UW Math Day

Lecture Session Details

Tickets are not required to attend these sessions and rooms are subject to capacity.

WELCOME & PLENARY  – 9:00 – 10:00 am

Welcome: Suzanne Hawley, Professor, Astronomy, UW & Divisional Dean of Sciences for the College of Arts and Sciences

Plenary Address: Steve Klee, Assistant Professor. Mathematics, Seattle U

My phone knew that I meant “pancakes” when I typed “osbcajes” while I was walking home from the store the other day.  Last week on the way to a dinner party, my phone asked if we were going to have a full meal or just “horse doves” because I was planning to “shoe up hungry.”  How is it possible that my phone can so clearly know what I mean sometimes and be so far off at other times?

SESSION I – 10:15 – 10:55 am

Daniel Finkel, Founder & Director of Operations, Math for Love

Title: Billiard Balls and Laser Beams
Imagine lighting a candle in a room made entirely of mirrors. Would the entire room light up, or would parts of it remain in darkness? To find the answer, we’ll need to explore the fascinating world of reflective geometry. Come take a tour that includes solar power, ships set on fire, juggling, elliptical billiard, eavesdropping at a distance, and unsolved problems.

Sara Billey, Professor, Mathematics, UW

Title: Bitcoin, Blockchain, and the Boogeyman Behind it
Bogeyman (usually spelled boogeyman in the U.S.; also spelled bogieman or boogie man; see American and British English spelling differences), pronounced /bʊɡimæn/ or /boʊɡimæn/,[1] is a common allusion to a mythical creature in many cultures used by adults to frighten children into good behavior. This monster has no specific appearance, and conceptions about it can vary drastically from household to household within the same community; in many cases, he has no set appearance in the mind of an adult or child, but is simply a non-specific embodiment of terror. Parents may tell their children that if they misbehave, the bogeyman will get them. Bogeymen may target a specific mischief—for instance, a bogeyman that punishes children who suck their thumbs—or general misbehaviour, depending on what purpose needs serving. In some cases, the bogeyman is a nickname for the Devil. Bogeyman tales vary by region. The bogeyman is usually a masculine entity, but can be any gender, or simply be androgynous.

Kristin DeVleming,  Graduate Student, Mathematics, UW

Title: Donuts and Coffee Cups (and other Mathematical Surfaces)
You’re probably familiar with surface as an English word, but mathematically, what does it mean?  Is a surface a thing?  Does it have to be the surface of something?  Does it have to have a certain number of edges or sides?  We’ll explore a field of mathematics known as topology while answering these questions with lots of examples.  We’ll even address the classic donut = coffee cup problem and try to turn a sphere inside out.  We’ll scratch the surface of surfaces and learn some things along the way.

Andrew Berget, Assistant Professor, Department of Mathematics, WWU

Title: Really, There’s New Math?
A common refrain when someone first meets a mathematician is, “really, there is new math?” Indeed, there are many things mathematicians do not fully understand within mathematics, and every day small steps are made towards greater understanding. Every once in a while a great leap forward is made. In this talk I will give some interesting and accessible examples of old, new, and unknown areas of mathematics.

Jennifer McLoud-Mann, Professor & Chair, Division of Engineering and Mathematics, UW Bothell

Title: Perplexing Simple Stated Problems?
Childhood fascinations and adult curiosities prompt mathematicians and non-mathematicians to tinker with the some of the most perplexing simply stated mathematics problems. This talk will focus on some stories surrounding such problems and will likely generate a spark in you to contribute to the beautiful world of mathematics.

Panel Discussion: Undergraduate Life at UW

Undergraduates will discuss courses, activities, and answer questions.

SESSION II – 11:15 – 11:55 am

Monty McGovern, Professor, Mathematics, UW

Title: The Wonderful World of Graphs: What do soccer schedules and coloring maps have in common?
The answer is graphs, not the ones of functions that you know and love, but rather sets of points in the plane, some pairs of them connected by edges.  I will sketch some of the many applications of these remarkable objects, ranging from cartography to matchmaking to social networks.

