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MAA Student Chapters Newsletters - Fall 2004

Fall 2004

Introduction Providence MathFest Report Whassup in Atlanta Contact Information


The Joint AMS-MAA Winter Meeting in Atlanta

Enjoy the warmth of Phoenix when the AMS and MAA hold their Joint Winter Meetings at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta and Atlanta Marriot Marquis from Wednesday, January 5, through Saturday, January 8, 2005. The activities for students will include the Student Hospitality Center, the Undergraduate Students Poster Session, the MAA Student Lecture, and Mathematical Experiences for Students Outside the Classroom. Information on these activities may be found inside in the section ’Whassup in Atlanta.â?

MathFest 2004: Providence RI

Beautiful weather and the historic setting of Providence, Rhode Island greeted the math people who attended MathFest 2004. Many students participated in the MAA and PME paper sessions. Benoit Mandelbrot led the MAA Student Workshop, and Filippo Brunelleschi himself appeared at the MAA Student Lecture to explain how he built the great dome of Florence’s cathedral. The conference closed with the National Collegiate Mathematics Championship. For a report on these and other activities, check out the Providence MathFest Report.

Check the New Student Website!!


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Providence MathFest Report

Student Reception in Providence

The annual MAA/PME Student Reception was held on Wednesday, August 11, from 5:30 to 6:30 in the delightful Rotunda Room of the Rhode Island Convention Center in Providence, RI. This was the opening event of the convention for more than one hundred undergraduate students who attended MathFest this year. CUSAC, MAA, and PME officers welcomed everyone and invited all to enjoy the ample refreshments.

The student reception has become a tradition at the summer meeting of the MAA. It is generally held right before the Opening Banquet and precedes the first full day of mathematics talks. It is a relaxed, fun event at which students can meet each other and be welcomed by established mathematicians. We hope to see you at the reception in Albuquerque next summer!

Mingling at the Student Reception

Brunelleschi's Dome

The MAA Student Lecture at this year's MathFest in Providence Rhode Island was given by Mario Martelli of Claremont-McKenna College in California. In giving his talk, The Secret of Brunelleschi's Cupola, Professor Martelli was assisted by his wife, Ann and student Adam Cox as narrator and assistant. Martelli gave his talk as Brunelleschi, and given his natural Italian accent and his period costume, the disguise was quite convincing. Martelli refuted some popular conjectures on how the dome of Florence's cathedral was constructed, and put forth his own very convincing theory on how Brunelleschi, with some mathematical help, built his masterpiece. The talk was standing room only and popular with students and non-students alike.
Professor Martelli as Brunelleschi

"Workshop" on Fractals

Professor Benoit Mandelbrot of Yale University led the MAA Student Workshop at the Summer, 2004, MathFest in Providence, Rhode Island. He entertained an over-crowded room of students and friends for two hours (and only a 10-minute break). Students listened intently; all were awed by the presence of Professor Mandelbrot. They asked interesting questions throughout the talk.

During the short break, students surrounded Professor Mandelbrot to ask more questions. To the question "What is the definition of 'Fractals'?", Professor Mandelbrot answered aptly, "If you tell me the definition of 'Complex Analysis' or ’Probability Theory', I'll tell you the definition of 'Fractals'"

All in all, everyone had an enjoyable time at the MAA Student Lecture.

Professor Mandelbrot explains fractals

MAA Student Paper Sessions

Sixty-eight undergraduate students participated and competed in eight sessions of student paper presentations at this year's MathFest. They demonstrated a wonderful enthusiasm for and mastery of all sorts of matters mathematical, and they relished the opportunity to hobnob with kindred spirits from other colleges and universities. A complete list of the MAA student speakers, titles, and abstracts can still be found at (look for the MathFest 2004 section on Tom Kelley's web page).

The best-in-session awards were presented to the following students:

Christina Brakken-Thal, Williams College, White Blood Cell Models and Chemotherapy

Nathanial Burch, Grand Valley State University, Higher Order Lanczos’ Derivatives

Anthony DeLegge, Benedictine University, Regular Stick Numbers of (2,q) Torus Knots

Shawn Elledge, Arizona State University, From Number Theory to Groups via Graph Pebbling

Stephanie Hurder, Harvard University, Curvature and Surfaces with Density

Matthew Katschke, Ohio Northern University, San Gaku Problems in Other Geometries

Kari Lock, Williams College, Simultaneous Approximation of Generalized Golden Ratios

Robert Willenbring, St. John’s University, Combinatorial Representations of RNA Secondary Structures

In addition, Nicholas McClure of St. John’s University (Minnesota), won the MAA SIG award in environmental modeling for his paper, A Population Model of Dispersal and Extinction, and Mohammed Haque of Columbia College won the CUR award for his paper, Applications of the Omega Transform in Algebraic Geometry

Professor Mandelbrot (right) poses with MAA Student Papers best-in-session winners. Front (l-r): Stephanie Hurder, Kari Lock, and Christina Brakken-Thal. Back (l-r): Matt Katschke, Robert Willenbring, Nicholas McClure, and Nathanial Burch, winner of the MAA environmental math SIG award. Not shown: Shawn Elledge, Anthony DeLegge

MAA MCM Winners

The 2004 Mathematical Contest in Modeling posed two problems:

A: Are Fingerprints Unique?

