Geneseo Mathematics Colloquium Schedule

Fall 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2:45-3:35pm
Newton 204
Kyriakos Petakos, School of Tourism Education of Rhodes, Greece

Learning Mathematics in a Language Not Your Own

I have interviewed a first year college student from the Albanian minority that abounds in Greece to see how learning mathematics in a new language progresses along with learning to live in a new social environment. My aim was to investigate how his native language intertwined with the new language through which he was trying understand fundamental mathematical concepts. In my talk I will also talk about the effect of culture on learning in general.

Wednesday, September 23, 2:45-3:35pm
Newton 204
Aleksey Polunchenko, SUNY Binghamton

Suspect something fishy? How statistics can help detect it, quickly!

Suppose you are gambling at a casino in a game where you and a dealer take turns rolling a die. Suppose next that the die is initially fair, that is, each of its six faces has the same probability of showing up. However, at some point during the course of the game the evil dealer – without you seeing – replaces the die with an unbalanced one, and so from that point on the die’s faces are no longer equally probable. Yet as the new die looks exactly the same as the old fair one, you continue to gamble without suspecting anything. The natural question is: as the game progresses, can you somehow “detect” that the die has been tampered with?

Statistics is a branch of mathematics concerned with rational decision-making among uncertainty. We will see how such a question-- a gamble on its own—is approached with statistical techniques. Specifically, the talk will focus on the so-called quickest change-point detection problem, stats on the go!

Thursday, October 15, 4:00-4:50pm
Newton 202
Elizabeth Wilcox, SUNY Oswego

The Group Menagerie

Mathematicians are known for recycling language -- using familiar words to mean wild ideas seemingly with no resemblance to the original words!  The word "group" is one such word ... What IS a mathematical group? Allow me to introduce you to some of the exotic and wild members of the Group Menagerie.  No background in Abstract Algebra is assumed, and the audience may feel free to poke, prod, pet, and even bring home the creatures discussed.

Wednesday, October 21, 2:45-3:35pm
Newton 204
Jacob Goldberg, SUNY Geneseo PRISM

A(re U) Planning for Next Summer?

The NSF funds several Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs across the country each year. SUNY Geneseo has sent multiple students to participate in REU’s in the past, and we hope to continue this trend! This talk will cover one of the REU projects at NC State this past summer, as well as the REU application process in general.

Modeling Cardiovascular Dynamics during Blood Withdrawal 

The body continuously regulates itself to maintain blood pressure at homeostasis, which prevents fainting or light-headedness during everyday activities. This REU project aims at understanding how system properties are controlled during blood withdrawal by utilizing a mathematical model and experimental data to predict cardiovascular dynamics.


Thursday, October 29, 4:00-4:50pm
Newton 202
John Ringland, University of Buffalo

Perpetual pest control in the face of resistance evolution?

Antibiotics and pesticides tend to become ineffective over time, as their heavy use naturally leads to the predominance of resistant variants in the target populations. It may seem that we are inevitably forced into a never-ending cycle of developing new control agents and soon discarding them, but I will describe and explain a technique for using a pesticide that can preserve its effectiveness indefinitely, despite the presence of resistant variants in the population. The technique can work for controlling insects but not bacteria, because it relies on nonlinearities in the dynamics of sexually reproducing organisms.

Wednesday, November 4, 2:45-3:35pm
Newton 204
Mike Bennett, Rochester Institute of Technology (SUNY Geneseo, Class of 2009)

The Single Distance Problem

We'll say that two points P1 and P2 in the plane are a unit pair if the distance between them is exactly 1. The following is an unsolved problem in combinatorial geometry:

If you have n points in the plane, what is the maximum number of unit pairs possible?

We will discuss what we know about this problem so far and find some interesting point configurations with lots of unit pairs. To follow up, we will investigate an unsolved problem in graph theory in which we want to "color" the whole plane!

Thursday, November 12, 3:30-4:20pm
Newton 212
Jenna Zomback, SUNY Geneseo PRISM

A(re U) Planning for Next Summer?

The NSF funds several Research Experience for Undergraduate (REU) programs across the country each year. SUNY Geneseo has sent multiple students to participate in REU’s in the past, and we hope to continue this trend! This talk will cover one of the REU projects at University of Hawaii at Hilo this past summer.

Monotone Catenary Degree In Numerical Monoids 

Recent investigations on the catenary degrees of numerical monoids have demonstrated that this invariant is a powerful tool in understanding the factorization theory of this class of monoids. Although useful, the catenary degree is largely not sensitive to the lengths of factorizations of an element. In this talk, we study the monotone catenary degree of numerical monoids, which is a variant of catenary degree that requires chains run through factorization lengths monotonically. In general, the monotone catenary is greater than or equal to the catenary degree. We begin by providing an important class of monoids (arithmetical numerical monoids) for which monotone catenary degree is equal to the catenary degree. Conversely, we provide several classes of embedding dimension 3 numerical monoids where monotone catenary degree is strictly greater. We conclude by showing that this difference can grow arbitrarily large.


Friday, November 13, 4:00pm
Newton 203
Tom Cooney, SUNY Geneseo

Quantum Game Theory

A referee asks Alice and Bob questions x and y chosen from the set {0,1} with each choice being equally likely. Without talking to each other or knowing what question the other person received, Alice and Bob respond with answers a and b chosen from the set {0,1}. If xy=0, Alice and Bob win if they give the same answer. If xy=1, they win if they give different answers.

What strategy can they agree on in advance that will give them the best chance of winning? What are quantum resources and how can they help the players in this and other games?

Wednesday, November 18, 2:30-3:45
Newton 204
Gary Towsley and Jeff Johannes, SUNY Geneseo

A Concise History of Calculus

A lively overview of over two thousand years of calculus history. Not only who-did-what along the way, but the cultural and sociological causes and effects of the calculus. Strongly recommended for anyone who has taken or is taking calculus.

Wednesday, Dec 2, 2:45-3:35
Newton 204
John Reynolds, University of Kansas (SUNY Geneseo, Class of 2010)