2011 – 2012
The Mathematics and Statistics department had another great year. Professor Susan Loepp was awarded the 2012 Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching by the Mathematical Association of America, a national teaching prize. Professor Steven Miller was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. Other accomplishments of our faculty are listed below. Our student team placed in the top ten and received an Honorable Mention out of 460 teams from 572 participating colleges and universities in the December 2011 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. This year we had 67 students sign up as new mathematics majors, our largest number so far. We also admitted 33 students to our SMALL summer research program, our largest number yet. This is the last year of Professor Silva as chair and the start of Professor Johnson’s tenure as chair of the department.
We hired a new statistician, Assistant Professor Wendy Wang, who comes to us from Pennsylvania State University. We also appointed Mark Mixer and Matt Gardner Spencer as new Visiting Assistant Professors of Mathematics. Four members of our department were on leave this past year. Ollie Beaver spent the fall at Williams. Edward Burger spent the year at Baylor University. Bernhard Klingenberg spent the fall at the University of Salzburg in Austria and the spring at the Institute of Statistics at the TU Graz in Austria. Susan Loepp spent the year at Williams. Steven Miller spent the year at Smith and Mount Holyoke. Ollie Beaver returned to teaching this spring. We look forward to the return of Ed Burger, Bernhard Klingenberg, Susan Loepp and Steven Miller in fall 2012. Next year Professors Colin Adams, Thomas Garrity and Mihai Stoiciu will be on leave for the year, and Professor Ed Burger will be on leave in the spring.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our majors. The Rosenburg Prize for outstanding senior was awarded to Liyang Zhang ’12. Erik Levinsohn ’12 and Niralee Shah ‘12 received the Goldberg Prize for the best colloquium; this year the department awarded honorable mention in the Goldberg prize to Patrick Aquino ’12, Carolyn Geller ’12, David Gold ’12, Stephanie Jensen ’12, Andrew Nguyen ’12, Sidney Luc Robinson ’12, Tarjinder Singh ’12, and Matthew Staiger ‘12. Patrick Aquino ‘12 was awarded the Morgan Prize for teaching, and Gregory White ‘12 was awarded the Morgan Prize in applied mathematics. Hannah Hausman ’12 received the Robert M. Kozelka Award for outstanding students of statistics. The Witte Problem Solving Prize went to the members of this year’s Putnam Team: Carlos Dominguez ’13, Jared Hallett ’14 and Liyang Zhang ’12. Jared Hallett ’14 first, and Craig Corsi ’14 and Yang Lu ’14 second, were awarded the Benedict Prize for outstanding sophomore. Connor Stern ‘12 was awarded the Wyskiel Prize for a student who chooses a career in teaching. Finally, Liyang Zhang ’12 was awarded the colloquium attendance prize for seniors. Tara Deonauth ‘13 and Christina Knapp ’13 were awarded the colloquium attendance prize for non-seniors.
The members of our student advisory board, SMASAB (Students of Mathematics and Statistics Advisory Board), were Alexander Greaves-Tunnell ’13, Jared Hallett ’14, Hannah Hausman ’12, Christina Knapp ’13, Stephanie Jensen ’12, and Chansoo Lee ’12. They provided sage advice including help in our hiring process, in addition to organizing the department’s ice cream socials. This year one of our majors, Liyang Zhang ’12 was awarded Honorable Mention in the National Science Foundation graduate fellowships in mathematics.
In summer 2011, Colin Adams attended and spoke at the meeting on “Knots: Form and Function” at the Centro De Research di Giorgio in Pisa, Italy. Over the academic year, 2011-12, he gave a variety of talks. In particular, Tom Garrity and Colin Adams performed and recorded the Derivative vs. Integral Debate at Williams Family Days, with President Falk as moderator. The DVD is now on sale through the Mathematical Association of America. During spring break, Adams and Tom Garrity traveled to Wisconsin to give their humorous math debates at a variety of schools.
