Gerald L. Alexanderson
Jerry Alexanderson is a master teacher, an inspiration to both students and colleagues. In his 47 years of teaching at Santa Clara University (35 years of which he was department chair), he has consistently had the reputation for being not only the best, but also one of the most demanding teachers. His classes are amusing, entertaining, and highly informative, an impressive mix of challenging mathematics and historical anecdotes, delivered clearly and concisely.
Many mathematicians (and former students in other careers) discovered the excitement of mathematics in the first course they took with Jerry, and his personal advice and encouragement continues to guide many of those careers today. "Memories of my classes with Jerry include a tour of complex numbers and DeMoivre's Theorem in the first week of a freshman calculus class, a cast of colorful mathematicians (dueling and scratching graffiti on bridges), impossible exam questions (which somehow we were able to answer), fast chalk, bow ties, and eyes peering over glasses in (mock?) surprise that some cultural or intellectual fact had slipped our minds."
Jerry is also an indefatigable author and editor, producing roughly 100 articles and reviews, five undergraduate texts (on trigonometry, problem solving, abstract algebra, and discrete mathematics), two collections of mathematics contest problems, and four resource books that focus on mathematical people and their interests. He has served as editor of Mathematics Magazine, problems editor of The American Mathematical Monthly, editor of the Spectrum book series, and as Director of the Putnam Competition. Jerry's interest in excellent teaching at all levels led to his involvement in sixteen NSF summer and in-service institutes for teachers in California and in Switzerland, and in five NSF Cooperative College-School Science Projects for gifted students.
Gerald L. Alexanderson has been called "a true Renaissance man" for his breadth of knowledge, far-ranging interests, and his devotion to the art of teaching. We are delighted to honor him with the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.
Educated at the University of Oregon and Stanford University, Gerald L. Alexanderson joined the faculty of Santa Clara University in 1958, where he is currently Valeriote Professor of Science. At Stanford he started off with a course from George Pólya and was strongly influenced by his teaching style and his interest in problems. In 2000, the MAA published his biography of Pólya. For the MAA, Alexanderson served as editor of Mathematics Magazine, and later as secretary and president.
As to hobbies, contrary to widespread rumors, Alexanderson does not climb mountains, ski, go windsurfing, or otherwise participate in extreme sports. He leads a quiet life in California, sedulously avoiding inclement weather he might encounter elsewhere. As editor of the MAA's Spectrum Series, he reads lots of book manuscripts. Unfortunately this makes it quite impossible for him to read any books that have already been published.
Response from Professor Alexanderson
I deeply appreciate this award and wish to thank the members of the Haimo Award Committee, officers and board members of the MAA. In particular, I would like to mention one of my closest friends, Deborah Tepper Haimo, who was MAA president when I was secretary. We worked together harmoniously, I think without exception, throughout her term of office and beyond. I have the greatest respect for Debbie's foresight, her generosity in supporting these awards, and her deep loyalty to our community. A colleague of mine recently produced a DVD on winners of the Haimo Award and I saw it a few weeks back. It is humbling to be in the company of such stellar teachers and, I would like to think, good friends. Thank you very much.
Deborah Hughes-Hallett is known for her superb skills in the classroom, having "an uncanny ability to make clear... the remarkable and beautiful nature of mathematics." She excels at all scales, from the classroom to the international educational scene. Her pioneering programs at the University of Arizona and at Harvard will continue to support and inspire the worldwide teaching of mathematics for decades. The best known is the Harvard-based Calculus Consortium, which has developed alternative calculus curricula and fostered a lively national debate on the teaching of calculus.
Less well-known courses shaped and taught by Deborah in her 35-year career are the precalculus course, Math Ar at Harvard, and (currently) an innovative Mathematics for Business Decisions course at the University of Arizona. Her key role in the design and delivery of mathematics courses for the Summer Program for Midcareer Master’s in Public Administration and the Master’s in Public Administration and International Development at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government has won high praise. These courses reach an astonishing variety of students: underprepared freshmen needing remediation, minority students seeking research careers, and an array of senior level government officials and NGO officials from developing countries. They have involved a fundamental rethinking of either curriculum or method, and are driven by her uncompromising devotion to her students and her rigorous understanding of how they think. "To Deb, no question is annoying, no student is beyond help." At the Kennedy School, Deb attends each lecture in the program's core economics, statistics, and optimization courses so she can link her teaching to the applications encountered there.
Deborah's insights and exemplary teaching have influenced many others: under-graduates who teach Math Ar, graduate assistants at Harvard and Arizona, high school and university teachers who have attended her many workshops on teaching calculus.
