# Section Visitors Program

Every MAA Section is eligible to have one Section Visitor per academic year from the Association leadership to attend and participate in a Section meeting, with all travel expenses borne by the MAA. Sections are not expected to provide the Visitor with an honorarium or stipend; the Section’s only financial obligation is to cover the registration fee and the cost of any associated social events. This popular program is a great way to find a dynamic speaker for your Section meeting, to energize your Section NExT group, to ask questions and share information with the Board of Directors.

### Why invite a Section Visitor?

The goals of this program are to:

• Provide the Association leadership with information about the unique features of the Sections they visit, with a more immediate sense of the concerns and issues facing the membership, and with a sense of the well-being of the Section, including how well it is fulfilling its mission.
• Provide the Section leadership with a perspective on trends in the Sections of the Association, with perceptions on the effectiveness of the management of the affairs of the Section, and with recognition for noteworthy Section activities and practices.
• Provide the members of the Section an opportunity to interact directly with the Association leadership though individual conversations and formal Section activities.

### What does a Section Visitor do?

To achieve these goals, each Section Visitor will participate in as much of the Section meeting as possible. In particular, the Section Visitor is expected to:

• Present at least one talk, workshop, or other activity agreed upon with the Section leadership.

These activities, and any other activities that the visitor is requested to lead, should be selected to align the experiences and talents of the Association leadership with the interests and needs of the Section.

• Attend and participate in any business meetings of the Section, meetings of the Section officers, liaison meetings, chairs’ meetings, and Section NExT activities. (Please make sure the Visitor is placed on the agenda of each of these meetings.)
• Participate in the social activities associated with the meeting.

After completing the visit, the Section Visitor will prepare a report for the MAA Board of Directors and the Committee on Sections, summarizing the activities that the visitor participated in or observed, noting those that should be shared with other Sections. The report should also reflect on the general health of the Section and areas in which the Section might improve. The Section Visitor will send a similar report to the Section officers and the Section representative.

### How to schedule a Section Visitor

Because many Section meetings are scheduled for a short "window" in the spring, Section Visitors are in high demand at that time. Therefore, Section leaders should extend an invitation as early as possible to the Section Visitor whom they want. The MAA Secretary and Chair of the Committee on Sections will assist if a Section has problems in scheduling a Section Visitor, but early planning is essential. When you invite a Visitor to your Section, please make it clear that you are inviting him/her as a Section Visitor. In order to ensure that the reimbursements are processed correctly, please notify Susan Kennedy of your section meeting speaker plans as soon as arrangements are made.

### Making your Section Visitor feel at home

Good advice for all invited guests

Each Section is asked to be a thoughtful host. In the crush of meeting details and the distribution of duties among Section officers and local arrangements folks, it is sometimes easy for responsibilities to fall through the cracks.

• Please be sure to consider your Visitor’s arrangements for travel, lodging, meals, local transportation and registration. If your Visitor arrives the night before, or stays the night after, the Section meeting, it is especially cordial that the Section consider evening dining arrangements. At least give visiting speakers options ("Do you need a ride?" or “Can we arrange for a cab?”) for airport pickups, get-togethers at meals, etc.
• Be sure to communicate fully about the schedule of events at your meeting.
• Make sure the Visitor is on the agenda for the Section business meeting, executive committee meeting, and any other appropriate events.
• Register your Visitor for the meeting! Prepare a name tag, meal tickets, and a program, and have them ready at the registration table.

### Section Visitors, Pólya Lecturers, and Section Representatives

Finally, it is important to note the distinction between the roles of the Pólya Lecturers, the Section Representatives, and the Section Visitors:

• Pólya Lecturers are leading members of the mathematical community, selected because they are outstanding speakers who are available to deliver an invited address during the Section meeting; they do not represent the leadership of the Association. Each Section may invite a Pólya Lecturer once every five years.
• The Section Representative is the Section’s official liaison with the Association; he or she reports the official actions of the Congress to the Section and communicates issues from the Section directly to the Congress. Section Representatives are provided materials by the Association to assist in this communication.
• Section Visitors are among the senior leadership of the Association and a primary purpose of their visits is to assist the Section leadership in maintaining healthy Sections by bringing to the Section leadership ideas of successful activities from other Sections and provide a means of communication between the leadership and the members.

