Imagine a SARS outbreak in quaint Williamstown – that’s exactly what Varun Bhadkamkar ’17, Anthony Brooks ’16, Jack Ferguson ’17, Connor Mulhall ’17, and Annie Sher ’17 did in their Math 307 final project. The SARS group built a network model of the Williams College undergraduate population, grouping individuals by dorms and dining halls, assuming that’s where the majority of transmission would take place. Using their model, they determined that one infected individual could lead to an all-out epidemic infecting nearly 97% of the undergraduate population if no intervention policies were implemented. Knowing that the Williams administration would never let the entire campus get infected, they went to look at various interventions and determined that those that reduce contact with infected individuals, such as wearing face masks, would be able to quell the epidemic. In total in Math 307 there were nine groups investigating nine separate diseases with a wide range of questions such as: can the anti-vaccination movement lead to re-emergence of measles in the US? How would response to government intervention affect the Ebola epidemic in West Africa? Is vaccination or treatment the best way to help lions infected with canine disease temper virus? Which part of the immune response will have the most impact on levels of mono? How should the government prioritize treatment in countries with high levels of TB? What drives the different dynamics of two similar STDs – syphilis and gonorrhea? And can new vaccines for malaria and dengue really lead to elimination? If you’re interested in learning more, contact Prof Childs at lmc4@williams.edu.

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The Doddceum celebration for Frank Morgan included live music by Scott Daniel ’17 and Jack Hood ’18, a six-foot life-size cutout of the guest of honor, a slide show with pictures of Frank Morgan and Dodd Neighborhood in action, a throwback to the viral “Dancing the Parkway” video, a speech by Karen Huan ’16, Dodd Neighborhood director and proud Mathematics major, lots of great food and delectable desserts.

As per Doddceum tradition, we closed with haikus:

*The last Doddceum*

*Frank Morgan on his way out?*

*Oh boy, what is life?*

-Naomi Francois ’17

*We’ll miss a loved man*

*One so dear and integral,*

*One who leaves a rift.*

*Gentle, masterful*

*Lord of the pretty bubbles,*

*Floats away as one.*

-Ali Tafreshi ’15

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Kozelka Prize in statistics: Bryan Jones and Kelly Kung (awarded by Prof. De Veaux, Associate Chair for Statistics)

Morgan Prize in applied mathematics: Alex Meyer (awarded by Prof. Blackwood)

Wyskiel Prize in teaching: Mia Smith

Olga Beaver Prize in citizenship: Roger Vargas (awarded by Prof. Don Beaver)

Goldberg Prize for best colloquium: Alex Kling and Olivia Meyerson

Colloquium Attendance Prizes: Ashwin Narayan and Sarah Fleming

Witte Problem-solving Prize: Blake Mackall (awarded by Prof. Palsson)

1^{st} Benedict Prize for outstanding sophomore: Anna Neufield and Harry Zhang

2^{nd} Benedict Prize: Sumun Iyer, Andrew Scharf, and Weitao Zhu

The Rosenberg prize for outstanding senior will be announced later. Added May 19: It’s Greg Kehne, Peter McDonald, and Mia Smith!

Seniors offered advice, including:

Blake Mackall: “Hard problems are good because you’re learning.”

Sarah Wu: “Get a tutor.”

Ben Kaufman: “Don’t write “clearly” or “obviously” unless you’re really sure.”

Matt Tarduno: “Don’t use PowerPoint for colloquium.”

Joel Lee: “Use pass-fail.”

Alex Meyer: “Sometimes doing the really hard problem set is worth it; sometimes it isn’t.”

Greg Ferland: “Keep a diary.”

Peter McDonald: “Thesis.”

Roger Vargas: “Limit use of beverage wrench.”

Jon Yin: “Don’t let school get in the way of your education.”

Katie Bennett: “Math is a great place to make friends.”

Next year’s 200 majors (102 rising juniors and 98 rising seniors) is an all-time record and makes us the second largest department at Williams after Economics (213).

Prof. Morgan thanked departing faculty Profs. Don Beaver, Satyan Devadoss, Eyvi Palsson, and Lauren Childs and welcomed Prof. Susan Loepp as new chair on her 20th anniversary at Williams. Prof. Loepp thanked Prof. Morgan for his service, presented him with a picture of his department family, and distributed signature soap bubbles to all:

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Your favorite math problem/phenomenon/pretty graph or knot.