For her extraordinary commitment to the understanding of learning and teaching mathematics, it is a great pleasure to award Deborah Hughes-Hallett with the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.
Deborah Hughes Hallett is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Arizona and Adjunct Professor at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard. With Andrew M. Gleason at Harvard, she organized the Calculus Consortium based at Harvard, which brought together faculty from a wide variety of schools to work on undergraduate curricular issues. She is actively involved in discussions about the teaching of undergraduate mathematics at the national and international level and is an author of several college level mathematics texts. She recently completed work on a report for the National Academy of Sciences’ Committee on Advanced Study in American High Schools and is a member of the MAA Committee on Mutual Concerns. In 1998 and 2002 she was co-chair of the International Conference on the Teaching of Mathematics in Greece, attended by several hundred faculty from about 50 countries. She established programs for master's students at the Kennedy School of Government, precalculus, and quantitative reasoning courses (with Andy Gleason), and courses for economics majors. She was awarded the Louise Hay Prize and elected a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science for contributions to mathematics education. She won the three teaching prizes given at Harvard.
Response from Professor Hughes-Hallett
I want to thank Debbie Haimo for making this award possible, my department for nominating me, and the MAA for selecting me. Most of all, I want to thank my teachers who taught me enough to win it. These teachers—my students at Harvard, Arizona, and Middle East Technical University—have patiently guided my efforts to understand their thinking processes. Their excitement at a problem understood, and their frustration at a theorem still murky, fascinate and challenge me. The delight in their eyes as they suddenly see a vista of connections, the determination in their voices as they realize that they too can succeed in mathematics, inspire me. Above all, students have taught me that my belief in them is more powerful than the clearest explanation or the best-designed class. I am honored to have watched so many students find their mathematical wings and soar.
Aparna Higgins is one of the dynamos of the U.S. mathematical community. Her ease with and genuine connection to students is remarkable; her dedication to teaching and mentoring is recognized by colleagues near and far. At the University of Dayton, where she has been for 20 years, she has developed several new courses, and “she is fearless to incorporate new pedagogical strategies into the classroom.” She teaches with passion and high expectations, and her students respond, acknowledging her nurturing interest that extends far beyond classroom and graduation. Her tireless service to the Honors program (directing research of 11 honors students) and organization of undergraduate mathematics conferences has had a profound impact. In the larger mathematical community, she has given generous time in serving on the MAA Student Chapters Committee, the MAA Subcommittee for Research by Undergraduates, and in co-directing Project NExT.
Aparna's own web page reveals her not-so-well-kept secret: "I love mathematics, and I love teaching. I enjoy reading mathematics and reading about it, I enjoy discussing mathematical things—even jokes, and I enjoy spending time with mathematicians and with students who are interested in mathematics." This love of all things mathematical and the desire to encourage others fuels her charisma, energy, and enthusiasm. Her joy is contagious in the classroom, at MAA student chapter meetings, in her REU summer programs, and with Project NExT Fellows.
Aparna has received two teaching awards from the University of Dayton and the 1995 MAA Ohio Section award. She has been a key person responsible for the strong interest in getting undergraduates involved in research, both by directing REU programs at the University of Dayton, and in giving frequent minicourses at AMS-MAA joint meetings and for Project NExT on how to engage undergraduate students in mathematics research.
For her passionate devotion to teaching and mentoring, it is a great pleasure to present Aparna Higgins with the Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.
Teaching has always been part of the professional and personal lives of Aparna Higgins. Her parents were teachers, her husband teaches mathematics, and her mother-in-law was a teacher. Aparna received her B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Bombay, India in 1978, and her M.S. (1980) and Ph.D. (1983) degrees from the University of Notre Dame. She is a Professor at the University of Dayton, OH, where she has taught since 1984, except for three interesting leaves spent at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA and the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY, where she continued to learn about the teaching of mathematics. Aparna sees in-class teaching as only one part of introducing students to the profession of mathematics. She has encouraged students to do mathematics outside of class as recreation or as research, and she has created events for students to present student-generated mathematics. Her greatest professional satisfaction has come from directing students in undergraduate research. Her most enjoyable service has been on the MAA Committee on Student Chapters and as a co-director of Project NExT. Both those activities have put her in touch with about a thousand people all eager to talk about her favorite subject – teaching undergraduate mathematics.
