Mathematics
Contact
Department Chair:
Elizabeth Wilmer

Department Email:


Phone: (440) 775-6707
Fax: (440) 775-6638

Location:
10 N. Professor St/King 205

Oberlin, OH, 44074

Spring 2012

Spring 2012
 

February 9 -- Student/Faculty Pizza Luncheon
"TBA"
12:15 in Wilder 115

 



February 20 -- Tamura Lilly Lecture Series
"The 4th Dimension and Salvador Dali"
Thomas Banchoff -- Professor of Mathematics, Brown University
7:30 pm -- Craig Auditorium

Over his long career, Salvador Dali drew inspiration from his contact with scientist and mathematicians for the subjects he treated in his paintings. An unfolded four-dimensional cube is the central figure in his 1954 painting "Corpus Hypercubicus" and several of his last paintings feature images from Rene Thom's catastrophe theory. This talk will describe a dozen meetings with the artist from 1975 to 1985, with insights into why Dali chose these geometric objects and how he constructed his paintings. The presentation will include computer generated images and animations, as well as excerpts from the 2004 documentary "The Dali Dimension".

 


 

March 8 -- Student/Faculty Pizza Luncheon
"The Archimedes Palimpsest"
Matthew Gardner Spencer -- Department of Mathematics
12:15 in King 203

In 1998, Christie's auctions house listed for sale an old, moldy, beat up prayer book.  The book sold for $2,000,000, not because of the prayers, but for what was written underneath them: A copy of "Archimedes' Method," a text long thought lost forever.  We'll follow two trails.  We'll follow the historical path of this remarkable document from its birth in the 800s, and we'll also follow along with Archimedes as he uses an ingenious argument to compute the area under a parabola.

 


 

March 15 -- Distinguished Visitor Lecture
Game Theory and the Humanities
Steven Brams -- New York University
7:30 pm -- Craig Auditorium

Game theory models are ubiquitous in economics, common in political science, and more and more
used in psychology and sociology.  In evolutionary biology, they offer compelling explanations of
competition in nature.  But game theory has only sporadically been applied to the humanities. 
Indeed, we almost never associate mathematical calculations of strategic choice with the worlds
of literature, history, philosophy, religion, or law.
 
But game theory can illuminate wrenching choices, including those fueled by such emotions as
anger, jealousy, or love.  These will be illustrated by some of the following: Abraham's decision
to offer his son, Isaac, for sacrifice when God commanded him to do so; a game, related to
Pascal's wager, between God's choosing to reveal or not reveal Himself, and a person's choosing
to believe or not in His existence; difficult and sometimes murderous choices of characters in
Aristophanes's *Lysyistrata* and Shakespeare's *Hamlet* and *Macbeth*, as well as in modern
fiction, such as Joseph Heller's *Catch-22*; and historical choices by the Supreme Court,
presidents, and other leaders, especially in crises and wars.

 


April 3 --  Lecture
"Alan Turing on the Centennial of his Birth"
Bob Milnikel -- Kenyon College
4:30 pm -- King 239

The worlds of mathematics and computer science are celebrating the Alan Turing Year in
honor of the centennial of his birth with over 100 conferences, exhibits, and so forth. Who
was Turing and why is his work considered so revolutionary and fundamental? While we can
only scratch the surface in an hour, I will attempt to place a few of Turing's most important
achievements in some historical context. I will sketch a couple of proofs, but no specific
mathematical background will be assumed.

 


 

April 19 -- Student/Faculty Pizza Luncheon
"TBA"
Michael Henle
12:15 in Wilder 112

 


April 19 -- Lecture
"Are you normal?  And does it matter?"
Chris Leary -- Professor of Mathematics
SUNY, College at Geneseo
4:30 PM in King 239

The assumption that some parameter or other is normally distributed is easy to make, rarely true,
and sometimes misleading.  This talk examines a couple of examples in epidemiological models
where the assumption of normality may lead to misleading conclusions.
The standard Susceptible/Infectious/Recovered differential equation model of infectious disease
spread assumes that the rate at which individuals move from the infectious class into the recovered
class isconstant.  This implies that the amount of time any given individual is infectious is
exponentially distributed, rather than normally distributed.  We will look at some simulation results
with different assumptions about time individuals spend in the infectious class and see whether
those assumptions make a difference. We will then discuss James Lloyd-Smith's paper "Superspreading
and the effect of individual variation on disease emergence" (Nature, Nov 2005) and his result that
changes in the distribution of individual R0's leads to vastly different expectations about the
emergence of epidemics.

 


 

May 10 -- Student/Faculty Pizza Luncheon
"TBA"
12:15 in Wilder 115