FALL 1997 FORTY-SIXTH SERIES
Lecture at 4:00 PM in Darwin 108, Coffee in Darwin 108 Foyer at 3:40 PM
FEBRUARY 5 A GALLERY OF GEOMETRIC GEMS
Jean Bee Chan, Mathematics, Sonoma State University, will take the audience on an illustrated tour of interesting results from the ancient arts of plane geometry.
FEBRUARY 12 TOPOLOGICAL AUTOMORPHISM GROUPS
Sergei Ovchinnikov, Mathematics, San Francisco State University, will present the topological properties of permutation groups. He will show that various classical topologies are equivalent in this case and establish a relation between connectedness properties of chains and their automorphism groups. Various compactness criteria will also be introduced, followed by a discussion of applications to abstract system and measurement theory.
FEBRUARY 19 3-D COMPUTER GAMES -- A NEW DIMENSION
Scott Anderson, SSU alumnus and LEGO Project Producer, Mindscape, Novato, will discuss the issues involved in adding another dimension to computer games. 3-D pushes personal computers to the max, and brings a slew of new problems. In this talk, the speaker will present some of the creative solutions to the challenges of bringing a 3-D world to life on the screen.
FEBRUARY 26 STATISTICAL EVIDENCE FOR EXTRASENSORY PERCEPTION
Jessica Utts, Statistics, University of California at Davis, was one of two experts the US Congress asked to evaluate 24 years of government-sponsored research on psychic phenomena. In her report, released by the government in November 1995, she concluded that the evidence for psychic functioning was strong enough that if it were in a "normal" area of science, the results would be considered conclusive. She will describe the experiments and results, as well as the broader question of how conclusions are reached in sciences that rely on statistics. No prior knowledge of statistics will be assumed.
MARCH 5 MAKING DECISIONS UNDER UNCERTAINTY: THE THUMBTACK PROBLEM
Kevin Christian, Applied Decision Analysis, Menlo Park, will focus on quantitative techniques for making intelligent decisions in an uncertain environment. Several ideas from an area of operations research called decisions analysis will be introduced, including decision trees, subjective probability, and value of information. $20 will be won by an audience member (yes, it could be you) who correctly guesses whether a flipped thumbtack will land point up or point down.
MARCH 12 PRINCIPAL COMPONENTS ANALYSIS AND THE MAJOR LEAGUE MVP
James Robinson, a senior undergraduate in Mathematics, Sonoma State University, will use an advanced multivariate statistical technique known as principal components analysis to try to rank major league baseball's Most Valuable Player Award recipients from the first players to receive the award until the present.
MARCH 19 THE PYTHAGOREAN PROPOSITION AND THE ENDURING BEAUTY OF MATHEMATICS
John Martin, Mathematics, Santa Rosa Junior College, will explore the history of the theorem and the beauty that it reveals. Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) once said, "The Pythagorean Theorem is as dazzlingly beautiful now as it was the day when Pythagoras first discovered it."
MARCH 26 MATHEMATICAL WEB SITES Mary Anne Sobieraj and Jeff Silverman, Mathematics, Sonoma State University, will discuss some fascinating web sites which are wholly devoted to mathematical topics (such as statistics, the Pythagorean Theorem, the TI-85, etc.), and will explain how to access and use them.
APRIL 2 CLOSED FOR SPRING BREAK
APRIL 9 NUMBER THEORY IN PRE-COLUMBIAN MESO-AMERICA Rick Luttmann, Mathematics, Sonoma State University, will present some material from his course in Ethnomathematics on the Mayan calendar. Due to the penchant of the Mayans for running parallel cycles of different orders, many challenging number-theoretic problems come up in reading their calendrical inscriptions.
APRIL 16 SIMPLE GROWTH RULES ON THE INTEGER GRID Janko Gravner, Mathematics, University of California at Davis, will examine a simple iterative rule that is a source of many interesting problems, some yet unsolved: Start with a set of occupied points on the integer grid. Add all points which have at least a specified number of already occupied points in their neighborhoods. Then iterate. Related growth rules, some with quite complex behavior, will also be introduced.
APRIL 23 THE STORY OF PI MATH FESTIVAL Don Chakerian, Mathematics (Emeritus), University of California at Davis, will give a historical overview of the approximations of , with an emphasis on the work of the Indian genius Srinivasa Ramanujan and his influence on some recent calculations of to several billion decimal places.
APRIL 30 EULER'S RELATION IN N-DIMENSIONS Kevin Callahan, Mathematics, CSU Hayward, will examine the combinatorial relationship between faces, edges, and vertices in a convex polytope. This is your chance to see an inductive proof of Euler's Relation in n-dimensions. Find out why the alternating sum of faces, edges, and vertices is 2.
MAY 7 MY RELIGION OF MATHEMATICS Paul Halmos, Mathematics, Santa Clara University, will discuss questions such as the following and offer some possible views on their answers: Is mathematics true? Is mathematics useful? Is mathematics consistent? Is infinite regress bad? Is research in mathematics still possible? Are there any major unsolved problems in mathematics?
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