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MAA Student Chapters Newsletters - Fall 2005

Fall 2005

Introduction Albuquerque Activities Report Set Your Sights on San Antonio Credits


The Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio

Enjoy the mild weather and the river walk of San Antonio when the AMS and MAA hold the 2006 Joint Mathematics Meetings at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center from Thursday, January 12, through Sunday, January 15. The activities for students will include the Student Hospitality Center with a reception Thursday afternoon, the Undergraduate Students Poster Session, the MAA Student Lecture, and the session on Research and Other Mathematical Experiences for Students outside the Classroom. Information on these activities may be found inside in the section ’Set Your Sights on San Antonio.â?

MathFest 2005: Albuquerque

Beautiful weather and the scenic surroundings of Albuquerque, New Mexico, greeted the math people who attended MathFest 2005. Professor John Harris of Furman University actively engaged the students in graph-theoretic challenges in the MAA Student Activities Session, and Professors Annalisa Crannell and Marc Franz appeared as famous actress Annalisa Monalisa Cranberry and producer Stephen ’Marcâ? Frantzberg to present the blockbuster hit Projection at the MAA Student Lecture. Undergraduate student participation in the Student Papers Sessions hit an all-time high at this conference, and the teams that won the MAA’s Mathematical Contest in Modeling awards gave impressive presentations. The conference closed with the U.S. National Collegiate Mathematics Championship. For a report on these and other activities, check out the Albuquerque Activities Report.

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Albuquerque Activities

Albuquerque Student Reception

The annual MAA/PME Student Reception was held on Wednesday, August 3, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. in the Fiesta Room of the Hyatt Hotel. More than one hundred students, advisors, and MAA/PME officers attended this opening event for MathFest 2005. 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 Knoxville next summer!

Student Activities Session: Walking on Long Paths
by Betty Mayfield

Prof. Harris got students actively involved in graph-theoretic activities.

For two hours on Saturday afternoon, August 6th, the Brazos Room of the Albuquerque Convention Center was alive with undergraduate ’vertices,â? armed with the names of their ’friends,â? attempting to form the longest possible chain in a graph. This scene was part of the MAA student workshop, led this year by John Harris of Furman University. Prof. Harris started with some simple, familiar definitions (vertices, edges, Euler and Hamiltonian paths) and quickly moved on to some open research questions in graph theory. Faculty advisors later reported that, at dinner that night, their students could not stop talking about the workshop. The event, a tradition at MathFest, features a mathematician leading students in a hands-on, dynamic session. It is fun and instructive and often introduces students to new areas of mathematics. Many thanks to Prof. Harris for an excellent workshop this summer.

Join us next year in Knoxville, when our activities leader will be James Tanton, author of Solve This! Math Activities for Students and Clubs.

Lights, Camera, Freeze!
by Mario Martelli

The MAA Student Lecture by Annalisa Crannell from Franklin & Marshall College and Marc Franz from Indiana University was very well received by the audience of students and faculty. It was informative, entertaining, and challenging at the same time. Here is a brief abstract of the two authors’ effort.

Director/Producer Stephen "Marc" Frantzberg teamed up with the world-famous actress Annalisa Monalisa Cranberry to bring us the new blockbuster hit, Projection. Spanning the centuries between Renaissance perspective painting and modern cinematic special effects, Projection revealed the true secrets behind projecting a 3-dimensional world onto a 2-dimensional canvas (or movie screen). We laughed, we cried, and reached the vanishing point.

The key part was to "project a 3-dimensional world onto a 2-dimensional canvas (or movie screen)". The two speakers explained what a "vanishing point" means mathematically, talked about how to find the correct viewing position for a perspective piece, and showed how cute perspective tricks are used in Hollywood movies.

Marc Frantz and Annalisa Crannell teamed up initially in 1995 as part of a Math Across the Curriculum (MATC) grant that the NSF awarded to Indiana University. Over the years, they have developed a bunch of classroom materials that use real art problems (like, if you draw two fence posts along a road that goes back into the distance, where do you place the next fence posts?) that require interesting mathematical solutions. They did run a series of summer workshops (called "Viewpoints") for instructors in mathematics and/or art on using these materials, and they are currently writing a textbook which is funded by NSF and which will be published by Princeton University Press.

Professor Annalisa Crannell as the movie star Annalisa Monalisa Cranberry

Albuquerque Student Paper Sessions
by Ed Keppelmann

With 10 sessions and 67 presentations this year’s contributed paper sessions were the largest in the event’s history. I speak for all the judges and CUSAC committee members when I say that the variety and depth of the research presented was nothing short of spectacular. From applied research in population dynamics, bioinformatics, art and music, and medical and environmental modeling to theoretical investigations in number theory, bubbles, knots, hyperbolic geometry, ring theory and even talks on the history of mathematics, it is quite certain to everyone involved that these students are headed for great graduate careers and consequently that the future of mathematics research is in wonderfully capable hands. We were all so proud to be associated with their achievements. The winners were as follows. (Their full abstracts and contact information are available at .)