Jonah Ostroff,  Lecturer, Mathematics, UW

Title: How to Be Extremely Good at Dots and Boxes
Dots and Boxes is a pencil-and-paper game that you may have played before: draw a square array of dots, take turns drawing lines between them, and try to complete more boxes than your opponent. The rules are quite simple, but the math is remarkably complicated! We’ll learn a few layers of strategy you can use to astound and humiliate your friends, and then discuss how variations in the rules can affect this strategy.

Sam Burden, Assistant Professor, Electrical Engineering, UW

Title: Humans and Robots
Humans excel where robots fail:  people effortlessly traverse tricky terrain and distinguish photos of dogs and ostriches, whereas their robot counterparts routinely fail at both tasks.  Interestingly, the opposite is true as well:  robots communicate, compute, and construct with inhuman precision and productivity.  In this talk we’ll shed some light on the mathematics underlying this disparity in ability, and discuss the potential for humans and robots to team up and accomplish more together than either can alone.

Allison Henrich, Associate Professor, Mathematics, Seattle University

Title: It’s all Fun and Games Until Somebody Becomes a Mathematician!
“PLAY is something we all have a desire to engage in—it is a key aspect of human flourishing. For mathematicians, play is perhaps even more important because is essential for building mathematical intuition. The world of knots in the mathematical field of topology provides many great examples to help us understand this connection. In this talk, we will see how the theory of knots can reveal the “magic” behind rope tricks while exciting us to learn more.

Adam Kapilow, Graduate Student, Mathematics, UW

Keep it up: How to Juggle Numbers
In this talk we’ll explore the mathematics of juggling, described by some as finding the hardest way possible to do the unnecessary. Over the past few decades jugglers has inspired new and interesting mathematics. On the flip side, jugglers have used math to discover and learn new patterns. In this talk we’ll take a first look at this connection by exploring siteswap notation, a way to represent juggling patterns with numbers.


SESSION III – 1:20 – 2:00 pm

Amos Turchet, Acting Assistant Professor

Title: Never-ending Fractions, Herds of Cattle, Riddles and Criptography: a Tale by Diophantus
In ancient times it wasn’t uncommon for mathematicians to challenge each other: in the 17th century it was re-discovered a challenge that Archimedes proposed to Erathostenes regarding a counting cattle. Archimedes might have cheated a bit, since a full solution of the problem was not found till computers were available! Surprisingly the problem is related to approximations of square roots, that in turn are related to never-ending fractions! I’ll show you how riddles, triangular numbers, and encrypted messages fit together in this story that, not so surprisingly, began in Ancient Greece.

Wing L. Mui, Chair, The Overlake School

Title: Sharing Cakes With No Headaches
When two or more people all want a piece of a cake, how can we make sure that nobody leaves unsatisfied? Is it even possible for everybody to be happy? After all, when it comes to sharing cake (or any other thing that needs sharing) people can get pretty picky and hard to satisfy. It turns out that there’s a cool theorem that says that it’s always possible to cut a cake in a way that leaves everyone wanting cake somewhat happy, and in order to prove this theorem we have to go explore a mysterious cave full of trapdoors and false walls. It’s going to be an adventure!

Jonathan Beardsley,  Professor, Mathematics, UW

Title: Symmetry, Topology and the Nobel Prize
Several physicists, including one from UW, recently won the Nobel Prize in Physics for their study of the mysteriously named “topological phases of matter.” In this talk, I’ll describe how the usual phases of matter we’re familiar with, like gas, liquid and solid, are related to the amount of symmetry in a material. When the temperature gets low enough, many new kind of symmetries arise that we don’t see in everyday life, and these lead to so-called topological phases. I’ll give a gentle introduction to the main ideas of topology and describe how a number called the “genus” of a surface (which is really just how many holes it has!) controls the possible.

Information Session: UW Admissions

Hear from a UW Admissions representative about the ins and outs of the UW Admissions process.

Ioana Dumitriu, Professor, Mathematics, UW

How to Catch a Liar: from Games to Coding Theory

We all love playing games and asking questions. But can you trust the friend who answers? And if you can’t trust them, can you figure out the truth anyway? The answer to this last question turns out to be “yes”, at least in a mathematical setting called “liar games”. We’ll explore a bit, play around, and learn some connections to coding theory.