Response from Professor Higgins
I am deeply honored and humbled to receive this award from the Mathematical Association of America. I thank the MAA for the award and for the opportunities it has provided me to make contributions to the mathematical development of students and new faculty, by letting me serve on the Committee on Student Chapters and on the Project NExT team. My gratitude to Chris Stevens and Joe Gallian is immeasurable. I have been fortunate to work with these two deeply thoughtful and very accomplished teachers of mathematics, whose encouragement and support has helped me hone my ideas and efforts in teaching mathematics and in undergraduate research. I thank Harry Mushenheim, whose office has been next to mine for twenty years, for being my mentor and my partner in the REU ventures, and I thank my chairs who have helped me implement my ideas for the benefit of our students at the University of Dayton. Abraham Goetz of the University of Notre Dame and M. S. Huzurbazar, of the Institute of Science in Bombay taught me, by their examples, about loving mathematics for its own sake, and about enjoying one’s classes and maintaining high standards of learning, no matter the level of the course. I thank my students for challenging my teaching beliefs and making me reflect on my teaching. I am very grateful to my Honors thesis students, from whom I learned much about the process of creating mathematics, and who taught me how to be supportive and challenging simultaneously, and how to move them ahead without leading them. I thank the Project NExT Fellows and consultants, who have been so eager to share with me their ideas for good teaching and their successes and failures. In particular, Gavin LaRose, Judith Covington and Wiebke Diestelkamp have been valuable contributors to my efforts with students.
My most important help and inspiration comes from my husband, Bill Higgins, who teaches mathematics at Wittenberg University. Thank you, Bill, for the insights on mathematical questions, for the patient explanations of student behavior, for the discussions at the dinner table on what example best conveys a specific mathematical idea, for keeping our home computers running, and for providing the steady support and safe environment for our family that has allowed me to pursue my professional interests.
Charles Cable, Allegheny Mountain Section
The Allegheny Mountain Section of MAA is very pleased to nominate Professor Emeritus Charles Cable of Allegheny College for the Meritorious Service Award. Dr. Cable has served the local section for over 30 years. He has given many talks, organized local meetings and served on many sectional and MAA committees. He was also an editorial reviewer for Mathematics Magazine for five years and he was the first Associate Editor of Focus. From 1973 to 1975 he was Chair of the Allegheny Mountain Section and during his tenure as Chair, he initiated student sessions as part of the regular program of our Sections Meetings. These included both informational talks and panels and papers presented by students. Allegheny Mountain Section, through the efforts of Professor Cable, was the first Section to have special sessions for students. The office of Coordinator of Student Programs was added to the Section by-laws in 1976.
In 1982, Dr. Cable was elected Governor of our Section. Among the action items brought to the Board of Governors was the establishment of Student Chapters of the MAA. The idea of instituting Student Chapters arose through the efforts of many people, including those in our Section. Professor Cable strongly supported this effort and he worked hard to convince the other Governors of its value. The Student Chapter Program was passed in 1984, the final year of his Governorship. He also served on the Committee for Student Chapters for the first six years of its existence and co-authored the by-laws for Student Chapters. Today, Student Chapters are a source of pride and an important extension of the MAA.
Dr. Cable was one of a group in the 1970’s and 1980’s who worked diligently within the MAA to change attitudes toward women in mathematics and to include more women in the profession. During his tenure as Governor, the Allegheny Mountain Section received a Citation from the MAA honoring “those who have furthered the progress of mathematics by enhancing significantly the status of women in mathematics.”
The Allegheny Mountain Section is proud to have Charles Cable among its members and greatly appreciates his many contributions.
Response from Professor Cable
I am deeply honored to receive this award and I want to thank those who have nominated me. I am grateful for the opportunities I have had as a member of MAA. It has been a privilege to meet and work with so many dedicated and caring mathematics faculty and talented students.
When my initial efforts to form student chapters were unsuccessful, I was quite disappointed and I gave up. However, several months later Professor Paul Halmos urged me to try once again saying that sometimes it takes a while to get used to new ideas. I followed his suggestion and found that he was correct. This persistence eventually paid off. I am thrilled by how spectacularly successful this endeavor has been. It is gratifying to see so many undergraduate math majors excited about mathematics and presenting results of their research at both the sectional and national level.
Jon Scott, MD-DC-VA Section
The MD-DC-VA award for Meritorious Service is presented to Jon Scott of Montgomery College. Jon has held several positions in the section, including the offices of Treasurer and Section Governor. He continues to serve in an advisory role with the section Executive Committee, and is extremely generous with his time and energy in section matters, including managing book sales and information distribution at section meetings as well as coordinating recognition of Modeling Competition winners. Jon also has a history of service to the national MAA that is impressive in both quantity and quality. Some of his more recent contributions are serving as co-organizer for the MAA sponsored workshops on “Leading the Academic Department,” serving on the PREP management team, and organizing MAA-NSF-DUE poster sessions at the National Meetings. Jon also served a term as Visiting Mathematician at MAA headquarters.
