Fall 2008

[12/4] [11/18] [11/11] [11/4] [10/28] [10/21] [10/17] [10/8] [10/8] [10/7] [9/30] [9/16] [9/2]

12/4: Flatland
Movie for departmental common hour

We will show Flatland (2007), a film based on Edwin Abott's 1884 book of the same title, about two-dimensional geometric characters who discover the three-dimensional world.

Date: 12/4
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

11/18: Pleading the Fifth: Euclid's Parallel Postulate
Nicholas Robbins
Gettysburg College

Geometry was created to solve concrete problems in the lives of ancient People. Euclid of Alexandria first organized it as a rigorous axiomatic system. He based his system on five assumptions. The fifth of these, his fifth postulate, has captured the interest of geometers for thousands of years. I will discuss several different notions of geometry, how they relate to Euclid's Parallel Postulate, and how well they describe the world around us.

Date: 11/18
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

11/11: Educational Gaming and the REU Experience
Jeremy Pesner ('09)
Michael Keating ('10)
Dickinson College

Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) are great programs for undergraduates majoring in mathematics and the sciences to participate in meaningful research projects. Dickinson students Jeremy Pesner ('09) and Michael Keating ('10) will discuss their general experience this past summer as members of the University of South Carolina's Engineering and Computer Science REU, as well as their individual research projects, which both pertained to the development of educational computer games.

Date: 11/11
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

11/4: How to Keep a Secret, Even on the Internet
John MacCormick
Dickinson College

Suppose you are in a room with one friend and one enemy. You want to communicate a secret, such as your credit card number, to your friend. But you can't, because your enemy will overhear anything you say to your friend. (Sounds like a ridiculous scenario? Think again: imagine your friend is Amazon.com, and the enemy is a computer hacker who can listen in on everything you transmit to Amazon.) It seems like it would be impossible to communicate a secret to the friend without also disclosing it to the enemy. Fortunately, one of the most ingenious ideas in computer science makes it possible to do just that: public key cryptography lets you communicate a secret to a friend, even when an enemy can listen in on the entire conversation. In fact, you use this incredibly important technique without knowing it, every time you use a secure website. Today's Internet would be almost useless without public key crypto!

This talk will describe how public key cryptography works, using simple explanations that require no background in computer science or math. We'll also see a live demo of how a hacker could steal your credit card number or password if you interacted with a website that didn't use public key crypto. And finally, we'll find out why there was a big party in San Francisco on September 21, 2000.

Date: 11/4
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

10/28: Math, Science, and Engineering in Combat Boots
LTC Edward L. McLarney
US Army War College

Math, Science, and Engineering play a critical role in defending the United States of America. LTC Edward McLarney will provide personal insights in math, science, and engineering application from a 19 year Army career in combat engineering, construction engineering, and emerging technology development. Science examples will include an explosives rule of thumb; construction engineering principles; quality control inspection techniques; modeling & simulation development and testing; and methods for working with other nations & industries for information technology innovation. LTC McLarney will conclude by sharing personal thoughts on the road ahead for math, science, and engineering in relation to defending our nation.

Date: 10/28
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

10/21: 10 Big Ideas in Mathematics
Prof. Gene Chase
Dickinson College and Messiah College

Why is it that kindergarten students and graduate students get to do mathematics, but between then, students are merely shown mathematics?" ask Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner in their book Teaching As a Subversive Activity. To answer their question, I look at 10 threads that run through all of mathematics from kindergarten through graduate school. I avoid listing any here so that you can come with your own list of what you think the big ideas in mathematics are.

Date: 10/21
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

10/17: Book Signing at Whistlestop Bookshop
Prof. Dave Richeson
Dickinson College

Professor Richeson will be signing copies of his book, Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology.

Date: 10/21
Location: Whistlestop Bookshop
Time: 6:00-7:30
Light refreshments provided

10/8: Tomorrow's Web
Steve Bratt
Chief Technology Officer of the World Wide Web Consortium

New technology standards will shortly be finalized for the worldwide web. These standards will transform the web as we know it, permitting greater integration of data, an expanding range of web devices, and an explosion of the number of web users and consumers. The future of the web will therefore be a challenging one, rich with both disruption and opportunity.

Date: 10/8
Location: Stafford Lecture Room
Time: 7:00-7:50
This is a Clarke Forum event


10/8: Title TBA
Steve Bratt
Chief Technology Officer of the World Wide Web Consortium

Abstract TBA

Date: 10/8
Location: Tome 231
Time: 11:00-11:50

10/7: Employment and Graduate School Options with a Math or Computer Science Degree
Pat Mullane
Executive Director of Dickinson College Career Center
And
Dick Forrester
Associate Professor of Mathematics, Dickinson College

In this chat we discuss a wide variety of careers for students majoring in mathematics and computer science. Specific information about our recent graduates will be provided. In addition, we will talk about graduate school options, including both master's and Ph.D. degrees in these areas.

Date: 10/7
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

9/30: A Gentle Introduction to Fixed Point Theory
Chris Staecker
Asst. Professor of Mathematical Sciences
Messiah College

We will chat about fixed point theory, the study of points p which do not change when a function is applied: f(p) = p. Motivating examples from calculus, topology, economics, and compiler optimizations will be discussed, along with some surprising and beautiful theorems from topological fixed point theory.

Date: 9/30
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

9/16: Constraints, Conundrums and Convergence: Moving A/V into an IT World to Enhance Education
Dr. Russell Scaduto
Associate Professor of Cellular and Molecular Physiology
Director of Education Technology
Director, MultiMedia Solutions
The Penn State University College of Medicine

This discussion will focus on the challenges faced by higher-education institutions in adopting technical solutions to promote education. The ultimate goals in adopting technology to enhance teaching and learning are two-fold: to minimize the time required to learn and to promote information retention. Can advances in technology help educators achieve these goals? At the basic level, as learners, we assimilate information in an analog format using primarily two sensors, our eyes and ears. The storage and delivery of this information today, however, utilizes digital solutions. The challenges in adopting these technologies in an academic institution can be financial or political, but technical barriers limit what can be achieved. Thus, while these solutions afford new possibilities, technical barriers impose constraints. We will review the use of video technology as a prime example of a relatively new educational approach and discuss its strengths and limitations.

Date: 9/16
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided

9/2: Executing JML Specifications of JavaCard Applications
Tim Wahls
Associate Professor of Computer Science
Dickinson College

Formal specifications are more useful and easier to develop if they are executable. This talk introduces the JML specification language, the jmle tool for executing specifications and the JavaCard application framework, and then describes how jmle was used to execute the specification of an electronic purse application developed for JavaCard. Applying jmle uncovered numerous errors and other specification weaknesses, as well as exposing errors and omissions in the implementation of jmle itself.

Date: 9/2
Location: Tome 115
Time: 12:00-12:50
Lunch provided