### The Association leaders who are currently designated as Section Visitors

###### Allen Butler, Treasurer, Board of Directors
Daniel H. Wagner, Associates,
Email: allennotwork@gmail.com

Available as a speaker: through Spring 2025

Topics include:

Bayes’ Theorem – Making Rational Decisions in the Face of Uncertainty

Abstract: A statement of Bayes’ Theorem (aka Bayes’ Rule) can be written very succinctly, but this belies its far-reaching consequences. In this talk, I will provide a little of the history behind Bayes’ Theorem, a derivation of the mathematical basis in probabilistic terms, and a description of the less formal basis where it is viewed as a form of evidential or inferential reasoning. I will illustrate the utility of Bayes’ Theorem by describing applications from the work of my former company, Daniel H. Wagner Associates, Inc. One of these resulted in the location and recovery of the “Ship of Gold”, the SS Central America, a side-wheel steamer carrying nearly six hundred passengers returning from the California Gold Rush, which sank in a hurricane two hundred miles off the Carolina coast in September 1857.

Students considering Non-Academic Careers? – Help!

Abstract: Most professors have spent their entire careers wandering academic halls. It’s no wonder they sometimes struggle with the task of advising students on non-academic careers. In this talk, we’ll look at ways to help such students. What advice can you give students about finding the right jobs? How can students best prepare themselves to be successful, both in the interview process and in their new career? Are internships really valuable and how does a student get one? What can students expect when they transition from the classroom to the “real world”?

Building a Successful Company – With Mathematicians???

Abstract: In 1963, Dr. Dan Wagner founded his eponymous company, Daniel H. Wagner, Associates, with two guiding principles in mind: hire young mathematicians, then train them to solve real-world problems; and teach them that the quality of the writing in the technical reports and briefings is nearly as important as the technical content itself. Through the years, the company developed an impressive reputation for mathematical analysis applied to the budding field of Search Theory (find the lost H-bomb, find the sunken treasure, find the enemy submarine, etc.), and this continues to be an area of expertise today. At the same time, the company demonstrated the breadth of its capabilities by working in areas as diverse as DNA sequencing, retirement planning, crane anti-sway, speech recognition, speaker verification, and random number generation on GPUs.

###### Tim Chartier, Chair, Congress
Davidson College
Email: tichartier@davidson.edu

Available as a speaker: through Spring 2022

Topics include:

Get in the Game: Math and Sports Analytics

Abstract: Sports analytics has gathered tremendous momentum as one of the most dynamic fields. Diving deep into the numbers of sports can be game changing or simply a fun exercise for fans. How do you get inthe game with numbers? What questions can be explored? What actionable insights can be gleaned? From March Madness to national media broadcasts, analytics are becoming increasingly indispensable. Dr. Tim Chartier will discuss outlooks that help with successful analytics, and the variety of questions that can be tackled. He will also share how he leads students to dig into sports using math and computer science, and their great success across the NBA, NFL, NASCAR, ESPN and his own college teams. Learn how to get in thegame — as a sports analyst!

Putting a Spring in Yoda’s Step

Abstract: When the character Yoda first appeared on the silver screen, his movements were due to theefforts of famed muppeteer Frank Oz. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Yoda returned to themovies but this time the character was not a puppet but a digital image within a computer. This talk will discuss the role, or more aptly the force, of mathematics behind a few aspects of movie special effects. Armed with differential equations, animators can create a believable flow to Yoda’s robe or a convincing digital stunt person.

Comment: This talk requires permission from LucasFilms as I use images and video from them.

Mathematical Celebrity Look-Alikes

Abstract: Have you ever wondered what celebrities you look like? This talk develops a mathematical answer to this question from a group of celebrity photos. Vectors norms enable us to discern what celebrity looks most like a selected individual. Then, we broaden the question to explore what linear combination of celebrity photos best approximates a selected photo. Would you describe yourself as a cross between Dwayne Johnson and Ryan Reynolds? maybe Halle Berry and Lucy Liu? or possibly Jennifer Lopez and Nicole Kidman? In this talk, we learn how to answer this question using mathematical methods from undergraduate linear algebra classes.