Response from Professor Scott
It is indeed a special honor to receive the Certificate of Meritorious Service from the MAA. My thanks go to all the members of the Maryland-District of Columbia-Virginia Section for allowing me to contribute to our profession. There are so many people within the Section that do so much. I thank them all for their leadership and support. The MAA, both at the section and national levels, has played a tremendous part in my continued professional growth, and ultimately in what I am able to accomplish with my students. I am only too happy to give something back to the Association. Thanks.
Barbara Osofsky, New Jersey Section
The New Jersey Section is pleased to nominate Barbara L. Osofsky to be the recipient of the 2005 Mathematical Association of America Certificate of Meritorious Service.
Professor Osofsky became a member of the MAA in 1958, while an undergraduate student in Cornell University, and has been a member ever since, becoming a life member in 1986. She received her B.A. and M.A. in mathematics, with a minor in physics, from Cornell and then moved to New Jersey, where she began her teaching career as an instructor at Douglass College of Rutgers University. She completed her Ph.D. in mathematics at Rutgers, and then she spent a year as a member of the Institute for Advanced Study on an NSF postdoctoral program. Barbara has been teaching and doing research in homological algebra at Rutgers University ever since.
Barbara is a member of the MAA, AMS, and AWM. She was active in both the AMS and the MAA early in her career, but later became much more active in the MAA. Her interests and service have been diverse and significant. She has served on and/or chaired a large number of national MAA committees: program committees for national meetings, including chairing the program committee for the last joint summer meetings with the AMS in Seattle 1996, and the program committee for the first MAA MathFest in Atlanta in 1997; editorial committees for the MAA, including chairing the Carus Monograph Editorial Committee for three years early in her career, and now back on that committee; two ad hoc committees to select a Monthly editor; committees to select the Chauvenet and Beckenbach award winners and to select a Hedrick Lecturer; and the Short Course Subcommittee, which she chaired for several years. She helped write a manual for organizers of Short Courses at the winter and summer national meetings and selected organizers for the Short Courses. She has served as the New Jersey Section Governor (1994-97) and as First Vice President of the MAA at the national level (2000-2002).
For her many years of outstanding, dedicated service at both the local and national levels, the New Jersey Section regards Professor Osofsky to be well-deserving of the MAA Award for Meritorious Service.
Response from Professor Osofsky
It is indeed an honor to be the 2004 recipient of the Certificate of Meritorious Service of the Mathematical Association of America. I thank the New Jersey Section for nominating me. I very much appreciate this award, but even more I appreciate the invaluable opportunity I have had to work with so many wonderful, dedicated, creative people in the New Jersey Section and on the national level of the Mathematical Association of America.
Since my undergraduate days at Cornell in the late 1950’s, when I began my long association with the MAA by taking problems in the Monthly section, I have watched the MAA grow and blossom. I later began attending meetings and serving on a variety of MAA committees to do my small part in contributing to this growth. As a result, I became more and more in awe of the many MAA visions of what the undergraduate mathematical experience might be, the insights of our members on how to get there, and the incredibly large amounts of time and effort spent by my MAA colleagues to further the goals of the Association. This has been a source of great pleasure to me, and I am very grateful to have had the chance to work with such dedicated people in our common cause.
Roy Deal, Jr., Oklahoma-Arkansas Section
Roy B. Deal joined the MAA in 1940, while an undergraduate at the University of Oklahoma, but playing professional baseball for a year interrupted his studies. After that, Deal worked as a foreman for Boeing building airplanes from 1940-1944 and then served as an instructor in radar theory with the US Navy from 1944-1945. Returning to the University of Oklahoma, Deal finished his undergraduate degree in Mathematics in 1947, his M.A. in 1948, and his Ph.D. in 1953, with a thesis in metric differential geometry written under the supervision of C. E. Springer. Deal then worked as a faculty member at Oklahoma A&M College, which became Oklahoma State University in 1957. Deal attained the rank of Professor in 1961, directing 21 doctoral theses before leaving in 1967 to become Professor in Biostatistics and Epidemiology at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. Deal served as Professor at OUHSC from 1967 until retiring in 1985. During that time he directed 9 more doctoral theses and was influential in many more. He has consulted and lectured extensively, visiting at the Sorbonne in 1960-1961, and at the Universities of Dublin, Manchester, London, Stockholm, Athens, and Pahlavi University in Shiraz, Iran from 1976-1977. He has also been actively concerned with mathematics education, lecturing in a six week NSF Summer Institute for mathematics teachers in Durant, OK, in 1960.
