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Math and CS Department News

Scott PowersColloquia

Smalltalk – Smalltalk is our more-or-less weekly colloquium, with 30-minute talks by students and faculty. Recent talks include:

  • A Magnetic Pendulum

  • Tux: The Penguin Revolution

  • Version Control Using Git - A Developer’s Best Friend

  • How Xerox Failed in the Computing Industry

  • There and Back Again: A Vector’s Tale

  • Prof Weiss vs. Dr. Fill

  • Making Your LEGOS Move

  • A Look at General Football Probabilities Using Markov Chain

  • COMAP competition – The COMAP competition is the world’s largest math modeling competition, with thousands of teams from around the world participating. The department usually fields a couple of teams each year. Historically, our students have done well in the competition with several Meritorious and Outstanding Winner designations.

  • Programming competition – Each year we run a programming competition open to all students.

2014-2015 Smalltalks

September 3 George Hagler
Logic: Axioms, Logical Systems and Completeness
Math proofs generally begin with base assumptions; logic considers how these base axioms generate entire logical systems and asks questions about them, such as: can every question able to be formulated in the system be proved true or false? Does the system contradict itself? We will examine these questions and more in this introduction to logic.

September 11 Joe Lesniewski
BLAND: A More Interesting Method for Crystallographic Data Analysis
In its raw form crystallographic data obtained from neutron diffraction experiments can seem drastically different from predicted outcomes at first glance. Traditionally, in order to reconcile these differences PhDs who knew a great deal about the crystal structure being analyzed would have to spend months adjusting model parameters using something called a Rietveld refinement in order to extract unknown model parameters from the data. BLAND is a software package that automates this process and greatly speeds it up (if you have access to a supercomputing cluster) allowing for better, faster, and more complete analysis of advanced nanoscale materials.

September 18 Brian Heinold
Questions of Prime Importance
Some of the biggest unsolved problems in mathematics involve prime numbers. These problems are often easy to state and understand, but have proven difficult to solve. We will look at a few of these problems and the progress made on them.

October 9 Michelle Rose
Unit Bar Visibility Number of Graphs
A graph G can be represented as a unit bar visibility graph, a collection of disjoint unit length horizontal line segments in a plane such that vertices that are adjacent in G have an unobstructed line of sight between bars in the visibility graph. The unit bar visibility number of a graph, denoted ub(G), is the number of unit bars required for any given vertex in order to represent G as a unit bar visibility graph.

Over the summer at an REU at RIT, my partner and I established a collection of results and bounds concerning the unit bar number of graphs. In this talk I will focus on the exact unit bar number for trees and the approximation for complete graphs

October 27 Alex Van Neste
Maple’s Magic Money Tree
Designing a trinomial model to compute real-world call prices uses a free variable that allows for more flexibility within the model. The model uses a method known as backwards induction to produce a list of call option prices based off of stock prices. A purpose of being able to compute these call price values is to be able to compare them to real-world values and identify possible mispriced options. The presentation will include the process of constructing the model, developing a written Maple program to compute values using the model, and some example results using Yahoo Finance.

November 20 Joseph Appleton & Christian Winkle
The Imitation Game
Alan Turing, a British mathematician and code-breaker, is credited as being the father of artificial intelligence. The new movie coming out about him chronicles his life revolving around one of his greatest accomplishments, the cracking of the German Enigma code during WWII. Get a preview into the movie’s plot and discover how Turing was able to crack the code.

November 24 Brian Heinold
The Hardest Problem
The P=NP problem, arguably the hardest unsolved problem in math and computer science, concerns whether or not there are efficient ways of solving a whole class of important problems. It is one of the Clay Mathematics Institutes $1,000,000 problems. This talk will be an understandable introduction to the problem and the consequences of its (non) resolution.

December 8 Sean Stanley
The RSA Algorithm: A Method of Public Key Cryptography
This talk will be a brief review of the RSA Algorithm: who came up with it, how it works, some of the applications, and known flaws. This will be a talk on one of the most famous methods of public key encryption and will be followed by a brief, chat room demonstration of how it works.

December 11 John Schultz
Introduction to Circuits
I will introduce circuits, circuit building, microcontrollers and what I have learned in my independent study that helped me use my Arduino microcontroller to create projects throughout the semester.

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