Smith students recognized in Amstat News for DataFest
Several Smith students were featured in a recent article about DataFest published in the Amstat News. The inaugural Five College DataFest took place at UMass in late March. The article describes how DataFest has spread to multiple locations across the country in 2014.
Evelyn Boyd Granville turns 90!
Evelyn Boyd Granville '45, the second African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in mathematics, turned 90 on May 1, 2014. Scientific American followed with a nice article about her life in mathematics.
Mary Murphy Named as Winner of Sherrerd Teaching Award
Mary Murphy, senior lecturer of mathematics and statistics, was named recently as a winner of the 2014 Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prizes for Distinguished Teaching. Each year, Smith students, faculty and alumnae submit nominations for the Sherrerd teaching prize, which recognizes the distinguished teaching records and demonstrated enthusiasm and excellence of Smith faculty members. It has become a symbol of the value, commitment and dedication Smith places on superior pedagogy.
This year’s recipients will be formally recognized at the Sherrerd teaching prize ceremony and reception on October 16, 2014, which is open to the Smith community.
New School Record Set in Putnam Competition
The scores from the 2013 Putnam Competition are in, and Smith's team, organized by Rajan Mehta, had a record-high ranking of 66 out of 557 competing schools. The Putnam is notoriously hard -- half of the students that take the exam get a score of zero. At Smith, out of eight students taking the exam, six earned positive scores. Four students (Vera Bao '17, Helen He '16, Emily Li '17, and Yijin Wei '16) ranked in the top 1000 out of more than 4000 competitors. Our highest performer, Yijin Wei, ranked in the top 15%.
Five Math Majors win Best in Show at 2014 Five College DataFest
11 students from Smith, including two entire teams of five students, competed for prizes in the inaugural Five College DataFest held at UMass over the weekend of March 28-30th. DataFest is a nationally-coordinated data analysis competition for undergraduates that has grown from one site to five in just four years. This first edition of the Five College event, which was sponsored in part by the department, featured over 60 students representing each of the Five Colleges. Three of the nine teams that finished the competition contained Smithies, including two teams comprised mostly or entirely of math majors:
- The Unpredictables: Elizabeth Atkins '15, Carmen Augusto '16, Yadira Flores '15, Ji Ah Lee '14, and Shreeya Rajanarayanan '14
- P-Valuables: Deirdre Fitzpatrick '14, Michele Handy '15, Maja Milosavljevic '14, Sara Stoudt '15, and Dana Udwin '14
After a careful deliberation from the judges, the P-Valuables brought home the Best in Show prize.
Student Work Featured at Celebrating Collaborations
A number of math students and faculty will have their work showcased at Celebrating Collaborations, which will take place on Saturday, April 12, 2014.
The morning Science Poster session contains several math and statistics related projects:
- Yidan Jin ’15 52 Modeling and Principal Component Analysis of Snail Shape science poster session deriving from special studies with Christophe Golé, professor of mathematics and statistics, and L. David Smith, professor of biological sciences
- Nicole Sonnert MHC ’14, Elizabeth Sumner ’14, Jessica Hopson ’14 and Yidan Jin ’15 53 Population Dynamics and Size Scaling Interactions of Carcinus maenas and Littorina obtusata in Northern Maine science poster session deriving from Five College Biomathematics Consortium with L. David Smith, professor of biological sciences, and Christophe Golé, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Jessica Hopson ’14, Yidan Jin ’15, Nicole Sonnert MHC ’14 and Elizabeth Sumner ’14 54 A Snail’s Defense: Reducing Shell Vulnerability Through Phenotypic Plasticity science poster session deriving from concentration project with L. David Smith, professor of biological sciences, and Christophe Golé, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Yu Jin ’14, Nicole Sonnert MHC ’14 and Elizabeth Sumner ’14 55 Population Dynamics of an Arms Race: Carcinus maenas and Littorina obtusata in Northern Maine science poster session deriving from concentration project with Christophe Golé, professor of mathematics and statistics and L. David Smith, professor of biological sciences
- Jamie Cyr ’16 and Ria Deshpande ’16 56 Modeling Actin Regulation in Cancer Cells science poster session deriving from special studies with Nessy Tania, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
