Million-Second-Quiz Kaplan Gave Faculty Seminar

Nathan Kaplan, who worked with Prof. Allison Pacelli in our 2005 SMALL Undergraduate Mathematics Research Project and who gallantly competed September 13 on Million Second Quiz, gave our Faculty Seminar Friday November 22 on “Curves and Surfaces Over Finite Fields and Coding Theory.” Kaplan is… Continue reading »

Statistics Major Approved

The Faculty voted to approve a Major in Statistics. See the report and the editorial in the Williams Record. Description of the Major in Statistics: The major in Statistics is designed to meet three goals: to introduce some of the central ideas of information and data science,… Continue reading »

Bronfman Praises Liberal Arts

Edgar M. Bronfman, famous Williams student and donor, has a new article Inside Higher Education on “Business and the Liberal Arts,” where he writes: …adaptability is where a liberal arts degree comes in. There is nothing that makes the mind more elastic and expandable than discovering how the… Continue reading »

MathBlast Draws 134 High School Students

134 students from Mt. Greylock and BArT High Schools attended this morning’s Williams College MathBlast, dedicated to the memory of founder Professor Olga R. Beaver, who passed on four days earlier. Sponsored by the Williams Center at Mount Greylock and the Williams College Math Department, MathBlast is a morning for 10th… Continue reading »

Provoking Thought

What do you think?  How do you think?  And can you think even better? I’ve spent nearly ten years focusing on these and related questions. The result is a recently-published book, co-authored with Michael Starbird from The University of Texas at Austin, entitled The 5… Continue reading »

Majors and Careers

The teaching of my first tutorial at Williams occurred in Spring 2012, on phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary trees.  As with most tutorials, I had ten students in my class, grouped in pairs, where their strengths included pure mathematics, biology, art, and computer science.  My tutorial was… Continue reading »

Mathematical Danger

In what way is mathematics dangerous?  This past year, the Williams College Gaudino program has been looking at the idea of danger.  Hence my question, in what way is mathematics dangerous? Maybe there is emotional danger, as the media mocks the typical math professor as nerdy and… Continue reading »

Math as ESL

Introductory proof writing is much like English as a Second Language.  Developing written mathematical skills involves wrestling with issues of vocabulary, word choice, grammar, word order, punctuation, native expressions and (after enough experience) eventuates in fluency in the foreign language of mathematics.  This analogy can provide a natural… Continue reading »

Gaudino Lunches

Earlier on this blog I wrote “Math departments are full of smart people.  But with the demands (and joys) of research and teaching (and of our personal lives), most people in math departments do not talk to each other about math nearly enough.  Certainly that is true… Continue reading »

Extraordinary Students

A little event last week reminded me of what I admire most in students. I was giving a guest presentation in Robert McCann’s freshman seminar at the University of Toronto. As I was setting up, I realized I needed a power strip. I said to the gathering class,… Continue reading »