Adams published four papers, three with students from the SMALL program. He also worked with Tom Crawford ’12 who wrote a thesis on finding knots with disjoint totally knotted Seifert surfaces. He continued to serve as a co-principal investigator on a grant that supports undergraduate math conferences around the country. In the spring he taught knot theory to a record 45 students. In summer 2012, he will work with six students and a Korean postdoc on original research as part of the SMALL program.
In summer 2011, Professor Ollie Beaver taught in and coordinated the mathematics component of Williams Summer Science Program. During the academic year, Beaver continued her involvement in the Quantitative Studies program at Williams. She was again chair of the Winter Study Committee. In January Beaver attended the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston and was an invited panelist on the National Science Foundation Panel for Graduate Fellowships in Mathematical Sciences.
Professor Elizabeth Beazley has now completed her second year at Williams, and she has continued to find the Williams math department an exciting place to grow her research program. Following a workshop on “Algebraic Combinatorixx” at the Banff International Research Station in Alberta, Canada, she has initiated several research collaborations in the areas of quantum and equivariant Schubert calculus, including one which grew out of a Class of 60s visit to Williamstown in March 2012. She had one paper appear this year in the January edition of the Journal of Algebra titled “Affine Deligne-Lusztig varieties associated to additive affine Weyl group elements.” In addition, her paper “Maximal Newton polygons via the quantum Bruhat graph” was accepted to the Formal Power Series and Algebraic Combinatorics conference to be held in Nagoya, Japan in July 2012, resulting in a conference proceedings publication in Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science. She was also especially pleased to take eight Williams undergraduates to two research conferences in September 2012 at Brown University and Smith College.
Professor Edward Burger spent the academic year 2011–2012 at Baylor University as Vice Provost for Strategic Educational Initiatives and Visiting Professor of Mathematics. He also served as an educational consultant for both The University of Texas at Austin and Winston-Salem State University. In the summer of 2011, Burger was a faculty member of Williams’ Summer Humanities and Social Sciences Program.
Burger’s appearance on the Today Show series “The Science of the Winter Olympics” (co-sponsored by the NSF), earned him a 2011 Telly Award (and the entire series won an Emmy Award). Also in 2011 he received a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Association of Educational Publishers, recognizing Fuse—his mathematics video textbooks for mobile devices, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. In 2012 Burger was featured in three episodes of the NBC-TV/NSF series “The Science of NHL Hockey” (Vectors, Statistics & Averages, and Kinematics) shown on the Today Show as well as throughout the NHL 2012 season.
In 2012 Burger published A Generalization of a Theorem of Lekkerkerker to Ostrowski’s Decomposition of Natural Numbers with undergraduate co-authors David C. Clyde, Cory H. Colbert, Gea Hyun Shin ’11, and Zhaoning Wang ’11 in Acta Arithmetica 153 (2012) pp 217–249. With Michael Starbird, he completed a book on teaching, learning, and creativity entitled, The 5 Elements of Effective Thinking, to be published by Princeton University Press. Burger and Starbird also completed work on the fourth edition of their textbook, The Heart of Mathematics: An invitation to effective thinking. Also in 2012, he starred in Math on the Spot, the first math video app developed exclusively for the Apple iPhone, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Burger delivered over 40 addresses in the past year including five keynote addresses at MAA and NCTM Sectional Meetings, one of the keynote addresses at the MAA 2011 MathFest in Lexington, KY, the closing keynote address at the 2012 NCTM Annual Conference in Philadelphia, PA, the 2011 Robert L. Moore Lecture at The University of Texas in Austin, and the “Charge” address at the Phi Beta Kappa induction ceremony at Baylor University. He also addressed all first-year cadets at West Point Academy at the opening of the 2011–2012 academic year, and spoke at the Benjamin Franklin Society in Vero Beach, FL.
Professor Satyan Devadoss had another year filled with wonder. His research is in the areas of discrete topology and geometry, on which he gave several invited talks from coast-to-coast, along with giving a two-day short-course on this subject at the national meeting for mathematicians in Boston. Several of his papers appeared in print this year, including one on the shape of associativity (Canadian Notes), one on the structure of trees (European Conference on Computational Geometry), and one on the nature of infinity (Esopus Magazine).
