Like Risk? Be an Actuary!

Do you like risk? Or, more precisely, do you like to assess and quantify risk and put a price on it (the premium that insurance collects)? If yes, consider becoming an actuary. This profession almost always makes the top 10 in the various best jobs lists (like this… Continue reading »

The UnKnot Conference

Two weeks ago, the first UnKnot Conference was held in Granville, Ohio at Denison University. And no, UnKnot does not stand for a conference devoted to the properties of the trivial knot, which would be short conference indeed, but rather for the Undergraduate Knot Theory Conference. Organized by… Continue reading »

Mathematics and the Iranian Elections

One of the many things I love about mathematics is that results initially discovered in one realm pop up in surprising places. A terrific example is Benford’s law of digit bias (those taking Math 341 in the fall will get to learn a lot more about this!). Benford’s… Continue reading »


In my opinion, compactness is the most important concept in mathematics. Here’s an article, recently published in Pro Mathematica, that tracks compactness from the one-dimensional real line in calculus to infinite dimensional spaces of functions and surfaces. Continue reading »

Colloquium and Community

This entry is written by Nico Aiello ’09 on behalf of SMASAB 2009. At Williams, every senior math/stats major has to give a colloquium talk. If you had asked me on the morning of my colloquium how I felt about the colloquium requirement, it’s… Continue reading »

Crocodilia, Sex Ratios, and Fisher’s Theorem

Crocodilia, the biological order that includes alligators and crocodiles, have the interesting property that the gender of offspring is not determined by random genetics but by the environment of the nesting site. Prime nesting sights, in wet marshes near water sources, produce nearly 80% female hatchlings. The… Continue reading »

Cildo Meireles and the Poisson-Clock transition

Cildo Meireles is a well-known Brazilian artist, associated with the art movement “Neo-concrete art”. He was recently given a full retrospective by the Tate Modern Museum in London, which I had the opportunity to see in December 2008. Meireles’ intriguing and aesthetically seductive installations… Continue reading »

Math is Music

Almost 30 years ago, something happened that made introductory statistics harder to teach. Students didn’t suddenly become less teachable, nor did professors forget their craft. It was that we began to switch from teaching statistics as a mathematics course to teaching the art and craft of statistics as its… Continue reading »