Deal served as the Chair of the Oklahoma MAA section in 1954, as an MAA Visiting Lecturer from 1963-1965, and as Governor of the section from 1966-1969. Deal was active in renaming the section as the Oklahoma-Arkansas section in 1965, and he was also instrumental in establishing the N.A. Court Lecture Series in 1970 as part of our Section’s annual spring meeting, honoring Professor Emeritus N.A. Court of the University of Oklahoma, who was one of the MAA’s founding members. Deal gave an invited address at the first independent section meeting in March 1956 entitled Another method of steepest descent in linear programming. He delivered the Court Lecture in 1978, entitled Mathematics as a Hobby. He has continued active participation in our section during his retirement and has probably delivered more lectures at section meetings than any other individual. The title of his most recent talk in March 2004 shows that he hasn’t slowed down much in his retirement: Easy proofs of properties of elementary functions, including relations to Bernoulli numbers, Euler numbers, and the Riemann Zeta function.
The Oklahoma-Arkansas section of the MAA is pleased and very proud to present the Certificate of Meritorious Service to Professor Emeritus Roy B. Deal, Jr.
Response from Professor Deal
This is certainly a highlight in my long, happy association with the MAA, since Nathan Altshiller Court drove to my house, ten miles out in the country, in December 1939 to talk my parents into giving me my first membership in the MAA for Christmas that year. I have fond memories of encouraging student papers, attending and presenting papers, contacts as a visiting lecturer, time on the Board of Governors, involvement in the problems section, including watching for years what seemed to be a competition between N.A. Court and C.W. Trigg and my involvement in the business meetings of the OK-AR section. I am preparing a paper for the 2005 section meeting and planning another for 2006. I have observed that I have a pedagogical tendency in my writing which I am sure has been influenced by more than sixty years of reading the American Mathematical Monthly.
Ernie Solheid, Southern California-Nevada Section
Ernie Solheid has been the Meeting Coordinator of the Southern California-Nevada Section for seven years and has done an excellent job in the selection of the sites for the Spring and Fall Meetings of the section. The organization of the meetings has been impeccable. We are very fortunate to have Ernie in this position. Mario Martelli, past Governor, Secretary-Treasurer, and Program Chair of the section, suggested Ernie's name when Barbara Beechler, who had been Secretary-Treasurer, Meeting Coordinator and Newletter Editor for many years, stepped down from all three duties for health reasons. Barbara was very impressed by Ernie's work. She told Mario that suggesting his name was one of the best services he had done for the section!
Response from Professor Solheid
I would like to thank my friends and colleagues in the Southern Californian-Nevada Section of the MAA for this very special recognition. It has been a privilege and a pleasure to work alongside them and to participate in the Section's activities for the past several years. I am most honored to receive the Certificate of Meritorious Service for the Section.
Gerald L. Alexanderson
The Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics is the most prestigious award for service made by the Association, to be given for service to mathematics that has been widely recognized as extraordinarily successful. It would be difficult to find anyone who fits this description better than Gerald L. Alexanderson.
Jerry has a long record of able service to mathematics as a practitioner, teacher, administrator, professional organization leader, publicist, advocate, and enthusiast whose love for mathematics and its people comes through clearly in his public talks and widely-read books. One of his most notable characteristics is his extraordinary compassion and concern for the human beings who come into contact with our profession, whether they be the students whose knowledge and interest he has furthered as an award-winning teacher, or the mathematicians and their wives for whom Jerry has provided care in their old age. His sympathy for his interviewees in the Mathematical People volumes (coauthored with Don Albers and Constance Reid) makes his subjects come alive as real people with interesting things to say beyond mathematics, which has contributed greatly to the popularity of the books with the general public and helped counter some of the common stereotypes about mathematicians.
Jerry believes strongly in the promotion of young talent through problem solving, and has been the Associate Director of the William Lowell Putnam competition since 1975. He has coauthored two problem-solving books, and each year coauthors the article on the competition’s results that appears in the Monthly.
At the local level, Jerry has distinguished himself as a strong proponent of mathematics on his own campus, Santa Clara University, serving as chair of his department for thirty-five years and in many other administrative positions within the university, as well as on its Board of Trustees. He received a President’s Special Recognition Award in 1996 for this service to his institution.
On the national level, Jerry’s leadership has been sought by mathematics research and professional organizations at the highest level. As the chair of the Board of Trustees of the American Institute of Mathematics since 1994, Jerry has seen that institution grow from a vision of two silicon valley businessman interested in supporting mathematics to a world-class research institute, whose Research Conference Center receives major funding from the National Science Foundation and is preparing to move into a new state-of-the-art facility. Jerry also served for many years on the executive committee of the Fibonacci Association, and as its President from 1980 to 1984.