On the Williams front, Professor Devadoss gave several talks, to alums, to students, and to general audiences. With students, he supervised a SMALL research group on Geometric Origami in summer 2011, taking them to Toronto for a computational geometry conference. Devadoss also advised Brian Li’s senior thesis on Polygonal Linkages, taught his first tutorial on Phylogenetics, and offered a winter study course on Visualization (of the Williams curriculum). With faculty, he served as an official mentor, along with participating in his first Oakley center seminar (on Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age, the hardest reading imaginable). He’s looking forward to the next year.
Professor Richard 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 and Europe. He advised Ville Satopӓӓ on his thesis. He was elected to the Board of Directors of the American Statistical Association in May 2012 for a three year term.
Professor Thomas Garrity has continued his research in number theory. His article, “Using Mathematical Maturity to Shape Our Teaching, Our Careers and Our Departments” appeared in the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. His DVD debate “Derivative vs. Integral: The Final Smackdown”, with Colin Adams and moderated by Adam Falk, was released through the Mathematical Association of America. In July 2011 he spoke to students at the Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics. In September, he gave a colloquium at Bennington College. In March 2012, with Colin Adams, he gave various versions of their debates at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, at Ripon College and at the Madison Area Technical College. He gave a colloquium and a faculty seminar at TCU in April 2012. In May 2012, Colin Adams and he gave a debate at Framingham State University. In the summer of 2011 he led a group of seven students (Krishna Dasaratha from Harvard. Laure Flapan from Yale, Chansoo Lee ‘12 from Williams, Cornelia Mihaila from Wellesley, Nicholas Neumann-Chun ‘13 from Williams, Sarah Peluse from Lake Forest and the University of Chicago and Matt Stoffregen from the University of Pittsburgh) in SMALL. A number of papers will eventually result from this work. His book Algebraic Geometry: A Problem Solving Approach, with co-authors Richard Belshoff, Lynette Boos, Ryan Brown, Jim Drouihlet, Carl Lienert, David Murphy, Junalyn Navarra-Madsen, Pedro Poitevin, Shawn Robinson, Brian A. Snyder and Caryn Werner has been accepted for publication by the American Mathematical Society. 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). He learned quite a bit from his two thesis students, Stephanie Jenson ‘12 and Noah Goldberg ‘12. He has joined the steering committee for the Park City Mathematics Institute. Finally, he continues being the co-director of Williams’ Project for Effective Teaching (Project PET).
Professor Stewart Johnson continues his research in dynamical systems, modeling, and optimal control with a focus on systems that exhibit continuous and discrete behavior. He is currently developing computational methods for optimal control problems.
Professor Johnson remains active in the college-wide Quantitative Studies program which provides early identification and intervention for students with quantitative challenges.
Professor Bernhard Klingenberg spent the fall as a Visiting Professor at the University of Salzburg, Austria and the Spring as a Visiting Professor at the Institute of Statistics at the TU Graz, Austria. Over the year, he was invited to give short courses on Applied Statistics, Categorical Data Analysis, and Mathematical Statistics and he organized a special course on Ordinal Categorical Data. He presented his newest methodological results in the analysis of correlated binary data at the Austrian Statistics Days 2011. In addition, he offered consulting services to medical faculty at the Medical University of Graz, Austria. His paper on simultaneous inference for proportions appeared in the journal Computational Statistics & Data Analysis.
Professor Susan Loepp was a recipient of the 2012 Mathematical Association of America’s Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics. In January, she accepted the award and gave a talk at the National Mathematics meetings in Boston. In addition, in January, 2012, Loepp began a 5-year term as an associate editor for the Mathematical Monthly.
