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Invited Paper Sessions

Open and Accessible Areas in Computational Mathematics


Mathematics research employ modern computational tools (such as computer algebra systems and programming environments) to investigate mathematical concepts, formulate questions, perform mathematical experiments, gather numerical evidence, and test conjectures. Computational tools can help make certain areas of mathematics research accessible to students, providing points of entry where students can formulate and explore questions in number theory, algebra, topology, and more.

This session will highlight areas of mathematics where computational tools allow students to grapple with open questions. Talks will be aimed at a broad, non-expert audience. The use of computation for investigating mathematical topics, rather than computation employed for statistical analysis, is preferred. Discussion of connections between computational investigation and proof is encouraged.

Matthew Wright, St. Olaf College


Open & Accessible Problems for Undergraduate Research


More and more mathematics faculty members around the country are conducting math research with undergraduates. As the benefits to students and faculty of engaging in undergraduate research become apparent, the number of professors with an interest in doing undergraduate research grows. Indeed, many of us would like to begin a research project with students, but we may be unsure of how to choose problems that are accessible for students. The aim of this session is to have experienced undergraduate research mentors share open and accessible problems from a variety of mathematical fields that can be used to generate ideas for new undergraduate research projects.

Allison Henrich, Seattle University
Debra Hydorn, University of Mary Washington
Laramie Paxton, Marian University

Sponsor: SIGMAA on Undergraduate Research (UR SIGMAA)


Surprising Discoveries by Amateur Mathematicians


This session will focus on sometimes overlooked non-professionals who have solved interesting mathematical problems or made significant contributions to mathematical knowledge. These persons had no formal education in higher mathematics and pursued mathematical investigations in their own way. Martin Gardner inspired such amateurs throughout his career. Indeed, he himself never completed a math course past high school, yet contributed new mathematical results, many of them published in award-winning MAA papers. From the 19th century and earlier, we will learn of the mathematical contributions of Benjamin Franklin, Mary Somerville, Florence Nightingale, Thomas Kirkman, Henry Dudeney, and Alicia Boole Stott. From the 20th century to the present, in addition to Gardner, we will learn of patent officer Harry Lindgren, artist George Odom, postal worker Robert Ammann, surgeon Jan Gullberg, artist Anthony Hill and others. On Saturday, the Martin Gardner Lecture will feature three other amateur mathematicians who made surprising discoveries: M.C. Escher, Marjorie Rice, and Rinus Roelofs.

Doris Schattschneider, Professor Emerita of Mathematics, Moravian College
Colm Mulcahy, Spelman College


Eigenvalues and Graphs


Graphs can be used to represent the relations (edges) between objects (vertices), and so play an important role both in theoretical as well as applied settings. One important tool in understanding graphs is through the use of the eigenvalues and eigenvectors of matrices associated with graphs; this is sometimes known as spectral graph theory. There are many possible matrices that can be explored and each one brings its own strengths and weaknesses into understanding graphs. This session will bring together a variety of viewpoints of how eigenvalues and graphs are connected.

Steve Butler, Iowa State University


African American Women and the Mathematics of Flight


The 2016 book “Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race” featured stories about African American women who worked for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) from the 1930s through the 1960s. Several of these women were mathematicians: Katherine Johnson worked out the orbital mechanics of John Glenn’s orbit of the Earth in 1962; and Dr. Christine Darden revolutionized aerodynamics design to produce low-boom sonic effects in the 1970’s. Indeed, Katherine Johnson earned a BS in mathematics in 1937 and Dr. Christine Darden earned a MS in Mathematics in 1967. In this session, we will feature the mathematics of pioneers in flight such as Katherine Johnson Christine Darden; and we will discuss the history of African American women who have worked in the aeronautical industry.

Edray Goins, Pomona College
Christine Darden, Retired from NASA Langley Research Center


Women in Mathematics: Math in Action


Mathematics is in action within so many exciting non-mathematical settings, spanning from classical historical and cutting edge interplays between mathematics and physics, biology, and other sciences, to beautiful applications of mathematics to games, art, social justice, economics, and climate change, to name a few. Topics with possibly unexpected applications outside of mathematics include complexity classes, Ramsey colorings, tropical numbers, topology, hyperbolic surfaces, geodesics, and more.

In this session, we showcase current research done by women (and their students) of mathematics and statistics applied to a variety of non-mathematical settings.

Cassie Williams, James Madison University
Shanna Dobson, California State University, Los Angeles
Janet Fierson, La Salle University
Emelie Kenney, Siena College
Sarah Wolff, Denison University

Sponsor: Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM)


Supporting Student Success in Introductory Statistics through Evidence-Based Practices


Each academic year, over 600,000 students enroll in college introductory statistics courses, according to the 2015 CBMS survey. Enrollments have more than doubled since 2000. Although many of the new statistics students have sufficient mathematics fluency to succeed, many others struggle with algebra, numeric operations, and logic, leading to poor course outcomes. In this session, speakers will present evidence-based results from projects about supporting students enrolled in introductory statistics courses. Projects include identifying students in need of extra assistance with mathematical fluency and/or statistical content, and then implementing one of several ways to provide that assistance, including instructor-led sessions, computer-based support, and undergraduate-led supplemental instruction. Session speakers work at a variety of institutions, small and large, public and private. Though the context for the presentations is Introductory Statistics, the innovations and pedagogical practices presented are adaptable to any introductory college level mathematics course and have broader implications for supporting student success in first-year college level mathematics and statistics.

Judith Canner, California State Monterey Bay

SIGMAA on Statistics Education (SIGMAA StatEd)