1. CUR award: Alexander Zupan of Gustavus Adolphus College for Numbers and Patterns in Segments in the Hausdorff Metric Geometry

2. Carl Erickson of Stanford University for Class Number Divisibility of Global Fields, part II

3. Alan Covert of Arizona State University for Dispersal and Connectivity in a Stochastic Multi-City Epidemic Model

4. Daniel Walton of Harvey Mudd College for Diophantine Approximations of Real Curves in the Plane

5. Thomas Kindred of Williams College for Surfaces Bounded by Alternating Knots

6. Nicholas Yates for Irrational Numbers and the Notion of Equivalence

7. Samuel Kolins of Bowdoin College for Spans of the Derivatives of Polynomials

8. Joseph Kolenick of Youngstown State University for his Solution to American Mathematical Monthly Problem #11103

9. Sarah Fritsch of Sam Houston State University for her study on The Life and Work of Georg Cantor

10. Diana Davis of Williams College for her talk on Curvature in the Gauss Plane and Minimizing Curves

11. SIGMAA Environmental Mathematics award to Nicole Casacchia of Youngstown State University for her Statistical Analysis of Downed Trees in a Riparian Valley

12. SIAM award to Andrew Harrell of Texas A&M University for his development of Moore-Penrose Interpolation Methods

13. SIAM award to John Gemmer of Millersville University of Pennsylvania for his talk on The General Brachistochrone Problem

Research paper winners: Alex Zupan (MAA)
and Chantel Blackburn (PME)

Dr. Fusaro and SIGMAA Environmental Math
award winner Nicole Casacchia

Andrew Harrell, Don Miller, John Gemmer

MAA-MCM Winners
by Ben Fusaro

The two MAA Winners of the 2005 Mathematical Contest in Modeling’Duke University, NC and the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon’presented their results on Saturday afternoon. This COMAP-sponsored contest consists of two open-ended problems, a continuous one and a discrete one.

The Saskatchewan team, made up of Michael Barnett, Jennifer Kohlenberg and Scott Wood chose the continuous problem. They were asked to come up with a scenario for the flooding that would occur if the Lake Murray (SC) earthen dam were breached by a catastrophic earthquake. They were chosen from among 192 teams.

The Duke team, made up of Pradeep Baliga, Adam Chandler and Matthew Mian chose the discrete problem. They were asked to make a model to help you determine the optimal number of tollbooths to deploy in a barrier-toll plaza that would minimize motorists’ wait-time. The Duke team was chosen from among 492 teams.

Kohlenberg, Barnett, and Wood

Baliga, Chandler, and Mian

The teams had three full days to construct their models and write up their results. Each team member had only a few minutes to present at MathFest, and they made efficient use of power point presentations, leaving the audience very impressed. The full problem statements are rather long and can be found at

The faculty advisor for the Saskatchewan team is Professor James A. Brooke, and for the Duke team it is Professor W. Garrett Mitchener. The MCM judges were Kathleen Shannon, Salisbury University, MD, and Marie Vanisko, Stanislaus State University, CA.

Problem Solving Competition
by Richard Neal

A Duke student won first place in the 2005 U. S. National Collegiate Mathematics Championship held at MathFest in Albuquerque. Pradeep Baliga, a 21-year-old Duke senior, finished all 7 problems posed to him before the rest of the field. Second place went to Gregory Minton, a sophomore at Harvey Mudd College. Harvey Mudd has had continual placers in the USNCMC in past years including the first-place finisher last year. Third place went to Adam Chandler, a senior from Duke University. Fourth place went to Patrick Dixon, a senior from Occidental College. The seven problems presented to the students at the USNCMC call for a diverse background of mathematics knowledge and skill. The USNCMC is the finals for The Problem Solving Competition, a monthly mathematics problem solving contest held locally at hundreds of colleges and universities in the United States and other countries. This year, 150 additional colleges have registered for the monthly problems and The Problem Solving Competition. There is no charge for the monthly competition and there is no entry fee for your students to compete in the MathFest championship. All competitors receive beautiful red white and blue medallions and T-shirts. The first four finishers receive plaques in the shape of the United States. Texas Instruments provides computer prizes for the championship.

If your mathematics department does not receive the monthly Problem Solving Competition problems and if you are interested in having your college or university represented at this year’s MathFest in Knoxville at the championship, contact Dr. Richard Neal, The Problem Solving Competition, Box 60434, Oklahoma City, OK, 73146, USA;; 1-800-229-1725.
Richard Neal and National Problem Solving
Competition winners (l-r): #2 Gregory Minton, #1
Pradeep Baliga, and #3 Adam Chandler.