March Mathness

Abstract: Every year, people across the United States predict how the field of 65 teams will play in the Division I NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by filling out a tournament bracket for the postseason play. This talk discusses two popular rating methods that are also used by the Bowl Championship Series, the organization that determines which college football teams are invited to which bowl games. The two methods are the Colley Method and the Massey Method, each of which computes a ranking by solving a system of linear equations. We also touch on how to adapt the methods to take late season momentum into account. We also see how the methods did in creating mathematically-produced brackets for 2010 March Madness.

Mime-matics

Abstract: In Mime-matics, Tim Chartier explores mathematical ideas through the art of mime. Whether creating an illusion of an invisible wall, wearing a mask covered with geometric shapes or pulling on an invisible rope, Dr. Chartier delves into mathematical concepts such as estimation, tiling, and infinity. Through Mime-matics, audiences encounter math through the entertaining style of a performing artist who have performed at local, national and international settings.

###### Michael Dorff, Past President
Brigham Young University
Email: mdorff@math.byu.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2022

Topics include:

Workshops for Faculty and Other Teachers (50-90 minutes):
How Mathematics Is Making Hollywood Movies Better

What’s your favorite movie? Star Wars? Avatar? The Avengers? Frozen? What do these and all the highest earning Hollywood movies since 2000 have in common? Mathematics! You probably didn’t think about it while watching these movies, but math was used to help make them. In this presentation, we will discuss how math is being used to create better and more realistic movies. Along the way we will discuss some specific movies and the mathematics behind them. We will include examples from Disney’s 2013 movie Frozen (how to use math to create realistic looking snow) to Pixar’s 2004 movie The Incredibles (how to use math to make an animated character move faster). Come and join us and get a better appreciation of mathematics and movies

The Best Jobs Last Century? – Doctor And Lawyer. The Best Jobs This Century? – Mathematician/STEM Careers!

###### Emille Davie Lawrence, Officer-at-large
University of San Francisco
Email: edlawrence@usfca.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2023

Exploring Mathematics Across Civilizations

Close your eyes and ask yourself, “Who are the greatest contributors to modern mathematics?” Do you have your answer? There is a good chance that one of Newton, Gauss, Euler, Galois, Cauchy, Cantor, or Noether appeared on your list. While these are indeed important figures in today’s mathematical landscape, what is largely absent from our mathematics education are the contributions of African, Indigenous, Oceanic, and people from other non-European cultures. The aim of this talk will be to provide thought-provoking insight into the mathematics of cultures that are often overlooked in American schools and universities. We will also highlight how these ideas can be presented in our own teaching as we work towards culturally responsive ways to engage students and towards presenting mathematics as a diverse human experience

###### Lisa Marano, Chair, Committee on Sections
West Chester University
Email: lmarano@wcupa.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2024

Topic: Mathematics and Service Learning

First-year seminars, learning communities, service-learning courses, undergraduate research projects, and capstone experiences are among a list of high-impact educational practices compiled by George Kuh (2008), which measurably influence students’ success in areas such as student engagement and retention. It is recommended that all college students participate in at least two of these HIPs to deepen their approaches to learning, as well as to increase the transference of knowledge (Gonyea, Kinzie, Kuh, & Laird, 2008). In Mathematics, if a student participates in service-learning, it is typically in the form of tutoring, in conjunction with a school or with an after-school program, or consulting for a non-profit by modeling or performing statistical analysis. I discuss a number of service-learning projects which were developed for mathematics courses, neither of which involves these traditional opportunities. I also describe my current research project which has potential impact on my community and yours.

###### Michael Pearson, Executive Director

Mathematical Association of America, 1529 18th Street NW, Washington DC 20036
Email: pearson@maa.org

###### Jenny Quinn, President
University of Washington Tacoma
Email: jjquinn@uw.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2024

Topics include:

Solving Mathematical Mysteries
Much as mysteries in fiction consider evidence, find common patterns, and draw logical conclusions to solve crimes, mathematical mysteries are unlocked using the same tools. This talk exposes secrets behind a numerical magic trick, a geometric puzzle, and an unknown quantity to find a fascinating pattern with connections to art, architecture, and nature.

Epic Math Battles: Counting vs. Matching

Which technique is mathematically superior? The audience will judge of this tongue-in-cheek combinatorial competition between the mathematical techniques of counting and matching. Be prepared to explore positive and alternating sums involving binomial coefficients, Fibonacci numbers, and other beautiful combinatorial quantities. How are the terms in each sum concretely interpreted? What is being counted? What is being matched? Which is superior? You decide.