B: A Faster QuickPass System

From the 599 solution papers presented (202 for A; 397 for B), the MCM judges chose three A papers and four B papers as Outstanding and Publishable. From these papers, the MAA judges chose one award-winning team in each category. At a special MathFest session, members of the winning teams made presentations of their solutions. The Problem A team’Brian Camley, Pascal Getreuer, and Bradley Klingenberg with advisor Anne Dougherty’was from the University of Colorado, Boulder. The Problem B team’Ivan Corwin, Sheel Ganatra, and Nikita Rozenblyum with advisor Clifford Taubes’came from Harvard University

MCM winners Corwin & Rozenblyum

Student Hospitality Center

The Student Hospitality Center, sponsored by the Mathematical Association of America, was a success at Mathfest 2004. Hundreds of students and professors came by to enjoy refreshments and interact. Student speaker programs, meeting updates, math puzzles, copies of Math Horizons, and refreshments awaited the students and professors. Located in the exhibit hall, the Student Hospitality Center was open during the entire meeting. For information about the Student Hospitality Center, contact Richard or Araceli Neal at 1-800-229-1725 or at PO Box 60434, Oklahoma City, OK 73146.

Enjoying some refreshments at the Hospitality Center

National Math Championship

The seventh annual US National Collegiate Mathematics Championship took place in Providence during Mathfest 2004. On Saturday evening, the last day of Mathfest, several dozen students were present to compete in the final event of The Problem Solving Competition. This competition is a monthly problem-solving activity for colleges and universities. Colleges send their top problem solver to the US National Collegiate Mathematics Championship held at MathFest each year.

Competing students were given several math problems to solve. Students all started with the same problem, and they were then given each subsequent problem only after solving its predecessor. The winner was the first person to solve all seven problems.

First place in the
US went to Eric Malm of Harvey Mudd College. Harvey Mudd has entered students in the championship each year of the last seven. Second place went to Michael Hoffman of the University of Utah. Third place went to Zavosh Koshravi and fourth place went to Jeremy Hamilton of Youngstown State University.

All winning students received beautiful red white and blue plaques. All participants received T-shirts and silver medallions. The first place prize was a TI-92 calculat
or and an internship to the Lawrence Livermore National Research Laboratory

For information on how your students can participate in The Problem Solving Competition and the US National Collegiate Mathematics Championship, contact Dr. Richard Neal at by email at or by calling 1-800-229-1725.

Participants in the Problem Solving Competition

In Other News......

New Student Web Page

The new, improved student web page is online! Go to, click on Students, and then on Undergraduate Students. Many thanks to Michael Pearson and Chris Proesel for all their help.

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Whassup in Atlanta?

Student Poster Session

The 2005 Undergraduate Student Poster Session will take place on Friday January 7 in Atlanta, Georgia , at the Joint Annual Meeting of the AMS, MAA, and AWM.

Prof. Mario Martelli of Claremont McKenna College is the organizer. The MAA Committee on Undergraduate Students Activities and Chapters (CUSAC) sponsors the Session. Please apply early, since the space is limited! Posters are expected to present a new result, or a different proof of a known theorem, or an innovative solution of a Putnam problem etc. Purely expository posters cannot be accepted. Send items 1-6 below to Prof. Mario Martelli, Mathematics Department, Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA 91711 or e-mail to

(PDF format, TeX, or Microsoft Word).

1. Title of the project

2. Abstract (not longer than ½ page)

3. Names and affiliation of all authors

4. Name, e-mail, and telephone of the student who will be in touch with Prof. Martelli regarding the logistics of the presentation

5. Name(s) and affiliation(s) of advisors

6. Sources of financial support

Each poster will be evaluated by at least three judges. Prizes will be awarded to the best posters with money provided by the AMS, MAA, AWM, CUR, PME and by the Moore Foundation.

Prof. Diana Thomas ( is in charge of coordinating the accommodations of students participating in the Poster Session. Please get in touch with her if you are interested in this service.