A great joke about math.

The longest amount of time you’ve ever spent on a problem set.

The time you were closest to quitting, and how you kept going.

Why math?

*Nina Pande ’17, Katie Bennet ’16, and Sarah Fleming ’17 are math majors and officers of the Williams Chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics*

**An Unconventional Path **by Sarah Fleming ’17

For most of her life, Pam Harris had no plans to become a mathematician. Brought to the United States from Mexico at the age of eight, she had no prospects of attending university after graduating high school because of her immigration status. As she still wanted to continue her education, Pam began taking classes at Milwaukee Area Technical College, a community college near her home. She originally set out thinking she would become an art teacher because she had had several influential art teachers throughout her education. To complete her degree, though, she needed to take a math class, so she enrolled in college algebra. To her surprise, she enjoyed it so much that she decided to use her remaining elective credits to take trigonometry and three courses in calculus. She soon graduated from community college with associate degrees in art and science, and she longed for an opportunity to take more math courses.

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*John Damstra is a senior mathematics major at Williams College.*

There are 12 problems on the Putnam; students have 6 hours, 3 in the morning, followed by a two hour break for lunch and to recharge, and then another 6 problems over 3 hours in the afternoon. Each is worth 10 points. Check out the problems and solutions from the 2015 compeition. The median score was a 0.

If you are interested in math puzzles and competitions e-mail Professor Palsson and come join us at the weekly math puzzle dinners on Wednesdays in Mission at 5:30 PM.

]]>Dimensions 8 and 24 are especially interesting and easy cases, because there are very symmetric, very efficient ways of packing the spheres together, so good that it makes it much easier to prove that you cannot do any better.

Read my column on dimension 8 at The Huffington Post.

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I am writing from my homeland Montenegro, a small country in the Balkans, and in this post I just wanted to give a perspective from someone who now lives far away from Williams.

I am class of 2008, and I decided to go to Williams after attending Li Po Chun UWC in Hong Kong. I always wanted to study math, the only question was whether I would choose a second major. After experimenting a bit with physics and computer science, and due to my wish to spend my junior year studying abroad, I decided to stick with “just” math. When I arrived at Williams, I didn’t quite understand the Liberal Arts concept – I couldn’t comprehend why I was not allowed to take more math courses immediately in the first year, nor did I understand the purpose of compulsory writing intensive courses given my major of choice. It took me a while to understand that those courses are essential for any career you choose, and especially for an academic.

Fast forward four years, and I made a decision to come back to Montenegro. I was at the crossroads of my life, and I thought that if I stayed in the US for graduate study as well, I would never go back. Montenegro just gained its independence in 2006, and I felt I was needed there, as well as all the other young, bright people that left to get a better education somewhere else. It took some time to adjust, but I never regretted my decision. I wanted to continue to study mathematics, so I enrolled at the Mathematics Department of the University of Belgrade in Serbia, where I was lucky to have a wonderful mentor Prof. Zoran Petrović. I initially wanted to continue with algebraic number theory, which I fell in love with during Prof. Pacelli’s course my senior year at Williams, but eventually I got into the field of combinatorial algebraic topology. The research took a couple of years, and after several conferences, publishing three papers, and giving birth to my daughter, in October 2015 I defended my doctoral thesis.

I live in the capital of Montenegro, Podgorica, where I teach at the University of Donja Gorica. I am happy here – the university shares many of the values I inherited at Williams, and gives me the freedom to make a difference. Experience from Williams influences the way I teach every day, as I try to incorporate what I learned from professors that I admired: during lectures I try to be clear and meticulous like Prof. Loepp, encouraging like Prof. Burger, friendly and accessible like Prof. Pacelli, and excited about math like Prof. Morgan. I am very proud to tell people where I got my undergraduate degree, and excited when someone has already heard about Williams.

I haven’t been back to any reunions, and in fact I haven’t been back in the US since I graduated. But I got to see several of my Williams friends during travels through Europe. I even took a couple of vacations with them—one at Lago Maggiore in Italy and one on Santorini island in Greece—and some of them visited me in Montenegro.

So, my dear Williams alumni, students, and professors, if you ever come to Montenegro, just drop me an email. I would love to meet you, show you my country, and talk about Williams.

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