Digraphs and Determinants

In linear algebra, you learned how to compute and interpret n × n determinants. Along the way, you likely encountered some interesting matrix identities involving beautiful patterns. Are these determinantal identities coincidental or is there something deeper involved?
In this talk, I will show you that determinants can be understood combinatorially by counting paths in well-chosen directed graphs. We will work to connect digraphs and determinants using two approaches: Given a “pretty” matrix, can we design a (possibly weighted) digraph that clearly visualizes its determinant? Given a “nice” directed graph, can we find an associated matrix and its determinant?
Previous knowledge of determinants is an advantage but not a necessity.

Proofs That Really Count

Every proof in this talk reduces to a counting problem---typically enumerated in two different ways. Counting leads to beautiful, often elementary, and very concrete proofs. While not necessarily the simplest approach, it offers another method to gain understanding of mathematical truths. To a combinatorialist, this kind of proof is the only right one. I have selected some favorite identities using Fibonacci numbers, binomial coefficients, Stirling numbers, and more. Hopefully when you encounter identities in the future, the first question to pop into your mind will not be "Why is this true?" but "What does this count?"
This talk is a “Choose your own adventure”™ where the content is guided by the input and desires of the audience.

###### James Sellers, Secretary
University of Minnesota - Duluth
Email: jsellers@d.umn.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2022

Revisiting What Euler and the Bernoullis Knew About Convergent Infinite Series

All too often in first-year calculus classes, conversations about infinite series stop with discussions about convergence or divergence. Such interactions are, unfortunately, not often illuminating or intriguing. Interestingly enough, Jacob and Johann Bernoulli and Leonhard Euler (and their contemporaries in the early 18th century) knew quite a bit about how to find the *exact* values of numerous families of convergent infinite series. In this talk, I will show two sets of *exact* results in this vein. The talk will be accessible to anyone interested in mathematics.

On Euler’s Partition Theorem Relating Odd-Part Partitions and Distinct-Part Partitions

In the mid-18th century, Leonhard Euler single-handedly began the serious study of integer partitions and made fundamental contributions to the area for the next few decades. In particular, he proved a remarkable result which says that the number of partitions of the integer n into distinct parts equals the number of partitions of n into odd parts. My goal in this talk is to discuss Euler's impressive work on partitions, including snapshots of historical (original) publications of Euler, and then to describe numerous 20th and 21st century results which spring from Euler's original result. The talk will be self-contained and geared for both students and faculty alike.

Cool Results Involving Fibonacci Numbers and Compositions

Compositions provide a wonderful backdrop for a number of well-known families of numbers, especially the Fibonacci numbers. In this talk, we will gently introduce the idea of a composition of an integer (which is just an ordered sum of integers), and then discuss how various families of compositions give rise to the Fibonacci numbers, Jacobsthal numbers, and a host of generalizations. The talk will be completely self-contained and understandable by all, especially undergraduate students interested in mathematics. Conjectures and opportunities for possible undergraduate research will be discussed at the end of the talk.

Advising Mathematics Students Academically and Professionally (suitable as a Section NExT workshop)

Mathematics Research With Undergraduates: Stories of Personal Success (suitable as a Section NExT workshop)

For the past several years of my career, I have enjoyed working with undergraduates on mathematical research projects of various types, from senior capstone experiences and research-intensive independent study courses to full-fledged research projects. I have found each of these experiences truly enriching, especially those endeavors which ended with refereed publications. (I have been privileged to write at least half a dozen papers with undergraduate co-authors!) In this talk I will share many of the details of these experiences. I will strive to answer the "why" and "how" of doing mathematical research with undergraduate students, from my perspectives at a small school (Cedarville University) and a large school (Penn State University). My hope is that I will inspire you to complete such projects with your students and that you and I will get to talk about some mathematics along the way.

Bates College
Email: asalerno@bates.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2024
The stories we tell

Abstract: Stories are how we make sense of our world and ourselves. In a mathematics classroom, whether we notice it or not, we tell stories -- about what mathematics is and who it’s for. Additionally, each person in that classroom (teachers and students) brings in their own stories and experiences with mathematics. In this talk, I will share how acknowledging and making room for different stories has shaped my classroom and my own growth as an educator. And of course, there will be stories.