Even without his service to the MAA, Jerry’s contributions to our profession would merit this award. However, his remarkable record of service to the Association cannot go unmentioned. During his fifty years of MAA membership he has served as associate editor of the College Mathematics Journal, co-editor of the problems section of the Monthly, editor of Mathematics Magazine, and editor of the Spectrum book series; as chair of the Council on Publications and the Development Committee; as chair and member of countless other sectional and national MAA committees, including the Board of Governors on which he is currently serving his twenty-first consecutive year and twenty-fourth overall; as secretary and chair of the Northern California Section; and as the Association’s First Vice President, Secretary, and, from 1997 through 1999, its President. Jerry currently chairs the committees overseeing the remodeling of the MAA’s carriage house into its new Mathematical Sciences Conference Center and planning the mathematical sessions to be held there, which is just one example of his continuing leadership as the Association expands in new directions.
Much of Jerry Alexanderson’s professional life has been devoted to assuring that the achievements of other mathematicians are recognized and appreciated. For this reason, it is particularly fitting for his own achievements to be recognized by the MAA’s highest award for service. For his long record of service at all levels to mathematics and its people, the Mathematical Association of America is pleased to present Gerald L. Alexanderson the 2005 Yueh-Gin Gung and Dr. Charles Y. Hu Award for Distinguished Service to Mathematics.
Response from Professor Alexanderson
Prior to this I have never confused Atlanta with Las Vegas. But I never won a jackpot in Las Vegas comparable to this. Unaccustomed as I am to winning awards, I find that winning two within an hour is rather overwhelming. I recall an occasion similar to this in 1963 when my advisor, George Pólya, won the second of the MAA's Distinguished Service A wards at meetings in Berkeley. (In case you're wondering, the first winner was Mina Rees.) I drove Pólya to Berkeley and on the way back to Palo Alto we stopped to have dinner at the great but now almost forgotten Ritz Old Poodle Dog, a wonderfully historic San Francisco restaurant dating back to the Gold Rush. It was a fine day of celebration. I could never have imagined that forty-one years later I would be receiving this award myself.
It would have been impossible for me to accomplish much of anything at all without the help over many years of my colleagues in my own department-I won't name names because there are so many and I would risk leaving someone out, my colleagues at the MAA, and my many coauthors over the years. We are very fortunate to be in mathematics, a great field, intellectually rewarding and populated with so many dedicated, smart, and interesting people. I'm grateful to the members of the Gung-Hu Award Committee who recommended me to the Board of Governors. It gives me great pleasure to accept this award. Thank you very much-again.
The Joint Policy Board for Mathematics presents its 2005 Communications Award to Dr. Barry Cipra who, for nearly twenty years, has written about mathematics of every kind -from the most abstract to the most applied. His lucid explanations of complicated ideas at the frontiers of research have appeared in dozens of articles in newspapers, magazines, and books.
While some of his audience undoubtedly consists of mathematicians themselves, he writes for scientists and scholars who are mathematically literate. In this way, he has reached many thousands of scientists. Dr. Cipra’s work has educated mathematicians and non-mathematicians alike by exposing them to current and deep mathematical ideas about the beauty and power of mathematics. Barry Cipra has given his readers a greater understanding of the ideas of mathematics, but most importantly he has changed their perception of the nature of mathematics.
Dr. Barry Cipra received his doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Maryland in 1980. After a brief career as academic, he turned to freelance writing, and he has continued with that work for the past 15 years. He has written many articles for some of the premier journals of scientific exposition, including Science and Nature. Examples of the intriguing titles of his articles are “Simple Recipe Creates Acid Test for Primes” and “How to Play Platonic Billiards.” He is a regular contributor to SIAM News, writing many dozens of articles that are accessible and illuminating. He has authored 5 volumes of What's Happening in the Mathematical Sciences for the AMS, each including a compilation of expository articles on recent mathematical developments aimed at the mathematically literate public. Those volumes have been widely distributed (and admired) in the scientific community in Washington.
Cipra received the 1991 Merten M. Hasse Prize from the Mathematical Association of America for an expository article on the Ising model, published in the December 1987 issue of the American Mathematical Monthly. He is the author of Misteaks … and how to find them before the teacher does … (a calculus supplement), published by AK Peters, Ltd.
Dr. Cipra completed his Ph.D. degree under the direction of Michael Razar, with much help from Steve Kudla. He was a Moore Instructor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a research instructor at the Ohio State University, and an assistant professor at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, before turning to freelance writing.