In summer, 2011, Loepp served as the SMALL director and advised the SMALL 2011 Commutative Algebra group. The group members, Ji Won Ahn ‘12, Elizabeth Ferme, Feiqi Jiang, and Gian Thi Huong Tran proved several original results in commutative algebra. They have written a manuscript based on their results and have submitted the paper to a refereed research journal in mathematics. Ji Won and Feiqi presented their results at the undergraduate research poster session at the National Mathematics meetings, and won an “Outstanding Presentation” award by placing in the top 15% of the poster presentations. In the spring of 2012, the paper written by the 2009 SMALL Commutative Algebra group, Nick Arnosti ‘11, Rachel Karpman, Caitlin Leverson, and Jake Levinson ‘11, appeared in the Journal of Commutative Algebra.
Last summer Professor Steven Miller supervised 9 summer REU students in the SMALL program. This led to 3 accepted papers, 3 submitted papers, 4 works in progress, and 25 talks by his students at various conferences, including an honorable mention at the Young Mathematicians Conference at Ohio State (his former thesis student, Jake Levinson ’11, received first place there for his thesis work).
Miller was on sabbatical last year, and is glad to be back. He continued his research in number theory, random matrix theory and probability, had 8 papers appear and several more accepted, and gave 19 talks. He also designed some new classes at Smith and Mount Holyoke to bring back to Williams; one of these, Advanced Applied Linear Algebra, will be taught in the fall.
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 cryptography and Benford’s law to junior high and high school teachers in the Teachers As Scholars program, and gave talks at junior high and high schools.
Professor Frank Morgan has a new blog at the Huffington Post. He is continuing his study of minimal surfaces and densities with a number of collaborators and his undergraduate research Geometry Group. A joint paper with eight students on “Optimal Pentagonal Tiling” appeared in Notices of the American Mathematical Society, May 2012.
Professor Allison Pacelli was on maternity leave during the fall semester, and was thrilled to welcome her new son Andy into the world last July. Pacelli returned to campus this spring, teaching a senior seminar in Algebraic Number Theory and a tutorial in Galois Theory.
Professor Cesar Silva completed his third year as chair of the department. He continued his research in ergodic theory. He supervised the thesis of Praphruetpong (Ben) Athiwaratkun ‘12, and the research in the spring of Christina Knapp ’13 concerning a survey paper on the uncountability of the unit interval. Silva taught Calculus II in the fall, and Ergodic Theory in the spring, where he used his book on the subject. 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.” He published a paper in Colloquium Mathematicum based on research with his students and had another paper submitted for publication. He was invited to present a lecture at a conference in memory of Jal Choksi at McGill University in June.
In the summer he supervised a research group in ergodic theory whose members were Ke Cai, Jared Hallett ’14, Lucas Manuelli and Sun Wei.
Professor Mihai Stoiciu taught “Groups and Characters” and “Differential Geometry” during the Fall Semester and two sections of “Applied Real Analysis” during the Spring Semester of the Academic Year 2011-2012. Also, Stoiciu supervised Gregory White ‘12, who wrote an undergraduate thesis titled “Stochastic Calculus and Applications to Mathematical Finance” and Liyang Zhang ‘12 whose thesis was titled “Spectral Theory for Matrix Orthogonal Polynomials on the Unit Circle.”
During the year, Stoiciu continued his research on spectral properties of random and deterministic operators, working with collaborators from UK and US. His paper “Some Spectral Applications of McMullen’s Hausdorff Dimension Algorithm,” written with collaborators from Durham University, UK, was accepted for publication in the journal “Conformal Geometry and Dynamics.” He was invited to present his research at the AMS Special Session on “Spectral Theory” in Tampa, FL and was an invited participant in the “Arizona School of Analysis and Mathematical Physics” at the University of Arizona in Tucson, AZ.
In October 2011 Stoiciu gave the plenary address at Mid-Hudson Mathematics Conference for Undergraduates at Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY. At Williams College, Stoiciu gave two talks at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in the “Frontiers of Science” Program, a talk for high school students at the Williams MathBlast 2011, and a faculty seminar on his recent research in spectral theory.