Language, probability, and cryptography

Abstract: What rules define a language? Can we use this information to decrypt secret messages? In this talk, we look at the application of Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) methods to decrypt different types of substitution ciphers. By studying the state changes in consecutive letters of a particular language, one can program a computer to make exceptionally ‘smart’ guesses as to what an encrypted message actually says. We will discuss some famous examples, and how this can be made into a particularly interesting undergraduate research project.

Higher dimensional origami constructions

Abstract: Origami is an ancient art that continues to yield both artistic and scientific insights to this day. In 2012, Buhler, Butler, de Launey, and Graham extended these ideas even further by developing a mathematical construction inspired by origami — one in which we iteratively construct points on the complex plane (the “paper”) from a set of starting points (or “seed points”) and lines through those points with prescribed angles (or the allowable “folds” on our paper). Any two lines with these prescribed angles through the seed points that intersect generate a new point, and by iterating this process for each pair of points formed, we generate a subset of the complex plane. We extend previously known results about the algebraic and geometric structure of these sets to higher dimensions. In the case when the set obtained is a lattice, we explore the relationship between the set of angles and the generators of the lattice and determine how introducing a new angle alters the lattice. (Joint work with Deveena Banerjee and Sara Chari.).

Arithmetic Geometry: From Circles to Circular Counting

Abstract: In this talk, I will show you a glimpse of one of the most exciting facets of research in modern number theory: arithmetic geometry. We will start with a (gentle) introduction to this area of research through some familiar examples. Then we will move on to a not so familiar example where we count solutions of equations mod p. I will end by answering two of the oldest and most mystifying questions in mathematics: how does this work fit into the bigger picture, and who cares?

Rehumanizing Mathematics Department

Abstract: In this talk, I will share some of the work I have been engaging with as chair of the mathematics department at Bates College to rehumanize our program and change departmental norms. In particular, I will share some of the curricular changes at large and smaller levels that we have been working on, some of the challenges, and how we're leveraging a large institutional grant to further this mission. I will also share some of the common struggles within the Science and Math division and beyond, and the transformative potential of collaborating across disciplines.

The mathematician as public intellectual

Abstract: We commonly think of mathematicians primarily as researchers and teachers. This is natural, as these have historically been the aspects of our job that are most prominent. However, previously reclusive mathematicians are starting to develop public personae with recent widespread use of social media (tweets, blogs, facebook posts, op-eds, etc.) and gaining both notoriety and admiration. In this talk, I will highlight some of the social benefits of making public the scholarship of mathematicians the boundaries that some have pushed, the conversations that have been sparked by controversy, my own journey into a life as public mathematician, and some of the backlash that some people have had to endure. In particular, we will explore the question: What are the rights and responsibilities of mathematicians as public intellectuals?

###### Hortensia Soto, Associate Secretary
Email: hortensia.soto@colostate.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2026

Topics include:

Diverse Assessments
Diverse assessments can inform us about students’ understanding of undergraduate mathematics and can shape our teaching. Oral assessments such as classroom presentations and individual student interviews can paint a better picture of students’ conceptions as well as their misconceptions. Reading assignments with structured questions allow students to get a glimpse of new content and their responses can be used to structure the classroom discussion. Perceptuo-motor activities offer opportunities for students to feel, experience, and be the mathematics. In this talk, I will share numerous diverse assessments that I have implemented, the benefits of such assessments, and the challenges in implementing these assessments.
Intentionally Bringing Diversity Awareness into the Classroom
Abstract: We are in an era where we are intentionally trying to address the need to embrace diversity, especially in the STEM disciplines. Initiatives to address this need include hiring faculty of color, inviting speakers of color to national meetings, having mission statements that address diversity, etc. These are all wonderful efforts that support diversity. In my presentation, I discuss the value of identifying with others, looking inward, and reflecting on how our own experiences can be used to support diversity in STEM disciplines. Specifically, I will share my efforts to do this with my history of mathematics students, who are prospective secondary teachers and have an opportunity to influence generations to come.
###### Cindy Wyels, Secretary
CSU Channel Islands
Email: cynthia.wyels@csuci.edu
Available as a speaker: through Spring 2026

Topics coming soon