- Yu Jin ’14, Maja Milosavljevic ’14 and Sara Stoudt ’15 57 Mathematical Contest in Modeling: An Objective Ranking of Best College Sports Coaches of All Time science poster session deriving from entry for Mathematical Contest in Modeling with Nessy Tania, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
- Ji Ah Lee ’14 58 Analyzing the Distribution of Interspike Intervals of Hair Cells in Zebrafish science poster session deriving from special studies with Nessy Tania, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics; Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics; and Josef Trapani, Amherst College assistant professor of biology
- Ana Sofia Moreno-Mesa ’16 59 Statistics and the Smithie: Factors Influencing a Student’s Choice of an Introductory Statistics Course science poster session deriving from STRIDE research with Andrew Bray, visiting assistant professor of statistics
- Brittany Claiborne ’16 60 Rainbow Dominating Sets in Graphs science poster session deriving from STRIDE research with Ruth Haas, Achilles Professor of Mathematics and Statistics and professor of engineering
- Loren Santana ’14 and Sara Stoudt ’15 61 The Perfect Bracket: Machine Learning in NCAA Basketball science poster session deriving from classwork with Benjamin Baumer, visiting assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
- Chloe Huayue Xie ’14 62 Splines science poster session deriving from an independent research project with Julianna Tymoczko, assistant professor of mathematics and statistics
- Ellena Baum ’14, Alicia Bowling ’17, Hanna Mogensen ’14 and Anna Sofia Moreno-Mesa ’16 79 Fungal Communities in Primary and Secondary Growth Forests science poster session deriving from classwork with Jesse Bellemare, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Emily Wald ’15, Tori Wolf ’16 and Grace Abrahams-Dematte HC ’15 80 Effects of Environmental Factors on Lichens at the MacLeish Field Station science poster session deriving from classwork with Jesse Bellemare, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Greylin Nielsen ’14, Olivia Biller HC ’13 and Madison Laetham ’17 81 A Comparison of Invertebrate Herbivore Damage across American Chestnut, Chinese Chestnut and Blight-Resistant Hybrids: Implications for Reintroduction and Restoration science poster session deriving from classwork with Jesse Bellemare, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Emily Anderson ’14, Claire Shope ’16 and Michaela Rohde ’17 82 Spatial and Temporal Patterns of Porcupine (Erethizon dorsatum) Feeding on Trees at MacLeish Field Station science poster session deriving from classwork with Jesse Bellemare, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics
- Karen Yu ’16, Chiu Yu Lau ’16 and Michelle Jackson ’15 83 Effects of Exotic Earthworms on Plant Diaspore Germination From Organic Soil Material science poster session deriving from classwork with Jesse Bellemare, assistant professor of biological sciences, and Katherine Halvorsen, professor of mathematics and statistics
During the afternoon concurrent sessions, an entire session is devoted to:
Insights Through Math, Statistics and Logic: Seelye 206
- Sara Stoudt ’15 and Dana Udwin ’14 Social Media: Changing the Way We Talk About the Weather Presentation deriving from classwork with Benjamin Baumer, visiting assistant professor in mathematics and statistics
- Maja Milosavljevic ’14 and Jordan Menter ’16 The Smathie World Presentation deriving from classwork with Benjamin Baumer, visiting assistant professor in mathematics and statistics
- Yu Jin ’14 Attack and Defense Game Between Crabs and Snails: Mathematical Insights Presentation deriving from thesis with Christophe Golé, professor of mathematics and statistics
Structure and Movement: Seelye 211
- Erin Linebarger GS, Maja Milosavljevic ’14, Jennifer Tripp GS and Cloie Webster GS Bouncing Balls in Ells Presentations deriving from classwork with James Henle, Myra M. Sampson Professor of Mathematics and Statistics
New Data Science course featured in Alumnae Quarterly
The department's newest course, MTH 292: Data Science, was featured in the Spring 2013 issue of the Smith Alumnae Quarterly. The course, taught by Ben Baumer, develops students' abilities to extract meaningful information from large, messy, complex, and even live data sets. These skills are in high demand, but require a blend of training in mathematics, statistics, and computer science. Sara Stoudt '15, Dana Udwin '14, and Kelly Francis '15 completed a project for the course on people's perceptions of the weather that is featured in the article. For a more complete description of their work, see their presentation at Celebrating Collaborations. A second group project from the course by Maja Milosavljevic '14, post-bac Loren Santana, and Jordan Menter '16, will also be featured in the same session.
