2012 – 2013
Our dear colleague, teacher, and friend, Professor Olga R. Beaver, who passed on in December, was a mainstay of our department and the College. For founding and sustaining the Summer Science Program for admitted students from varied backgrounds and much more, Ollie received the second national Louise Hay Award of the Mathematical Association of America in 1991. We have created an annual Olga R. Beaver Prize in Mathematics for a student for contributions to our department. Ollie’s Memorial Minute delivered by Prof. Susan Loepp at the February faculty meeting may be found at http://math.williams.edu/professor-beavers-memorial-minute/.
Former Professor Edward B. Burger is the new President of Southwestern University. He received an honorary degree at Commencement here. We also bid farewell to our visiting faculty, Andrey Glubokov, Mark Mixer, and Matt Gardner Spencer. Satyan Devadoss has been promoted to Full Professor.
Our student Putnam Exam team, Carlos Dominguez ‘13, Jared Hallett ‘14, and Wei Sun ‘13, coached by Prof. Steven Miller, placed in the top twenty for the third year in a row. Vu Le ‘14, Heidi Chen ‘14, Michael Flynn ‘15, and Yang Lu ‘14, advised by alum Ted Murphy and Prof. Frank Morgan, took second place in the CQA Investment Challenge. Zhang Qiao ‘13, Roshan Sharma ‘13, and Wei Sun ‘13 received honorable mention in COMAP’s Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Williams defeated Middlebury in the annual Green Chicken mathematics competition, with top scorers Jared Hallett ’13, Samantha Petti ’15, and first years Jack Bequeaith ’16 and Sam Donow ‘16, coached by Prof. Miller. Jared also won a Goldwater Scholarship.
We are now one of the largest departments in the College, with a record 68 new junior majors, tied for second with English, behind only Economics (87). We have 31 students in our SMALL research program this summer, just behind last year’s record 33.
Here at Williams on April 6, 2013, some 500 mathematicians, students, and friends attended the Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, back at Williams for its 20th anniversary, organized by Professors Allison Pacelli and Mark Mixer. The invited address was given by Professor Manjul Bhargava of Princeton, introduced by Zane Martin ’13. There were over 200 other talks, 60 by Williams students.
Over a hundred local 10th graders attended our annual MathBlast, dedicated this year to the memory of founder Prof. Beaver. Students and teachers each chose three thirty-minute workshops by Williams faculty, ranging from statistics to the shape of the universe.
We hired two new assistant professors: statistician Briana Heggeseth, a new PhD from UC Berkeley, interested in applications to public health, and applied mathematician Julie Blackwood, from a post-doc at Michigan, interested in applications to ecology. We also appointed new visiting assistant professors Michael Biro, Holley Friedlander, and Ed Hanson.
Three members of our department were on leave 2012-13: Professors Colin Adams (at Williams), Thomas Garrity (at Michigan), and Mihai Stoiciu (at Wisconsin). Professors Satyan Devadoss, Dick De Veaux, Allison Pacelli, and Cesar Silva will be on leave for all or part of 2013-14.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our majors. The Rosenburg Prize for outstanding senior was awarded to Carlos Dominguez ‘13 and James Wilcox 13. Erich Trieschman ‘13 received the Goldberg Prize for best colloquium, on the best strategy for finding your way out of a forest. Will Speer ‘13 received the Wyskiel Award in teaching. Carson Eisenach ‘14 received the Morgan Prize in applied mathematics, and Marty Clarke ‘14 received the Morgan Prize in teaching. Faraz Rahman ’14 received the Kozelka Award for outstanding student of statistics. Zane Martin ’13 received the new Beaver Prize for department service. Benjamin Demeo ’15 and Samantha Petti ‘15 received 1st and 2nd Benedict Prizes for outstanding sophomore. Carlos Dominguez ‘13 and Jared Hallett ‘14, members of our recent top-20 Putnam teams, received the Witte Problem Solving Prize. Joy Jing ’13 and James Wilcox ‘13 received the colloquium attendance prize. Incidentally, Wilcox also received a National Science Foundation graduate fellowship, and Alec Tunnel-Greaves ‘13 a Herchel Smith fellowship.
