Spring 2015

Tuesday, January 27
Professor John MacCormick, Associate Professor of Computer Science
"The Magic of Error-Correcting Codes"

Error detecting and correcting codes are among the most important, yet least appreciated, concepts in computer science. Without these codes, most modern technology would be useless--this includes hard drives, DVDs, wireless networks, and the Internet itself. This talk will explain how error-correcting codes work, without assuming any prior knowledge of mathematics or computer science. So, the next time you upload a photo to Facebook, you will understand how millions of pieces of information got there without a single mistake--despite all the noise in the airwaves and wires between you and Facebook.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Tuesday, February 10
Dr. Rick Mabry, Louisiana State University in Shreveport
"The Pizza Conjecture" ("You can disguise it with pizza, but it's still math!")

The quip in the subtitle above is from Dave Barry's blog, and is but one of many cheesy reactions worldwide to the solution of the Pizza Conjecture, which appeared in 2009. A special case of the actual problem is pictured below.  Cut a pizza into six congruent traditional slices, perhaps by using the instrument of the left. OH NO! You missed the center! If you share this pizza with a friend by taking alternate slices, will you each get your fair share? We'll explore the solution to the problem, along with some of its comedic and combinatoric consequences.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Thursday, February 19
Seth Tracy '12 & James Doyle '10
"An Epic Approach to Digitizing Healthcare"

Join James Doyle '10 and Seth Tracy '12 in a discussion around how their Dickinson education and experiences helped uniquely place them at the junction of two growing fields: medicine and computer science. Learn how the complexities of electronic medical care are approached everyday at Epic and what it means to impact over 180 million people with the code you write. The talk will also include an overview of career opportunities and time for open discussion.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Tuesday, February 24
Professor Dick Forrester, Dickinson College
"Lies, Damned Lies, and Hip Resurfacing Statistics"

Statistics provides us with a methodology for wading through vast amounts of information.  When used correctly, statistics can help us to understand what happened in the past and is useful in predicting what may happen in the future.  However, statistical data can easily be misinterpreted, leading to false assertions.  In this talk he will examine some commonly misconstrued statistical methods, with some of the examples originating from his experience with analyzing the conflicting information about whether or not to have hip resurfacing surgery.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Tuesday, March 17
Professor Annalisa Crannell, Franklin & Marshall
"In the Shadow of Desargues"

Those of us who teach projective geometry often nod to perspective art as the spark from which projective geometry caught fire and grew. This talk looks directly at projective geometry as a tool to illuminate the workings of perspective artists. We will particularly shine the light on Desargues' triangle theorem (which says that any pair of triangles that is perspective from a point is perspective from a line), together with an even simpler theorem (you have to see it to believe it!). Given any convoluted, complicated polygonal object, these theorems allow us to draw that object together with something that is related to it -- its shadow, reflection, or other rigid symmetries -- and we'll show how this works. (If you enjoy doodling or sketching, bring your pencil, a good eraser, and a straightedge.)

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Thursday, March 19
Students in Math 401
"The life and work of Tim Gowers

On March 26 the mathematician Sir Timothy Gowers of the University of Cambridge—a Fields medal recipient and a Fellow of the Royal Society of London—will receive Dickinson College’s Priestley Award. On March 26 and 27 he will meet with Dickinson students and faculty, and he will give several talks and Q&As including a Math/CS chat on March 26 and the Priestley Award lecture on March 26 at 7:00 in the Stern Great Room. (A full itinerary is forthcoming.) 

In preparation for Tim Gowers’s visit Professor Richeson’s Math 401 class has been researching Gowers’s life and work. In this special Math/CS chat the students will discuss Gowers’s biography, his research accomplishments, his work to bringing mathematics to general audiences, his initiative to conduct massively collaborative mathematics, his efforts to reform the dysfunctional world of scholarly publishing, and his writing on his blog and in social media. For more about Tim Gowers visit
http://www.dickinson.edu/info/20032/mathematics/2890/joseph_priestley_award_2015_timothy_gowers.

1:30 p.m.
Tome 118
Snacks provided

Thursday, March 26
Dr. Timothy Gowers, University of Cambridge
"What is dimension?"

We are all familiar with the idea that lines are one-dimensional, planes are two-dimensional, and space is three-dimensional. We can also extrapolate backwards and say that points are zero-dimensional. But mathematicians do not stop at the numbers 0,1,2 and 3: they talk about geometry in n dimensions for any positive integer n, and even geometry in infinitely many dimensions. They also talk about complicated shapes whose dimension is not a whole number. 

It turns out that there are several genuinely different ways of generalizing our familiar notion of dimension, and they are useful in different contexts. I will talk about some of these and try to explain why they are more than just amusing curiosities.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Thursday, March 26
Priestley Lecture
Dr. Timothy Gowers, University of Cambridge
"Can Computers Be Mathematicians?"