Mathematical Experiences for Students Outside the Classroom

MAA special session: Saturday afternoon; Kay B. Somers*, Moravian College (, and Jody M. Sorensen, Grand Valley State University. Mathematics "happens" both inside and outside the classroom, and, in fact, many mathematics majors are drawn to the subject through a special event sponsored by a student chapter or math club. This session seeks presentations by academic, industrial, business, and/or student mathematicians so that the audience will be encouraged to organize and run special events for their students. Descriptions of non-classroom activities could include, but are not limited to, special lectures, workshops for students, math days, math fairs, research projects for students, math career days, student conferences, recreational mathematics activities, problem-solving activities and contests, general community-building activities, and student consulting projects. Information on how such activities are organized and carried out, what activities especially grab students' interests, how students are contacted and encouraged to participate, and how the events are funded will be especially helpful. This session is organized by the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters.

MAA Student Lecture

Robin J. Wilson
, The Open University, Victorian Combinatorics, Friday, 1:00 p.m.

An expert in graph theory, Dr. Wilson is the author of many articles and books on the subject, including Graph Theory, 1736-1936 (with co-authors Norman Biggs and Keith Lloyd). He is also a popular lecturer. MAA Associate Secretary Jim Tattersall, who schedules rooms for talks at the Joint Mathematics Meetings, learned at the 1999 meeting that a room with capacity for 500 could not accommodate all those to wished to hear Dr. Wilson, and ever since, he has ’never failed to schedule Robin in the largest room available.â? As Dr. Tattersall notes, ’Robin’s mathematical and historical research is first class as is his ability to give brilliant lectures. He is known in the educational, historical, and mathematical communities in the States as a highly regarded mathematician who can deliver interesting, informative, and entertaining lectures to a wide range of audiences. He is an excellent lecturer and well-respected scholar.â?

Student Hospitality Center

Wednesday ’ Friday, 9:00 a.m. ’ 5:00 p.m., and Saturday, 9:00 a.m. ’ 3:00 p.m., organized by Richard Neal, University of Oklahoma. A reception for undergraduates will be held here on Wednesday, 4:00 p.m . ’ 5:00 p.m.

Joint PME and MAA Student Chapter Advisors' Breakfast

Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m.


News: Student Reception, New Student Web Page’Betty Mayfield; MAA Student Lecture’Jody Sorenson; MAA Student Workshop’Jean Bee Chan; National Mathematics Championship and Student Hospitality Center’Richard Neal; Student Paper Sessions’Thomas Kelley.

Photos: Student Reception’Betty Mayfield; MAA Student Lecture’Jody Sorenson; Student Hospitality Center’Hal Nesbitt; MCM winners’Frank Morgan; others’Editor.

!!Important Change to Student Chapter Membership!!

The MAA has made a change in your undergraduate student’s membership to better serve them. We have heard from you that a calendar year membership does not work well for students, so we are changing that.

  • Undergraduate student memberships are transitioning to the school year with a start date of September 1, 2004 and an end date of August 31, 2005.
New chapter members will simply adopt the new start and end dates. Renewing chapter members have already paid through December 31, 2004 so they will receive a renewal notice from the MAA for a September 1, 2004 through August 31, 2005 membership with a rebate lowering the price by the amount of the dues they already paid for the period September 1 through December 31, 2004. If chapter members do not renew for the new year, they will still maintain their membership and all benefits through December 31, 2004.

P.S. - Chapter members can now join or renew their MAA membership online! See below for details.

MAA Student Chapter Members Renew or Join the MAA Online

Student chapter members can now join the MAA or renew their existing membership online.

Instructions for Renewing Members:
  • Go to
  • Go to "Join MAA"
  • Click on "Renew Your Membership"
  • Log-In - Initially your username is your member ID number (located on your paper renewal or FOCUS newsletter mailing label) and your password is your last name
Instructions for New Members:
  • Go to
  • Go to "Join MAA"
  • Click on "Join MAA"
  • Select "Undergraduate"
The online membership system is intended for individuals to renew their MAA membership or join the MAA; all applicable credits and adjustments will appear in the online system.

Students renewing online may use Visa or MasterCard to pay their dues.

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Contact Information

How to Reach the MAA

For Membership Information, Subscriptions, and Publication Orders contact:

The MAA Service Center
P.O. Box
, DC 20090-1622
or (301)617-9415
FAX: (301) 206-9789

For the MAA Headquarters:

The Mathematical Association of America
Eighteenth Street, NW
, DC 20036-1385
or (202) 387-5200
FAX: (202) 265-2384

How to Contact the Chapter Newsletter Editor

Suggestions, concerns, and/or contributions of articles for the CUSAC newsletter may be sent to:

John Holte
Department of Mathematics and Computer Science
Gustavus Adolphus College
800 W. College Avenue
St. Peter, MN 56082
(507) 933 - 7465