Response from Dr. Cipra
It is a great honor to receive the JPBM Communications Award. To be able to write about mathematics for a living -- to meet so many first-rate mathematicians and learn about their exciting work -- is a pleasure beyond description. This is an amazing age in which to be reporting on mathematics and its applications. I never would have guessed, in 1987, that I would wind up reporting on the proofs of Fermat's Last Theorem and the Kepler Conjecture (and, very possibly, the Poincaré Conjecture). I have witnessed an incredible growth in the applications of mathematics, especially in biology, which fifteen years ago was barely a whisper at math meetings and now is a prominent theme at many. Perhaps most surprisingly, I've seen mathematics go from a virtual non-entity in popular culture to become the basis (or McGuffin) of award-winning plays and movies.
I've been helped by many people over the years. Chief among them are Klaus Peters, Lynn Steen, Ed Block, Paul Sally, and Sam Rankin. I would like to thank my editors, especially Gail Corbett, Tim Appenzeller, and Paul Zorn, who have made the final, published versions of my articles so much better than their first drafts. Indeed, the key to writing, I've found, is expressible in a familiar mathematical term: iteration. The hard part, as mathematicians well know, is making sure the iterative process converges to the desired result.
The winner of the 2004 Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate is Reid W. Barton. The award is based on the research paper “Packing densities of patterns.”
Packing densities were introduced by Herb Wilf in 1992-93. Some of the early questions were settled by Alkes Price, Fred Galvin and Walter Stromquist. Recent contributions were made by M.H. Albert, M.D. Atkinson, C.C.Handley, D.A.Holton, W.Stromquist, A.Burstein, P.Hästö, and T.Mansour. The main goal of Barton’s paper is to extend the theory of packing densities of permutations to that of patterns, i.e. words allowing repetition of letters. After resolving the basic conceptual issues elegantly, Barton delves into the study of packing densities for specific families of layered patterns. He proves several important results, some generalizing earlier results by the above-mentioned authors, some opening up new vistas. Barton also outlines a possible program to tackle open questions, and formulates new conjectures. This is all in all a remarkable debut paper in the area of pattern research in combinatorics, an area of considerable current interest. Commentators consider Barton’s paper the best paper so far on packing densities, and praise it for its clarity, new techniques, and new results.
Reid W. Barton is a senior at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology majoring in mathematics. A resident of Arlington, MA, Reid began his formal studies in mathematics at Tufts University while in middle school. As a high school student, he earned four gold medals at the International Mathematical Olympiad, placing first with a perfect score in 2001. In 2001 he also placed first at the International Olympiad in Informatics, earning his second IOI gold medal. As an undergraduate, he has been designated a Putnam Fellow the past three years and been a member of MIT's Putnam team which placed first in 2003 and second in 2001. Reid has also competed on MIT's ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest team, finishing fifth and second at the 2003 and 2001 World Finals, respectively. An accomplished pianist, Reid performs in MIT Chamber Music Society groups. He is an avid bridge player and also enjoys playing intramural soccer, hockey and ultimate.
Response from Mr. Barton
I am very honored to receive the 2004 Frank and Brennie Morgan Prize. I would like to thank the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize Committee for selecting me for this award. I would also like to thank Joe Gallian, director of the Duluth REU, for providing the opportunity to do research on a challenging problem in a stimulating environment, and all those affiliated with the Duluth REU who gave me feedback on my research.
The Morgan Prize Committee is pleased to award honorable mention for the 2004 Morgan Prize for Outstanding Research in Mathematics by an Undergraduate to Po-Shen Loh. This recognition is based on his senior thesis at Caltech on “Random Graphs and the Second Eigenvalue Problem.”
His result is a probabilistic estimate. It extends the work of Alon and Roichman involving the second-largest eigenvalue of the Cayley graph of a sufficiently large group with respect to a subset of a certain size. The improvement upon the Alon/Roichman result comes from replacing the order of the group by the sum of degrees of its irreducible representations. This is considerably smaller for non-Abelian groups in general.
The second-largest eigenvalue of a graph is a characterization of the expansion of the graph, which is an important concept in combinatorics and the theory of computation. Graphs with large expansion are used in the derandomization of algorithms, the design of error correcting codes, and other applications. Their investigations have been an active research area for two decades. Po-Shen Loh’s contribution is a nice result, and the promise of great things to come.
Po-Shen Loh received his mathematics degree from Caltech in 2004, and is currently studying mathematics at the University of Cambridge on a one-year Winston Churchill Foundation Scholarship. This fall, he will start his Ph.D. at Princeton University, aided by fellowships from the Hertz Foundation and the National Science Foundation. As a grade-school student in Madison, Wisconsin, Po-Shen first developed his dual interests in mathematics and computer science through competitions, representing the United States at the international level in both subjects. At Caltech, these interests migrated to research, thanks to many supportive faculty in the mathematics, applied mathematics, and computer science departments, and to Caltech's Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program. Po-Shen's research interests, combinatorics and its applications, are the product of this varied background. In his spare time at Cambridge, Po-Shen explores topics in other fields, tinkers with computers, and enjoys the British countryside with his wife, a fellow Caltech graduate.
