Mathematics Departmental News for 2008

HMC Math Department Supports Students to Present their Research at Conferences (2008/12/10)

With the help of the Leeds Fund and department resources, a large number of students have attended or will be attending various conferences to present their research.

Analysis and Numerics of Population Dynamics and Epidemics Models, December 15–17, 2008, Udine, Italy

Preferential HIV/AIDS Treatment Allocation Modeling in Resource Constrained Countries
Nadia Abuelezam ’09*

Southern California Conference for Undergraduate Research, November 22, 2008–Pomona, CA

The Hydrodynamic Origin of Whale Footprints
Dmitri Skjorshammer ’11

Joint Mathematics Meeting, January 5–8, 2009, Washington, DC

Classifying the Simplices of the 4-Dimensional Cube
Helen Highberger ’09
Natalie Durgin ’09*
Jacob Scott ’11
Group Theoretic Algorithms for Matrix Multiplication
Bob Chen ’10
Hendrik Orem ’09*
Martijn van Schaardenburg ’10
Richard Bowen ’10
Constructive Lower Bounds For Cyclic Van der Waerden Number
Jeffrey Burkert ’11
The Minimum Semidefinite Rank of a Graph
Rachel Cranfill ’09.*

* = Designated Leeds fellow.

Prof. de Pillis to Speak at Invitation-Only Conference on Cancer Modeling (2008/09/08)

Prof. Lisette de Pillis, Chair of the Department of Mathematics and Norman F. Sprague Professor of Life Sciences, will speak on “Mathematical Approaches to Modeling Immune-Cancer Dynamics” at an invitation-only multidisciplinary workshop in Belgium in October, 2008—the First Transatlantic Workshop on Multiscale Cancer Modelling.

From the conference website:

Major diseases like cancer, neurological and cardiovascular diseases are complex in nature involving environmental, life style, ageing and genetic components. An integrative research approach is therefore required to better understand the complex mechanisms behind human diseases. In this approach, all processes that occur at multiple levels from molecules to cells, organs and organisms are seen not as separate events but as parts of a multi-scale system which aims at improving the understanding of the human health and diseases.

Prof. de Pillis is the lead PI on a $328,283 NSF research grant entitled “Mathematical Modeling of the Chemotherapy, Immunotherapy and Vaccine Therapy of Cancer”.

HMC Has a Fifth Top-10 Putnam Performance (2008/03/14)

The results of the nationwide 2007 William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition are in, and HMC had a great showing, with an eigth-place finish in the team category (out of 516 universities) and many strong individual performances, including two Honorable Mentions.

Forty-one HMC students spent a Saturday in December taking this very difficult six-hour exam, which requires unique blend of cleverness and problem-solving skills. Nationwide, 3753 students competed, and this year the median score was 2 out of a total of 120 points! This year, in the team competition, the HMC team of: Greg Minton ’08, Ted Spaide ’09, and Brian Rice ’08 earned Honorable Mention [team category] for finishing in eighth place out of 516 colleges and universities.

This year marks the fifth time in the last seven years that HMC has landed in the Top 10. The Top 5 teams in the competition this year were: Harvard, Princeton, MIT, Stanford, and Duke. In the Honorable Mention category with Harvey Mudd College were Caltech, Carnegie Mellon, U. Toronto, and U. Waterloo.

In the individual category, two Mudd students earned Honorable Mentions [individual category]; three made the Top 200 List; and seven made the Top 500 List; a great accomplishment given our school size. Only eight out of the 516 schools who competed could claim more students in the Top 500.

Special honors go to the following participants:

(Out of 3753)
Nationwide Rank Honor
Greg Minton ’08 63 26.5 Honorable Mention
Ted Spaide ’09 50 58.5 Honorable Mention
Brian Rice ’08 33 156.5 Top 200 List

These three students will be receiving RIF Prizes, which honor the top Mudd finishers in the Putnam each year. In addition, the following students all made the Top 500 List:George Tucker ’08, Jacob Scott ’11, Kenji Kozai ’08, Ryan Mulle ’11.

We are proud of all 41 Mudd students who sacrificed their time, talent, and energies to represent HMC in this year’s Putnam competition. These students who enjoy problem solving enough to participate in the Putnam represent a crosssection of majors at the college. Please join us in congratulating all those who participated!

Seven HMC Students Present Research at National Math Meetings (2008/01/16)

Students, faculty, and alumni of the Harvey Mudd College Mathematics Department had a tremendous presence at the annual joint meeting of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), held in San Diego on January 6–9, 2008. HMC students together with math faculty and alumni enjoyed an exciting conference.

Four seniors won $100 prizes for their research posters: Sara Gussin ’08 (“Wavelet Sets”, with faculty adviser Jon Jacobsen), Andy Leverentz ’08 (“An Integrodifferential Equation Modeling 1-D Swarming Behavior”, with faculty adviser Andy Bernoff), Greg Minton ’08 (“Dot Product Representations of Graphs”, with faculty adviser Kimberly Tucker) and Tia Sondjaja ’08 (“A Combinatorial Lusternik-Schnirelman-Borsuk Theorem on the d-Cube”, with faculty adviser Francis Su).

Three students also presented invited research talks. Parousia Rockstroh ’08 presented “Angular-Asymmetric Binary Branching Trees”, in the AMS Session on Dynamical Systems. His talk represented work conducted in the summer under David Brown at Ithaca College. Tia Sondjaja ’08 presented “A Combinatorial Lusternik-Schnirelman-Borsuk Theorem on the d-Cube,” in the AMS Special Session on Undergraduate Research. Her talk was based on research conducted in The Claremont Colleges REU, under the supervision of Francis Su. Steve Rosenthal ’08 presented a talk in the same session on “Localized Forcing in Thin Liquid Films”, which represented research conducted under Rachel Levy at the UCLA summer research program in Applied Mathematics.

Several math-department faculty presented talks at the conference, including a talk in the special session on voting by Michael Orrison entitled “Voting, the Symmetric Group, and Representation Theory”, and one by Francis Su entitled “Are Societies Agreeable?” In addition to his talk, Michael Orrison served on two panels for Project NExT, an MAAprofessional development program for new faculty in the mathematical sciences. Rachel Levy presented a talk in the AMS Special Session on Partial Differential Equations entitled “Flow of a Surfactant-Laden Thin Liquid Film Down an Inclined Plane”.

Other mathematics department members present at the meeting included professors Art Benjamin, Andrew Bernoff, Robert Borrelli, Alfonso Castro, Weiqing Gu, Daniel Goroff, Melvin Henriksen, Jon Jacobsen, Francis Su, Kimberly Tucker and Darryl Yong. HMC Math Department alumni were also well-represented—sightings of Mudders included Bradley Forrest ’02, Christopher Hanusa ’01, Dylan Helliwell ’98, Karl Mahlburg ’01, Cameron McLeman ’02, Russ Merris ’64, Andrew Niedermaier ’04, Elizabeth Norton ’01, Elisha Peterson ’00, Scott Robertson ’99, Jeremy Rouse ’03, Itai Seggev ’99, and David Uminsky ’03.