We would like to thank the members of our student advisory board, SMASAB (Students of Mathematics and Statistics Advisory Board): Craig Corsi ‘14, Philippe Demontigny ‘14, Katy Golvala ‘13, Alec Greaves-Tunnell ‘13, Jared Hallett ‘13, Joy Jing ’13, Zane Martin ‘13, Sandra Shedd ‘13, Kirk Swanson ‘14, Philip Tosteson ‘13, Samuel Tripp ‘14, and James Wilcox ‘13.
Professor Colin Adams was on leave for the 2012-13 academic year. In summer, 2012, he worked with six students and one postdoc on knot theory as part of the SMALL undergraduate research program. They proved that every knot can be placed into a projection that resembles a daisy, called a petal projection. Numerous open questions are generated by this fact, which should prove fruitful for many future research groups. Adams co-organized the UnKnot Conference II in July, at Denison University, an undergraduate knot theory conference, and received an NSF grant to support the conference.
Adams gave talks at a variety of institutions, including the Oberwolfach Research Institute in Germany at a conference on physical knot theory. At the Joint Meetings in January in San Diego, he co-presented a minicourse on teaching an applied topology course. He also produced and performed in mathematical theater at the meetings.
Adams served as co-principal investigator on an NSF grant that funds regional undergraduate math conferences around the U.S. He began his term as an advisory board member for the GTM and UTM series of Springer-Verlag and served on the editorial board of both Involve and the Journal of Knot Theory and its Ramifications. He is currently chair of the George Polya Lecturer Committee and chair of the Frank and Brennie Morgan Undergraduate Research Award Committee.
Professor Satyan Devadoss had a wild and crazy year. His research is in the areas of topology and geometry, on which he gave several invited talks from coast-to-coast. He was also an organizer for the Mathematics Research Community on Discrete and Computational Geometry, a week-long research group which met at Snowbird, Utah. For his contributions, Devadoss was honored as an inaugural Fellow of the AMS this year.
With students, he supervised a SMALL research group on Phylogenetics in summer 2012, taking them to Ohio State for a mathematics conference. His work with Hayley Brooks ‘12 and Kaison Tanabe ’13 resulted in a major-career graphic on Williams alums which was cited by Forbes, Kiplinger, Business Insider, Washington Monthly, and others. Devadoss also appeared on a few radio shows as well (in Vermont and Chicago), which were surreal experiences.
On the Williams front, Professor Devadoss chaired the hiring committee for the department, along with serving on the CEP, and the Committee on Technology in Education. He gave several talks, to Williams alums, to neighboring schools, at WCMA, and to general audiences, including speaking at Daring Change, the tribute to President Jack Sawyer. He’s looking forward to his sabbatical next year at Stanford.
Dick De Veaux continued his work in data mining and gave a variety of talks, invited talks, keynote addresses and workshops on teaching and data mining throughout the United States. He advised Ben Seiler ’13 and Jack Ervasti ‘13 on their theses and co-advised Chris Picardo ‘13 on his. He continued serving as the representative of the Council of Sections to the Board of Directors of the American Statistical Association. He also took 10 students to France in January for his Winter Study course “The History, Geography and Economics of the Wines of France.”
