Fall 2007

[12/6] [11/27] [11/6] [10/24] [10/11] [10/2] [9/26] [9/18] [9/14] [9/11] [9/4]

12/6: Study Abroad in Mathematics and Computer Science

Dickinson College students: Katie Lang, Christian Millichap, Mike Olasin, Mark Veronda

**Note: during common hour**: Thursday, Dec. 6, 12:00-1:00, Tome 117

Are you thinking about studying abroad, but aren't sure how this would contribute to your mathematics and/or computer science major? Or would you just like to hear about the study abroad experiences of fellow majors who have been there and done that? Then join us for an interactive panel discussion of study abroad in mathematics and computer science.

11/27: The Neurodynamics of Decision Making
Ritwik Niyogi
Dickinson College and McClelland Laboratory, Center for Mind, Brain and Computation, and Department of Psychology, Stanford University

Much research on decision making has focused on optimal outcomes and not on the dynamics of the decision processes. Research presented in this talk seeks to understand how the dynamical processes underlying decision making are distributed in the brain, and how these dynamics cause the approximate optimality often observed in behavior, under what conditions optimal behavior is promoted, what causes deviations from it and how adaptive goals shape these dynamics. Neural networks and a dynamical systems approach is employed to investigate the mechanisms of human and animal decision making, and its implementation in the brain.

11/6: Game Theory and Checkers -or- Why Checkers is for Chumps?
Brian Lins
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Dickinson College

Recently, a team lead by Jonathan Schaeffer proved that in the game of checkers, perfect play by both players will lead to a draw. Schaeffer has also developed a checkers playing program that cannot be beaten. In this chat, we will discuss the mathematical theory known as game theory and see how it relates to Schaeffer's new proof. Game theory proves that any zero sum two player game, like checkers, has an optimal strategy. Finding that optimal strategy can be difficult however. We will look at the history of game theory, some of the big ideas in game theory, and we will also see how these ideas relate to some well known games like rock-paper-scissors, checkers, and chess.

10/24: The Ballot Problem: A Reflection on its History, its Proofs and a Generalization
Marc Renault
Department of Mathematics
Shippensburg University

**Note special time**: 5:00-6:00

In 1887 probabilist Joseph Bertrand introduced the ballot problem:

Suppose that two candidates, Alice and Bob, are in an election.  Alice receives a  votes, Bob receives b votes,  a > b, and Alice wins the election.  In how many ways can the  a + b  ballots be ordered so that throughout the counting of the ballots Alice maintains a lead over Bob?

Bertrand knew that the solution was   but he lacked a good proof, and asked if anyone could find one.  Shortly after Bertrand’s challenge, Désiré André provided an elegant solution.

Today many proofs exist, but the most famous is known as André’s Reflection Principle.  During this talk we will look at some of the history surrounding this problem, we will examine André’s original proof along with other proofs, and we will see how these proofs can (or can’t) be used to solve the “generalized ballot problem.”

10/11: Lipidomics and the Alliance for Cellular Signaling: A Primer on Systems Biology
(this colloquium is cosponsored with the Biology Department)
Jeff Forrester
Dickinson college

**Note special location, date and time**: Dana 110 at 4:30 PM on Thurs, Oct 11th

The Alliance for Cellular Signaling (AfCS) was a NIGMS sponsored large-scale collaborative effort award (glue grant) charged with the daunting task "to understand fully how cells interpret signals in a context-dependent manner." This work required the integration of data from several measurement platforms: microscopy, cAMP concentration, phosphoprotein blotting, calcium traces, lipid profiling (lipidomics) and changes in protein and gene expression. The analysis utilized a broad range of techniques taken from mathematical modeling, bioinformatics, and computer science. This talk presents an overview of the modeling efforts employed by the AfCS during the first five years after its inception and discusses lessons learned from this multi-institutional project.

10/2: GenJam
(this colloquium is cosponsored with the Music Department)
Al Biles
Rochester Institute of Technology

**Note special time**: Computer Science presentation and demo: 3:00, Depot

**Note special time**: Music presentation and demo: 7:30, Depot

GenJam, the "Genetic Jammer," is a real-time interactive performance system that uses evolutionary computation to model a straight ahead jazz improviser. GenJam evolves populations of licks under the guidance of a human mentor and uses these licks to improvise over arbitrary chord progressions. In performance GenJam listens to Al play trumpet, maps what it hears Al play to chromosomes that represent measures and phrases, and evolves those chromosomes in real time during the performance to create its improvisations.

Al Biles is a professor and the Undergraduate Program Coordinator in the Information Technology department at RIT. He has been developing GenJam since 1993 and has performed with it all over the world. GenJam is featured in a new book from Springer-Verlag, Evolutionary Computer Music, which Al co-edited. For a preview, visit the GenJam Web site.

9/26: Research challenges for the 21st Century Internet
Vinton Cerf
Vice President & Chief Internet Evangelist
Google

**Note special time**: 1:30-2:30

We will look at a variety of research problems associated with the evolving Internet. Some of these are in the core infrastructure (domain names, routing, internet address allocation and assignment, introduction of IPv6, introduction of DNSSEC). We will also turn to the problem of preserving access to and ability to make use of the digital content of the Internet (this is the Bit Rot problem, to give it a label). We will also look at mobility, use of broadcast media, the effects of digital economics on the video distribution and the television business (following similar changes in the audio business).

9/18: What does a Computer Program Mean?
Gene Chase
Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science
Messiah College

Defends mathematics as the most appropriate way to provide the semantics of a programming language. Shows how a good semantics of computer programs is similar to semantics in mathematical logic and in natural languages.

9/14: The Proof
A showing of the NOVA special. From the NOVA website: For over 350 years, some of the greatest minds of science struggled to prove what was known as Fermat's Last Theorem -- the idea that a certain simple equation had no solutions. Now hear from the man who spent seven years of his life cracking the problem, read the intriguing story of an 18th century woman mathematician who hid her identity in order to work on Fermat's Last Theorem, and demonstrate that a related equation, the Pythagorean Theorem, is true.

9/11: Senior Information Session
Pat Mullane
Dickinson College Career Center

The session covers career exploration, job search and the recruiting program, graduate and professional school, important upcoming events, Career Center services, and major-specific information

9/4: Careers in Actuarial Science
Tim Patota '00
Enrolled Actuary
Conrad Siegel Actuaries

This session will give an overview of each of the major practice areas for actuaries and include examples of typical 'actuarial problems' encountered in each field. We will consider the merits (and the realities) of choosing actuarial work as a career path. We will also take a look at what challenges the profession might face in the decades to come.