Mathematical models are enabling advances in increasingly complex areas of engineering and technology. Recent develoP.M.ents in multiscale geometrical modeling have opened the way to progress in modeling such complex systems as the human circulatory system and the climate system. Professor Quarteroni leads a team which has harnessed mathematical modeling to design improved cardiac surgical interventions and to optimize the design of the twice winning America's cup yacht Alinghi. He will talk about this work, and their efforts to confront some of the great environmental challenges that face us. |
The Best of All Possible Worlds: The Idea of Optimization 7:00P.M., March 4, 2008, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Ivar Ekeland (University of British Columbia) Optimization, one of the most utilized branches of applied mathematics, is the study of problems which can be formulated as maximizing some quantity of interest by controlling related quantities. The idea of optimization is intimately connected with modern science. Pioneers like Galileo, Fermat, and Newton, were convinced that the world had been created by a benevolent god who had established the laws of nature as the most efficient way to achieve his purposes: in short, this is the best of all possible worlds, and it is the task of science to find out why and how. Gradually this view was overturned, leaving optimization as an important tool for the human-engineered world. More recently, game theory has come to replace optimization for describing situations where a multitude of individuals with conflicting interests make decisions based on imperfect information. In this lecture, Professor Ekeland will guide us along the path from Fermat to modern economic theory, and from optimization to game theory. |
How Hard Can it Be? 7:00P.M., November 2, 2006, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Slides Margaret H. Wright (Silver Professor of Computer Science Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences New York University) Some problems in life are very hard (achieving world peace) while others are, at least for many of us, pretty easy (eating a good breakfast). How can we figure out which are which? Math can often tell us precisely how hard real-world problems are—but not always. We'll look at easy problems, hard problems, the sources of hardness, and puzzling instances where problems are invariably easier than today's math says they should be. |
Making Sense of a Complex World 7:00P.M., January 18, 2007, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Slides: pdf html ppt Christopher J. Budd (Mathematical Sciences, University of Bath) The world around us often seems terribly complex, chaotic and difficult to understand. We encounter this every day: in the weather, social networks, sophisticated machinery, the internet. Frequently this complexity arises from the interaction of widely diverse scales in time and space. For example, the weather can turn in minutes, while the climate persists for many many years. Can math and science help us to make sense of all this complexity, or is it a study doomed from the start? Illustrating with many examples, Professor Budd will show that all is not lost. He will explain how simple properties often emerge from seemingly very complex systems, and how we can use these properties to gain understanding. |
Patterns Patterns Everywhere 7:00P.M., March 7, 2007, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Slides Martin Golubitsky (Cullen Distinguished Professor of Mathematics University of Houston) Regular patterns appear all around us: from vast geological formations to the ripples in a vibrating coffee cup, from the gaits of trotting horses to tongues of flames, and even in visual hallucinations. The mathematical notion of symmetry is a key to understanding how and why these patterns form. In this lecture Professor Golubitsky will show some of these fascinating patterns and explain how mathematical symmetry enters the picture. |
Epidemics in Technological and Social Networks; the Downside of Six Degrees of Separation 7:00P.M., April 18, 2007, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Jennifer Tour Chayes (Manager of the Theory Group and Research Area Manager for Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science Microsoft Research) During the past decade, complex networks have become increasingly important in communication and information technology. Vast, self-engineered networks, like the Internet, the World Wide Web, and Instant Messaging Networks, have facilitated the flow of information, and served as media for social and economic interaction. In social networks, the ease of information flow goes by many names: the "small world" phenomenon, the "Kevin Bacon phenomenon," and "six degrees of separation"—the claim that any two people on earth can be connected through a chain of acquaintances with at most five intermediaries. Unfortunately, many of the properties that facilitate information transmission also facilitate the spread of viruses in both technological and social networks. Dr. Chayes uses simple mathematical models to explain these epidemics and to examine strategies for their containment. |
Does Math Matter to Brain Matter? 7:00P.M., December 8, 2005, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Postcard Slides: pdf ppt Movies: 05coh_circleqt.mov 30coh_circleqt.mov NOsc1Hzqt.mov NOsc3Hzqt.mov NOscDistFreq3HzPaperParamsqt.mov One2qt.mov paths85qt.mov rafal_pplaneqt.mov Philip Holmes (Professor of Mechanics and Applied Mathematics Princeton University) The human brain contains about 100 billion neurons, each making about 1000 synaptic connections with other neurons. This huge dynamical system communicates with itself and its environment via electrical impulses called spikes. How is incoming information turned into spikes, and how do spikes create decisions and behaviors? I will show how mathematics helps us model and analyze such questions, involving events from single neural spikes to decisions that change our lives. |
Artful Mathematics 7:00P.M., February 8, 2006, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery Postcard Daniel Rockmore (Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, Dartmouth College) All too often we see mathematics and the arts as two sides of the science/humanities coin. In this talk we'll see a place in which the two come naturally together in exciting new research. In today's world in which almost all aspects of life are brought to the common medium of the computer, it is now possible to quantify and extract the style of an artist via computation. Examples are gleaned from the literary, visual, and dance arts, and include applications to the problem of authentication. Taken together this work reveals just how stylish math can be. |
Gravity's Cosmic Shadows: A Mathematical Unveiling 7:00P.M., March 22, 2006, Willey Hall 125 Lecture Video Photo Gallery pdf ppt Postcard Arlie O. Petters (Professor of Mathematics and Physics, Duke University ) Shadow patterns are all around us. We drive through them on the way to work and swim among them in pools. Similar patterns are also cast throughout the universe by the gravitational fields of stars and galaxies. We unveil some of the cosmic and mathematical secrets of these mysterious and beautiful patterns. |
Mathematics and Magic Tricks 7:00P.M., April 19, 2006, Willey Hall 125 Photo Gallery Postcard Persi Diaconis(Statistics and Mathematics, Stanford University) Sometimes the way a magic trick works is even more amazing than the trick itself. I will illustrate with some performable tricks that seem to fool magicians. The math involved has application to breaking and entering, robot vision, cryptography, random number generation, and DNA sequence analysis. |
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