Professor Thomas Garrity spent the year at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor while on sabbatical. He continued his research in number theory. His book Algebraic Geometry: A Problem Solving Approach, with co-authors Richard Belshoff, Lynette Boos, Ryan Brown, Carl Lienert, David Murphy, Junalyn Navarra-Madsen, Pedro Poitevin, Shawn Robinson, Brian A. Snyder and Caryn Werner, was published by the American Mathematical Society in February. This book is both innovative in its presentation of algebraic geometry and in how it was written (explaining in part the large number of co-authors). His book Electricity and Magnetism for Mathematicians: A Guided Path from Maxwell to Yang-Mills, has been accepted for publication by Cambridge University Press. He spent most of July of 2012, as he will for July 2013, at the Park City Mathematics Institute (PCMI) in Park City, Utah, as a member of PCMI’s steering committee. In July he gave a talk at PCMI. In October, he gave two talks at Hillsdale College. Also in October, he gave a talk in the University of Michigan’s Geometry and Physics seminar, while in December he gave a talk in the University of Michigan’s algebraic geometry seminar. In January he spoke in the continued fractions special session at joint meetings of the AMS-MAA in San Diego. In February he spoke at Penn State, The Behrend College. In March he presented, with Colin Adams, The Great Pi/E Debate and gave a colloquium lecture at the University of North Carolina at Asheville. In April, he gave two talks at the University of Toledo, one in the several complex variables seminar and the other in the department colloquium. He also spoke in April at the University of Michigan at Flint.
Professor Stewart Johnson continues his research in dynamical systems, modeling, and optimal control. He is currently developing computational methods for optimal control problems, and investigating massively parallel computing platforms.
Professor Johnson remains active in the college-wide Quantitative Studies program which provides early identification and intervention for students with quantitative challenges.
Prof. Klingenberg was co-presenter in a two-day short course on ordinal categorical data modeling at the Deming Conference in Atlantic City and at the Joint Statistical Meetings in San Diego, where he also gave an invited talk on simultaneous inference with binary data. He presented a similar talk at the Statistics Department of the University of Milan in Italy. During the year, Prof. Klingenberg published on the topic of computers in education and, together with Ville Satopää ‘11, a paper on comparing margins for multivariate binary data that appeared in Computational Statistics and Data Analysis. He presented lectures on analyzing 2×2 contingency tables and on related topics at Colby College and at various occasions at Williams. Prof. Klingenberg continued to serve as a statistical consultant for the pharmaceutical industry and small businesses around the US and locally for students and faculty at Williams. For the Williams MathBlast event for high school students, Prof. Klingenberg gave a talk on whether one can distinguish if milk or tea was poured first into a cup.
Susan Loepp continued to enjoy her research in commutative algebra. In the last year, she had two papers accepted into refereed mathematics research journals, both papers joint with undergraduate students. She also advised the senior honors thesis of Philip Tosteson ‘13.
Loepp served as the 2013 SMALL director. In November 2012, Loepp attended the Field of Dreams conference in Phoenix, Arizona. The FOD conference is particularly aimed at underrepresented minorities in the mathematical sciences. At the conference, Loepp served on a panel for directors of summer mathematics programs, and set up and manned a table for SMALL at the REU fair. In January, Loepp attended the National Mathematics Meetings in San Diego, where she enjoyed attending research talks in commutative algebra.
Professor Steven Miller was glad to return from sabbatical, teaching Probability and Linear Programming in the fall, two sections of Multivariable Calculus in the spring, winter studies on cryptography and (joint with Professor Strauch in Physics) Star Trek, as well as independent studies both semesters. He supervised Joy Jing’s, ‘13 thesis on Benford’s law, co-supervised (with Professor De Veaux) Chris Picardo’s ‘13 thesis on PITCHf/x and clustering, was the second reader for Scott Sanderson’s ‘13 thesis on computability, and had 9 summer REU students. He continued his research in number theory, random matrix theory, probability and other fields, with 9 papers appearing in print, several more accepted, and with his students gave over 30 talks, including the keynote address to the Massachusetts Math Teachers Association. Miller continues to be active in educational outreach activities. His math riddles page, http://mathriddles.williams.edu, is one of the top hits when googling ‘math riddles’, and is used by teachers in classes from K-12 all over the world. He gave a course on ‘A-ha’ moments in math and science to junior high and high school teachers in the Teachers As Scholars program, has written several modules on mathematics and computation for high school units, and has finished or had 4 books go under contract.
