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Invited Addresses

The following list of MAA MathFest 2019 Invited Address Speakers is updated as information becomes available. Please continue checking here in the weeks ahead for further information, details, and updates.

Earle Raymond Hedrick Lecture Series

Complex Dynamics and Elliptic Curves

Laura DeMarco, Northwestern University


In a series of three talks, I will present connections between recent research in dynamical systems and the classical theory of elliptic curves and rational points. On the dynamical side -- specifically in the study of iteration of rational functions (Julia sets, bifurcations, the Mandelbrot set) -- the first connections were observed about 100 years ago. On the arithmetic side, it was probably the 1960s when dynamical ideas were first used as tools to understand the arithmetic geometry of elliptic curves and higher-dimensional varieties. My goal is to provide an overview of how these relationships developed and where they have brought us today. The three lectures will be independent.


AMS-MAA Joint Invited Address

Éva Tardos, Cornell University

Abstract TBA


MAA Invited Address

Ami Radunskaya, Pomona College

Abstract TBA


MAA Invited Address

A Vision of Multivariable Calculus

Robert Ghrist, University of Pennsylvania


This talk will address certain challenges in teaching multivariable calculus. Classical texts emphasize calculus in dimensions two or three, based on 19th and 20th century applications to physics. At present, many of our students are more motivated by data and systems in higher dimensions. How can a calculus course best adapt to these needs, without overwhelming students (or professors)? This talk will outline a plan for increasing both the dimension and sophistication of multivariable calculus instruction with the use of video. Topics covered will include the use of visualization, matrix algebra, and differential forms.


Robert Ghrist is the Andrea Mitchell University Professor of Mathematics and Electrical & Systems Engineering at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a recognized leader in the field of applied algebraic topology, with awards including the NSF CAREER, NSF PECASE, SciAm50, and Vannevar Bush Faculty Fellowship. He is a recipient of the Chauvenet Prize, the highest award given for mathematical expository writing. He is also a dedicated communicator of Mathematics, with teaching awards that include the MAA James Crawford Prize, Penn's Lindback Award, and the S. Reid Warren award in Engineering at Penn.


MAA Invited Address

Solving Algebraic Equations

Irena Swanson, Reed College


Abel and Ruffini, and later Galois showed that general polynomials of degree five or higher are not solvable with the usual arithmetic operations. Nevertheless, algebra offers powerful methods for solving many equations and for determining the structure of solutions even when the solutions themselves cannot be found. In this talk I will cover some classical and more recent methods, including Hilbert's Nullstellensatz and Gr\"obner bases. A running theme will be computational complexity, and the talk will end with more recent results in commutative algebra.


MAA James R.C. Leitzel Lecture

Rochelle Gutiérrez, University of Illinois

Abstract TBA


AWM-MAA Etta Zuber Falconer Lecture

Dance of the Astonished Topologist ... or How I Left Squares and Hexes for Math

Tara Holm, Cornell University


Topology is often called ``rubber sheet geometry" and is described as ``floppy" while geometry is more ``rigid". Symplectic geometry, the natural geometry of classical mechanics, is floppier than Riemannian geometry but more rigid than topology. I will give a friendly introduction to some geometric and algebraic techniques in topology, proving along the way that a topologist can turn her trousers inside out without taking them off. I will then give an overview of the floppy/rigid spectrum, motivated by many pictures and examples. I will conclude with a description how covering spaces have been useful in my own work in symplectic geometry, and how they can make square dancing more challenging.


Tara Holm is a Professor of Mathematics at Cornell University. She was an undergraduate at Dartmouth College, studied in Budapest through the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics, and earned a PhD at MIT. She serves on the Board of Governors of Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics and is the President/CEO of Pro Mathematica Arte, the non-profit corporation which runs the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics and the Budapest Semesters in Mathematics Education.

Holm is an expert in symplectic geometry, the mathematical framework for classical and quantum mechanics. Her research has been supported by the National Science Foundation, the Association for Women in Mathematics, and the Simons Foundation. In 2012, Holm was named a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. She has served as an Oliver Smithies Lecturer and Visiting Fellow at Balliol College, Oxford, and a von Neumann Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton. She will be a Fellow at Clare Hall, Cambridge, in 2019-2020.


MAA Chan Stanek Lecture for Students

Secrets of Grad School Success

Mohamed Omar, Harvey Mudd College


Around this time of year many rising seniors and even rising juniors are wondering what to do after college, and many contemplate the idea of going to graduate school. Naturally, they seek advice from peers, professors at their college and the internet. In this talk, we'll give some pretty unconventional advice based on the speakers experiences through the same process.


Martin Gardner Lecture

Erik Demaine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Abstract TBA


Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Alice in Numberland --- Adventures in Cryptography, Number Theory, and Life

Alice Silverberg, University of California, Irvine


I will give an account of some of my adventures in the wonderlands of mathematics and cryptography, offering some food for thought on how mathematics can be useful in cryptography, and mentioning some useful things I learned along the way that I wish I had learned sooner.


Alice Silverberg is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Mathematics at the University of California, Irvine, with an additional appointment in Computer Science. Her research areas are cryptography and number theory. She earned her undergrad degree summa cum laude from Harvard University, a Masters degree and PhD from Princeton University, and a Master of Advanced Study degree from the University of Cambridge. She was also a Professor at the Ohio State University, and has held visiting positions at industrial labs and international research centers.

Silverberg is an inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and a Fellow of the Association for Women in Mathematics, and has been awarded Humboldt, Bunting, Sloan, IBM, and NSF Fellowships. She has given over 300 invited lectures, has consulted for film and television, writes about Alice's Adventures in Numberland (at, and occasionally writes mathematically-inspired Scottish country dances.


NAM David Harold Blackwell Lecture

Dudeney's No Three-In-Line Problem: Problem, Solutions, Conditions, Progress, and Conjectures

Johnny L. Houston, Elizabeth City State University


In 1917, Henry Dudeney, an Englishman who had done some intriguing things with mathematical puzzles and games, posed an interesting question for persons interested in discrete geometry. Let an n x n grid be given in the Euclidean plane for any natural number n, what is the maximum number of points that can be identified in the grid so that no three of these points are in the same line (no 3 colinear). For various natural numbers n, solutions have been discovered and certain conditions have been encountered.

The presenter discusses many of these solutions and conditions. For large natural numbers n, even for some n < 60, progress (or lack of progress) is being made slowly. By the Pigeon Hole Principle, the maximum number of such points that can exist is 2n. The problem of finding for which n this value is reached is known as the No-Three-In-Line Problem. Several conjectures exist. These conjectures and their motivations are discussed as well as some related problems. However, the No-Three-In-Line Problem is still an open problem.

The year 2019 is the centennial year of the honoree for which this lecture was named. The presenter will also discuss the life and contributions of David H. Blackwell.