Response from Dr. Loh
I feel very honored to be designated Honorable Mention for this award, and I am very grateful to all of the people involved in organizing this prize competition. I would like to mention several institutions and individuals who contributed significantly to this final result. Caltech provided a special close-knit academic and social atmosphere that allowed my creativity and imagination to flourish, and its Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program gave me the opportunity to explore various fields of research during the summers of 2000, 2001, 2002, and 2003. During those summers, I worked for three wonderful Caltech advisors: Alain Martin and Leonard Schulman from computer science, and Emmanuel Candes from applied mathematics. Leonard Schulman supervised my 2003 project, which evolved into the senior thesis that won this Honorable Mention. His guidance was essential. I would also like to recognize the mathematics department at Caltech, in whose supportive company I developed the bulk of my mathematical knowledge. Finally, thank you to Debbie, my family, and my friends for your consistent support and encouragement.
James S. Tanton
The Beckenbach Book Prize Committee, consisting of Steve Kennedy, Marvin Schaefer, and Larry Riddle (chair) nominates the book “Solve This: Math Activities for Students and Clubs” by James Tanton, published by the MAA, for the Beckenbach Book Prize.
This book takes classic puzzles, and little-known puzzles, and some exceedingly clever original puzzles and re-interprets them as activities for student math clubs. The writing is engaging and the puzzles and activities are simultaneously deep, accessible, and enjoyable. The author's approach is fresh and different, and his puzzles and activities are presented in a way that is completely charming.
The book, however, is much more than just a collection of ideas to use with math clubs. It causes, coerces and induces the reader to think about mathematics in non-conventional ways, exploring diverse topics from number theory, geometry, combinatorics, probability, knot theory, topology, tiling, and many more. The sections on “Take it Further” and “Solutions and Discussions” expand upon many of the problems and activities to suggest additional directions of exploration, provide notes and proofs on some important areas and theorems of mathematics, and present problems whose solutions are still unknown. Even professional mathematicians are likely to encounter questions and problems that will capture their interest in this creative, innovative, and delightful exposure to mathematics and mathematical thinking.
At first glance it is difficult to determine what James Tanton has done/is doing with his academic career. After obtaining his Ph.D. from Princeton in 1994 Tanton followed the usual track of Visiting Professor/Assistant Professor/Associate Professor at three different institutions (New College of the University of South Florida, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and Merrimack College) but was soon lured away by the joys of interacting with, teaching, being taught by, and publishing research articles with younger students, K–12, at the Boston-based Math Circle. During those three years Tanton also worked as a consultant for various teacher-training programs and college and secondary textbook editors, all under the pretext that he actually knew something about the state of secondary-level mathematics education. He didn’t. But Tanton eventually decided to try practicing what he preached by heading into the secondary scene directly himself. He worked at Milton Academy for a short stint and now finds himself to be a regular high-school teacher at St. Mark’s School in Southborough, Massachusetts. He has never worked harder in any aspect of his mathematical career than he is working now – and he is still in a state of shock over what he is really learning, for the first time, about life as a high-school math teacher. (Better be careful about what you preach!) Just to keep sanity completely out of reach, Tanton is also founding a new Institute of Mathematics at St. Mark’s School to do interesting things that can be best read about on the web.
Response from Dr. Tanton
Sadly, I am unable to be here for today’s prize ceremony, but my absence in no way is an indication of a lack appreciation and delight. I am truly flattered and honored to be the 2005 recipient of the Beckenbach Book Prize for SOLVE THIS. I would never have guessed that the text is so well enjoyed. Thank You.
I am particularly touched that this piece is being honored in this way. Creative play, flexibility of the mind, and innovative thinking, really are key elements to success in the scientific and mathematical research world, but alas so much of a student’s early exposure to mathematics is confined, fixed, and, particularly on the secondary level, rote. A math club provides a natural forum for innovative exploration and a chance for students to learn how to ask questions, not just to answer someone else’s questions. (How many graduate students have sufficient sense of ease to propose their own lists of possible research endeavors?) I hope SOLVE THIS really does foster a sense of personal mathematical enquiry and, moreover, encourage adaptability of the mind.
I will honor this award by choosing an activity from the book for this week’s math club activity at St. Mark’s School. (I might even choose an activity from the manuscript pages of SOLVE THIS TOO!)