Professor Frank Morgan is continuing his study of minimal surfaces, densities, and tilings with a number of collaborators and his undergraduate research Geometry Group.
Professor Allison Pacelli continued her research in algebraic number theory. She developed and taught a new course for non-majors called The Beauty of Numbers, and is writing an accompanying text. Pacelli has also become involved in professional development for elementary and secondary school teachers as part of the new Common Core Curriculum that has been adopted in most states. She volunteered at the Williamstown Elementary School in October, and introduced teachers there to Singapore Math.
Pacelli was the Chair of the Steering Committee for the 20th Annual Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (HRUMC), which was hosted at Williams College on April 6, with over 200 talks in nearly 20 parallel sessions. Over 400 students and faculty from over 40 institutions attended the conference. Manjul Bhargava gave the keynote address.
Pacelli was the recipient of an MAA Dolciani Mathematics Enrichment Grant to begin a new one-week math camp at Williams for mathematically gifted high school students. The first year of the Williams College Math Camp will take place on campus in July 2013.
Professor Cesar Silva started the summer as director of the SMALL program, where he supervised a group of six students in research in ergodic theory, and also taught in the Summer Science Program. He also co-organized a conference at Williams in Ergodic Theory, funded by an NSF grant, the Hagey Family Chair and by the Dean of the Faculty’s office. There were 16 speakers including speakers from France, Israel, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, and Ukraine. Two of his undergraduate research students gave talks at this conference.
In the academic year he taught Real Analysis, where he used a draft of the book he is writing, Chaos and Fractals, and Topology.
In December he participated in the MathBlast Williams workshop for 10th graders from Mount Greylock Regional High School and BART where he presented “Fractals and Natural Shapes.”
Silva gave several talks including the mathematics colloquium at the University of North Carolina in November. He was a member of the Review Committee of the Mathematics Department at City College New York. He published a paper in Nonlinearity coauthored with his students and based on research in the SMALL program, and submitted other works that are in the process of being reviewed.
Professor Mihai Stoiciu spent his sabbatical year at the University of Wisconsin Madison, where he worked on projects in Approximation Theory and Probability. At Madison, Stoiciu gave two seminar talks and two colloquia and participated in the Analysis and Probability Seminars, as well as in the RTG Seminar on mathematical fluid mechanics and applications.
During the year, Stoiciu was invited to give scientific talks at the Institute for Mathematics and Applications Minneapolis, at the 9th AIMS Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications in Orlando, at University of Minnesota, University of Alabama, Queen’s University in Kingston Ontario, at Harvard University, and at Michigan State University. During February and March, Stoiciu visited several research institutions in Europe and gave talks at Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, at Institut de Mathematiques de Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France, and at Universite de Cergy-Pontoise, Cergy-Pontoise, France.
In May 2013, Stoiciu participated, as a member of the AMS Menger Prize Committee in the International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) and was also a member of the Special Judging Team, which awarded the 2013 Intel ISEF Grand Awards. After a year of traveling to several research institutions and conferences, Stoiciu is excited to return to Williams College in July 2013.
Professor Qing (Wendy) Wang just completed her first year at Williams College, and she has been greatly enjoying her life at Williams. She taught two sections of Intro Stats (STAT 101) in the fall semester and an upper-level Bayesian Statistics course (STAT 341) in spring. During the past year, she continued her collaboration with Dr. Bruce Lindsay from Penn State University and resubmitted a paper on U-statistics and cross validation to Statistic Sinica. She presented her completed research work at the Joint Statistical Meetings in August 2012 and the Eastern North American Region (ENAR) spring meeting in March 2013. In addition, she is finishing up a paper on kernel density estimation. She is going to present her newly conducted research as an invited speaker at the IMS-China International Conference on Statistics and Probability which will take place this summer in Chengdu, China.