- Sara Stoudt ’15 and Dana Udwin ’14
Social Media: Changing the Way We Talk About the Weather
- Maja Milosavljevic ’14 and Jordan Menter ’16
The Smathie World
Atela delivers lecture in "Sunny in the Furance"
In Aki Sasamoto's performance "Sunny in the Furnace," Pau Atela delivers a lecture on catastrophe theory. The performance debuted in Chelsea in early March and features large mathematical objects designed by Atela. Read more in The New York Times.
Department to sponsor upcoming Five College DataFest
We are happy to announce that the Five College DataFest, sponsored in part by the department, will be held the weekend of March 29th and 30th at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. DataFest is a nationally-coordinated competition that challenges undergraduates working in teams of up to five to extract meaningful insights from a rich and complex data set. A number of prizes will be awarded, including: "Best in Show", "Best Visualization", and "Best Use of External Data". Previous DataFests held at UCLA and Duke University have drawn large numbers of students, and we are hoping for a great turnout from the Five Colleges. Please contact Ben Baumer or Andrew Bray for more information.
Henle awarded Robbins Prize at Joint Math Meetings
On Januray 16, 2014, at the Joint Mathematics Meetings held in Baltimore, Jim Henle and his son Frederick shared the David P. Robbins Prize, which is awarded every three years by the Mathematical Association of America for a paper that reports on novel research in algebra, combinatorics, or disceret mathematics, has a significant experimental component, and is on a topic which is broadly accessible.
The text of the Citation is presented below. Please see the Prize Booklet for a fuller description.
Frederick V. Henle and James M. Henle
"Squaring the plane," American Mathematical Monthly, 115 (2008), no. 1, 3–12.
The problem is simple. You are supplied with infinitely many square tiles, but they all have different sizes, in fact there is exactly one n-by-n square for each positive integer n. Your task is to use these squares to tile the plane, no overlaps or gaps allowed, and you must use all of the squares. A traditional tiling uses many congruent copies of the same tile or a few tiles. Now, no two tiles are alike.
Inspired by a paper of William Tutte in 1950 showing that a square can be tiled by finitely many different smaller squares, Solomon Golomb (recent winner of the U.S. National Medal of Science) posed the question in 1975 on whether the plane can be tiled with the integer squares. Shortly after, it was picked up by Martin Gardner in his Scientific American column, and several partial results appeared in the intervening years.
With only meager progress, some began to think such a tiling was not possible. But it is.
This delightful article gives a complete description of a tiling of the plane using one square of each integral side. The argument itself does not bring in any “big guns” to settle the problem; rather it uses “big ingenuity,” which is always prefer- able. As such, the paper is completely accessible to undergraduates. The article closes with a number of intriguing open problems; we hope that this award will help call attention to them.
Students, faculty, and administrators were in attendance to offer their congratulations to Jim and Fred.
A number of students and faculty engaged in other talks at the Joint Meetings:
- Avoiding monochromatic equations in groups.
Ruth Haas, Karen Lovejoy, Loren Santana, Jennifer Tripp, Cloie Webster (1096-05-1288)
- Developing surfaces that are hulls of two circles in space.
Caitlyn Hannum, Christine Hoffman, Katherine Koch, Erin Linebarger, Joseph O'Rourke, Judy Wang (1096-05-1291)
- New work on generalized splines.
Nealy Bowden, Yue Cao, Sarah Hagen, Melanie King, Stephanie Reinders, Julianna Tymoczko (1096-14-1703)
- Conjectures and questions in graph reconfiguration.
Ruth Haas, (1096-05-1292)
- Generalized splines and Schubert calculus.