Student Hospitality Center
by Richard Neal

The Student Hospitality Center at MathFest in Albuquerque was located in the center of the action in the exhibits area across from the email area. There were more than 100 visitors each day of the meeting. Many student visitors congregated and discussed their presentations and talks, socialized, and enjoyed the free refreshments. The Student Hospitality Center is sponsored by the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters. It has become a place to keep up with the flow of the meeting, to leave messages, to meet others and talk, or just to relax between sessions. Programs for the student talks, Pi Mu Epsilon T-shirts, MAA T-shirts, and other materials such as transparencies and markers were available for students. Judges picked up their packets at the center. Handouts and announcements to chapter advisors and students were also available. Please look for the Student Hospitality Center at the Joint Winter meetings as well as at MathFest each year.

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Set Your Sights on San Antonio

Undergraduate Poster Session

The January 2006 Undergraduate Research Poster Competition will be held at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio on Saturday, January 14, 2006 from 4:00-6:30 pm. Please encourage students who have completed an undergraduate research project to submit their abstracts online at /students/undergrad/poster06.html.

We are also seeking judges for the competition. If you or your colleagues are interested in judging the contest, they can submit their information online at /students/undergrad/judges06.html.

We are looking forward to your participation in January! For more information please contact Diana Thomas at

Outside the Classroom

The Contributed Paper Session titled ’Research and Other Mathematical Experiences for Students outside the Classroomâ? is organized by the MAA Committee on Undergraduate Student Activities and Chapters and by the CUPM Subcommittee on Undergraduate Research. Here is a summary of the session:

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 or through special research projects and programs. 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 activities could include, but are not limited to, special lectures, workshops for students, Math Days/Fairs, student conferences, recreational mathematics activities, problem solving activities and contests, general community-building activities, and student consulting projects. We especially encourage information about student research projects and programs, including program logistics and project ideas. 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.

The contact organizer is: Kay Somers, Moravian College, Co-organizers are: Susan Morey, Texas State University; Sivaram K. Narayan, Central Michigan University; Jody Sorensen, Grand Valley State University.

MAA Student Lecture

The MAA Student Lecture at the Joint Meetings will be given this year by Marc Chamberland of Grinnell College. Prof. Chamberland’s mathematics degrees are from the University of Waterloo, where he wrote a dissertation on ’The Pompeiu Problem and Schiffer's Conjecture.â? He has served as a post-doctoral fellow, visiting researcher, and visiting professor at several Canadian universities and has been at Grinnell since 1997.

Even as an undergraduate, Chamberland distinguished himself, scoring in the top 3% of all participants in the Putnam competition and spending two summers conducting research with the assistance of a summer research scholarship. As a faculty member, he has directed many undergraduate students in their own research, helping to train a new generation of young mathematicians.

Dr. Chamberland will speak to us in San Antonio on ’The Many Faces of Pi.â? This talk brings together ancient and cutting edge results, results related to analysis, geometry, probability, and theoretical computer science. He will also give us a look at some of the people involved in the history of pi ’ some human faces related to the topic.

MAA Diversity Initiative

CUSAC administers a small grant program called the MAA Diversity Initiative, designed to help college faculty bring students from under-represented groups to the Joint Meetings. Institutions may apply for travel mini-grants of up to $500 per college or university, to cover some of the costs of registration, travel, and housing. Last year faculty from fourteen institutions received grants to bring 53 students to the meetings in Atlanta.

Information about the program has been sent to directors of NREUP summer programs and to institutions in Texas, but we welcome applications from any faculty member who plans to bring students to the JMM who would help to add a little diversity to our numbers. For information and an application, contact Betty Mayfield: Deadline is December 1st.

Student Hospitatlity Center

The Student Hospitality Center will be open Thursday to Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and Sunday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. It is organized by Richard and Araceli Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics. A reception for undergraduates will be held here on Thursday, 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Advisor's Breakfast
The joint PME and MAA Student Chapter Advisors' Breakfast is scheduled for Saturday, 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

Pi Mu Epsilon Banquet

Friday, August 5, 6:00 pm ’ 7:45 pm

All undergraduate students and their supporters are welcome to attend this banquet, sponsored by PME and MAA. See the registration form for more information on this ticketed event.

Also of Interest to Students

Here is the schedule for some other events of interest to undergraduates extracted from I have also learned that there will be a contributed papers session on ’my three favorite calculus problems.â?

Undergraduate Career Paths in Mathematics, Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.

What Business Looks for in New Hires, Friday, 2:30 p.m. to 3:50 p.m.

Transitioning into Graduate School, Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 10:20 a.m.

MAA Student Research Programs, Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 2:20 p.m.

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Credits & Contact Information


News/announcements: Student Activities Session, MAA Student Lecture, Diversity Initiative’Betty Mayfield, Hood College; Student Lecture’Mario Martelli, Claremont McKenna College; Student Paper Sessions’Ed Keppelmann, University of Nevada, Reno; MAA-MCM winners’Ben Fusaro, Florida State University; Problem Solving Competition and Student Hospitality Center’Richard Neal, American Society for the Communication of Mathematics; Outside the Classroom’Kay Somers, Moravian College

Photos: Student Lecture photo #1’Mario Martelli; Student Paper Sessions #1’Paul Fishback, Grand Valley State University, #2 & #3’Hal Nesbitt, MAA; others’Editor.

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