The ability to solve mathematical problems is often regarded as mysterious and requiring flashes of inspiration that come from nowhere. Glowers will argue that it is nothing of the kind, and that eventually computers will be better than we are at mathematics.

7:00 p.m. 
Stern Great Room

Friday, March 27
Afternoon Tea with Dr. Timothy Gowers

Please join us for an informal question and answer session with Priestley Award recipient Tim Gowers.  We will be discussing mathematics, computer science, open access journals, and whatever else you might be interested in chatting about.  Arrive with questions or just come and listen to the discussion.  Everyone welcome to attend.

3:00 p.m.
Tome Hall Library (2nd floor)
Refreshments provided

Tuesday, April 14
Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College
"Fitch Cheney's Five-Card Trick and Variations"

Fitch Cheney's classic five-card card trick involves two people Aodh and Bea who are in cahoots: they have agreed in advance on a purely mathematical method of communication.  Five random playing cards are given to Aodh by a random audience member.  Aodh hands one back, places the remaining four in a face-up row on the table.  Bea, who has not been privy to any of the proceedings so far, arrives on the scene, looks at the cards on the table, and promptly names the hidden fifth card.  We discuss the combinatorics of this trick, which dates back to the late 1940s, and extend it to a trick in which Bea names the fourth card of four random ones provided to Aodh, three of which are placed on the table.  We also describe a version that works when Aodh is handed only three random cards. Finally, we demonstrate the ultimate variation: Aodh is given any two cards from a regular deck, and Bea figures out what one of them is!

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Tuesday, April 21
Dr. Kristen Waughen
"Data Mining...The Grocery Store and the Crime Scene"

More data is being collected and at a faster rate than ever before. What can this data tell us? From fact to forecast, data mining is a process that analyzes very large amounts of data and the relationships between variables to create information. Previously, this information was difficult, time consuming or not possible to find. Mathematical algorithms, artificial intelligence, and database management are combined into analytics that drill down through the data in this discovery process. This new information can be used to assist organizations in various industries find business opportunities, create business intelligence (BI), discover competitive advantages, make decisions, and optimize business performance. It is the digital story as told by the data.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 117
Lunch provided


Mathematics & Computer Science Majors Dinner
Professor Tracy McKay - "Some Seemingly Simple Edge Coloring Problems"

Perhaps one of the most well known edge coloring results for graphs is Vizing's Theorem (published in 1964). It states that the minimum number of colors required to properly color the edges of a simple graph is at most one more than the graph's maximum degree. This talk will examine some related edge coloring problems that remain unsolved.

Upsilon Pi Epsilon (Computer Science Honor Society)
Pi Mu Epsilon (Mathematics Honor Society)
Departmental Awards & Prizes

6:00 p.m.
Social Hall West
*Must sign-up by April 15th in Tome 201 or email millert@dickinson.edu

Tuesday, April 28
Honors Defense - Marc Besson
"Generalized Symmetric Spaces of the Modular Group Mm(2)"

Symmetric spaces of Lie groups and Riemannian manifolds have been an area of study since the seminal work of Cartan in the early 19th century, with applications to representation theory, geometry, and number theory.  Though originally defined in terms of Lie groups, the idea of a symmetry space has been generalized to finite groups as well, opening up a new field of research.  In this thesis we find the generalized symmetric space of the modular group.  We begin by determining the structure of the group.  We then establish the automorphism group of the modular group Mm(2) and determine which of these automorphisms are involutions.  Given an involution, we determine the fixed-point group, the generalized symmetric space, and the extended symmetric space.  This work completes the categorization of generalized symmetric spaces for the class of non-Abelian 2-groups which contain a cyclic subgroup of index 2.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Thursday, April 30
Honors Defense - Katie Roy
"Dynamics of the Real Weierstrass Elliptic Function"

In studying dynamical systems, we often use algebraic tools to determine the dynamical behavior of a given function. However, when working with a transcendental function such as the real Weierstrass elliptic function, we must employ different means. In this thesis we utilize the Schwarzian derivative to find an upper bound on the number of attracting fixed points for the family of functions when the constant g3>0. Additionally, we use inherent properties of  to show that the Julia set for this particular class of functions is Cantor when has an attracting fixed point.

12:00 p.m.
Tome 115
Lunch provided

Wednesday, May 6
Mathematics & Computer Science Majors BBQ

12:00 p.m.
Rector Courtyard (Rain Location - Rector Atrium)

Mathematics and Computer Science professors will BBQ hamburgers, hot dogs & veggie burgers. They will also provide side dishes/desserts. Come out and join the fun!