Julianna S Tymoczko (1096-05-2581)
- Big Data in the Intro Stats Class: Use of the Airline Delays Dataset to Expose Students to a Real-World, Complex Dataset.
Nicholas J. Horton (Amherst College), Benjamin S. Baumer, Hadley Wickham (Rice University and RStudio) (1096-D5-1770)
- openWAR: An Open Source System for Overall Player Performance in Major League Baseball.
Ben S Baumer, Shane T Jensen (The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania), Gregory J Matthews (University of Massachusetts) (1096-G5-1199)
- Families of Plane Cubic Curves with Nine-Pointic Contact at a Point.
Taylor C. Brysiewicz (Northern Illinois University), Leah Balay-Wilson (1096-14-1422)
- Fatou components of Chebyshev-like maps.
Joshua P Bowman (1096-37-1308)
- Projective Dimension of Hypergraphs.
Kuei-Nuan Lin, Paolo Mantero, UC-Riverside (1096-13-1317)
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- Maneka Puligandla and Kelly Zaccheo, Ability of Collaborative Social Networks to Complete A Directed Acyclic Task Graph, Statistics (in collaboration with Jize Zhang and Rallye Shen)
- Leah Balay-Wilson, Jasmine Osorio, Katherine Phillips, Trajectories on Homothety Surfaces, Topology
- Stephanie Reinders, Generalized Splines on Cycles, Algebra and Combinatorics (in colloboration with Madeleine Handschy and Julie Melnick)
- Tenzing Khendu ('13), Qingyang (Rallye) Shen ('13), and Michele Handy ('15)
- Dana Udwin ('14), Shreeya Rajanarayanan ('14), and Zhiting (Helen) He ('16)
- Jize Zhang ('14), Yidan Jin ('15), and Xi Jiang ('16)
- Samantha Oestreicher, 10:30 and 4 in 5B upper level
- sarah-marie belcastro 3, 33B upper level
- Caren Diefenderfer 3, 7A upper level
- Taylor McNeill 10:45, 12 mezzanine
- Josh Bowman 3:45, 14B mezzanine
- Joan Hutchinson and Alice Dean 4:15, 16B mezzanine
- Julianna Tymoczko 4:45, 17A mezzanine
- Paul Baginski 10:30 15A mezzanine
- Megan Sawyer 1:30, 33B upper level
- Kate Meyer, Madeline Handschy, Katey Phillips, Jennifer Sadler 2:30, 13 mezzanine
- Caren Diefenderfer 2:40 7A upper level
- Holly Timme 8:30, 5A upper level
- Kate Brenneman 9, 33C upper level
- Julianna Tymoczko 9, 15A mezzanine
- Ben Baumer 10:40 1A upper level
- Ruth Haas 1-2:20, 1A upper level
- Susan D'Agostino 1, 7A upper level
- Megan Heenehan and Karen Collins 6-7:15, foyer, mezzanine
- Jennifer Koonz 6-7:15, foyer, mezzanine
- Daphne Gold and Maneka Puligandla 1, 8 upper level
- Alexis Sparko and Yu Jin 1:15, 30E upper level
- Tia Lyve and Jasmine Osorio 1:30 8 upper level
- Paul Baginski 1:30, 7B upper level
- Christine Stevens 1:45, 12 mezzanine
- Shalla Hanson and Kelly Zaccheo 2:30, 30E upper level
- Marjorie Senechal 5, 9 upper level
- Mirela Ciperani 5:30, 6F upper level
Tenure-track position in Statistics
The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Smith College invites applications for a tenure-track position in statistics to begin in the fall of 2014. Hiring is at the level of assistant professor. Applicants with several years of experience may be given a shortened probationary period; exceptional candidates may be hired at a higher level, without tenure, with a short probationary period. Candidates must have a Ph.D. in statistics or biostatistics and must provide evidence of excellence in teaching and an active research program. Experience teaching applied and mathematical statistics is required; experience in statistical consulting is strongly preferred.
One of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges and largest women’s college, Smith College has a faculty of outstanding scholars who are also dedicated teachers. Faculty members interact with students in small classes, as advisors, and through student-faculty research projects. Tenure-track faculty members teach two courses each semester and enjoy a generous sabbatical policy. Located in Northampton, MA, Smith is an institutional member of the American Statistical Association and the Five-College Statistics Program, which supports a vibrant statistical community. If you have any questions about the position, please email Katherine Halvorsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Apply online at www.mathjobs.org/jobs with a letter of application, curriculum vitae, description of research, statement of teaching experience and philosophy, and at least three confidential letters of recommendation addressing both teaching and research. Applicants must also apply at https://secure.interfolio.com/apply/21955 but should not submit materials at this location.
Applications will be reviewed as they are received and will be considered until the position is filled, with applications received by November 15th, 2013, guaranteed full consideration. Smith College is an equal opportunity employer encouraging excellence through diversity.
Kathryn Aloisio '13 to present at Joint Statistical Meetings
Recent graduate Kathryn Aloisio '13 will present a SPEED talk at the Joint Statistical Meetings in Montreal, Canada on August 7th. Kate's talk, entitled "Efficient Estimation of Partially Observed Clustered Data Using Multiple Imputation," will be accompanied by a poster and is co-authored by Nicholas Horton.
WiMiN 2013 Conference
The annual Women in Mathematics in New England (WiMiN) conference will take place on Saturday, September 21 at Smith College. The two plenary speakers are Trachette Jackson (University of Michigan) and Susan Loepp (Williams College). The conference also features short talks by students, a panel discussion on being a graduate student. For updated information, check the conference website.
Students give talks at Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference
On April 6th, students and faculty from all over the east coast converged on Williamstown, MA, for the 20th Hudson River Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, hosted by Williams College. A keynote address was offered by Manjul Bhargava of Princeton University. Hundreds of undergradutes gave talks on a wide range of topics touching upon many fields of pure and applied mathematics, and statistics.
Three groups of Smith students who are participating in MTH301, the department's undergraduate research seminar led by Julianna Tymoczko, gave talks:
A picture of the full contingent of attendees, including faculty members Joshua Bowman and Ben Baumer, appears below.
Photo courtesy of Shuang (Vanessa) Wu
Statistics students inducted into national honor society
As commencement nears, a number of Smith College statistics students have been inducted into Mu Sigma Rho, the national honorary society. Inductees during the International Year of Statistics include Kathryn Aloisio, Linh Dinh, Isabela Pal, Qingyang (Rallye) Shen, Haomin Yan, Linnea Yeazel and Zoe Zadworny. Our congratulations to these students for their accomplishments.
Mathematics in Stone and Bronze
Sculptor and mathematician Helaman Ferguson gave a joint lecture with Claire Ferguson (Ada Comstock '00, author and artist) on April 12, 2013 about his sculpture "Aperiodic Penrose Alpha" first installed at Smith College in 1995, as well as his most recent piece, the 24-foot high, 65-ton Umbilic Torus SC installed at Stonybrook University in October 2013. Claire and Helaman Ferguson received the AMS-MAA-SIAM Joint Policy Board for Mathematics Communications Award 2002, "... who together have dazzled the mathematical community and a far wider public with exquisite sculptures embodying mathematical ideas along with artful and accessible essays and lectures elucidating the mathematical concepts." More info about Helaman Ferguson's work can be found here.
The granite sculpture "Aperiodic Penrose Alpha" was created by the noted mathematician/sculptor Helaman Ferguson in collaboration with Marjorie Senechal, Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology. The sculpture stands on a base of Penrose tiles; part of a remarkable pattern that never exactly repeats. That's the "aperiodic Penrose" part; the "alpha" in the title means that this was the first of Ferguson's many sculptures combining a tiling and its associated torus, which encodes the tiling's scaling properties. (For more on Penrose tilings and their remarkable properties, see Senechal's book Quasicrystals and Geometry).
Mark Hansen, a New York-based statistician and artist who now directs the David and Helen Gurley Brown Institute for Media Innovation at Columbia University spoke at Smith College on Tuesday, March 12th about the intersection of data science and art. Far from virtual, inert quantities, data exert real forces in the physical world. They are incendiaries wielding the power of once-secret diplomatic cables; mores initiated with the invention of a privacy setting; and physical laws shaping the built environment with the quiet, persistent action of zoning regulations. Data rarely act in isolation, gaining power through combination, joining forces and moving into new terrain. Their presence is thought to guarantee transparency, their absence is seen as suspicious, and restrictions on their movement appear to be temporary, at best. Mark took a broad view of data (and companion ideas like "algorithm," "model" and "visualization") and explore their use in creative practices. He presented a selection of work from his artistic collaborations over the last decade -- From a permanent display in the lobby of the New York Times building and a new work for the 9/11 Memorial Museum in New York City; to a performance designed as part of the New York Public Library’s centennial celebration last June. He tied these artworks to a larger movement in which data and data processing are seeping into almost every academic discipline on campus. Mark's talk culminated with a proposal to aggregate the data practices from science, the humanities, and even art and design under a single umbrella -- Data science.
Sol LeWitt's Installation
Join us on Thursday, Feb 28 at 4 p.m. in Burton Hall for a talk on the recently completed installation of the So LeWitt's Wall Drawing #139, Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides (1972). Full details from the Smith College Museum of Arts can be found here
On January 7-19, 2013, Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #139, Grid and arcs from the midpoints of four sides (1972), will be permanently installed in Burton Hall, home to the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. The drawing was contributed by an anonymous donor from the class of 1947 to the Smith College Museum of Art. Roland Lusk, a representative from LeWitt's studio, will perform the installation assisted by Clara Bauman (2013), Mingjia Chen (2015) and Clara Rosebrock (2016), through the MathStudio.
A leader in the development of conceptual art in the U.S., LeWitt emphasized the idea behind a work of art over its execution. The artist created many works that consists of detailed instructions that could be completed by anyone and at any time or place. "Instructions for LeWitt’s wall drawings seem precise and rational, but their execution is often irrational, so that any beauty or aesthetic value that comes out of it is incidental,” says Aprile Gallant, curator of prints, drawings, and photographs at the Smith College Museum of Arts. “At the same time, these simple systems create interesting anomalies as their instructions are interpreted by the people who follow them. These intersections between the rational and spontaneous are an essential component of the work.”
The art was also previously installed and exhibited at the Smith College Museum of Art in 2008.
This installation was made possible by the Ann Weinbaum Solomon, class of 1959 Fund, the Office of the Provost, and the Ellen Borie Fund. See more...
After 96 hours of challenge and excitement, three teams of Smith students successfully completed the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM), an annual international competition for undergraduates. Dana Udwin was subsequently interviewed on a local radio station, 93.9 The River, to discuss Smith students participation. Recording of the interview is available here
The 2013 MCM took place on Jan. 31-Feb. 4, 2013. This year problems deals with (A) designing the ultimate brownie pan, or (B) identifying the optimal fresh water distribution strategy. The three teams are:
Senechal's book featured on NPR
A January 13th episode of the popular NPR news program All Things Considered featured an interview with Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita Marjorie Senechal about her book I Died for Beauty: Dorothy Wrinch and the Cultures of Science. The title subject was a path-breaking mathematician, while the title itself was borrowed from a poem by Emily Dickinson.
Full audio of the interview is available here.
Smith Math Talks at 2013 Joint Mathematics Meetings
Here is a list of talks presented by Smith students, faculty and alumnae at the 2013 AMS-MAA Joint Mathematics Meetings to be held in San Diego from January 9th-12th.
Aki Sasamoto, a New York-based Japanese artist who works in dance, sculpture and perforamce continues
her successful collaborations with Smith Mathematician Pau Atela
Sasamoto specializes in movement that is centered on installations of everyday objects arranged into sculptural environments. Her newest work incorporates a pendulum mechanism created by the mathematician Pau Atela. This work
was featured in the New York Times.
Aki previously visited Smith along with a group of artists and
Tammy Baldwin '84 elected to U.S. Senate
Tammy Baldwin '84 won her race to become the next U.S. senator from Wisconsin. The broadcasters always mention the fact that she is the first openly gay candidate to be elected to the Senate. That may be significant, but more importantly, she is the first Smith math major to be elected to the Senate.
Now that the barrier has been broken, we're sure there will be many more.
Tammy had previously served as the Representative from Wisconsin's 2nd congressional district since 1999. She delivered the 131st commencement address at Smith in 2009.
Two faculty members named to inaugural class of American Mathematical Society Fellows
Smith College faculty members Ileana Streinu and Marjorie Senechal were recently recognized for their outstanding contributions to mathematics and named among scientists from around the world to the 2013 prestigious inaugural class of American Mathematical Society (AMS) Fellows. Streinu, Charles N. Clark Professor of Computer Science as well as Professor of Mathematics and Statistics, and Senechal, Louise Wolff Kahn Professor Emerita in Mathematics and History of Science and Technology, are among the 1,119 Fellows who represent more than 600 institutions.
In 2010, Streinu received a prestigious award for mathematical research addressing a longstanding fundamental problem in geometry, with applications in robotics and computational biology. The David P. Robbins Prize from the American Mathematical Society (AMS) is awarded just every three years for a paper that reports on novel research in algebra, combinatorics or discrete mathematics. Streinu was honored for her algorithmic solution of the “carpenter’s rule problem,” which asks whether any polygonal chain-a connected series of line segments-can be continuously straightened out in a way that avoids self-intersections.
In addition, Streinu was the inaugural director of the Four College Biomathematics Consortium aimed at training the next generation of scientists in the rapidly emerging field of biomathematics and created in 2011 by a $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation.
Senechal is the recipient of the prestigious Carl B. Allendoerfer Award of the Mathematical Association of America and in the Millia Davenport Publication Award of the Costume Society of America. She is formerly the director of Smith’s Louise W. and Edmund J. Kahn Liberal Arts Institute that supports collaborative research among Smith faculty, students and visiting scholars without regard to the traditional boundaries of departments, programs and academic divisions. Senechal’s books include Shaping Space, Crystalline Symmetries, Quasicrystals and Geometry, Long Life to Your Children! A Portrait of High Albania," and American Silk. She recently completed a biography of former Smith College physics professor Dorothy Wrinch. See more...)
WIMIN 2013 Conference
The Center for Women in Mathematics and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics hosted WIMIN12 (the Women in Mathematics in the Northeast) on Saturday, September 22. The annual conference is open to all, particularly students working on a research project. This year, the conference was attended by over 120 registered participants and featured 31 student talks, a Graduate School panel, along with two plenary talks by Christine Heitsch (Georgia Tech) and Annalisa Crannell (Franklin and Marshall). The Center for Women in Mathematics is an NSF funded project to provide intensive training in mathematics for women at the advanced undergraduate level. The Center offers two programs open to visiting students: the junior program and the postbaccalaureate program.
Ruth Haas named chaired professor
The Smith College Board of Trustees recently conferred chaired professorships on
three Smith faculty members, including Ruth Haas, professor of mathematics and statistics and
Professor Haas received her undergraduate degree from Swarthmore College and a doctorate from Cornell University. She arrived at Smith in 1989 and was promoted to professor in 2002. Her research is both algebraic and combinatorial, and spans both theoretical and applied topics, including combinatorics, splines, commutative and computer algebras and operations research.
She was instrumental in the establishment and organization of the Smith Center for Women and Mathematics, which was recently recognized by the American Mathematical Society as a program that does an outstanding job of encouraging women and members of underrepresented minority groups to pursue studies in the mathematical sciences.
Monthly Problem Contest winner off to MathFest in Wisconsin
Haomin Yan '14 is the winner of the department's monthly problem contest for 2011-12. As the winner, Haomin will travel to the MathFest conference in Madison, WI this summer with all expenses covered by the department. There she will represent Smith in the national problem solving competition organized by the American Society for the Communication of Mathematics. MathFest is the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America. It includes many activities which are accessible and fun for undergraduates.
Nicholas Horton named Fellow of the ASA
Nicholas Horton was named a Fellow of the American Statistical for his outstanding contributions to statistical education; for excellence in the development of applications to medical research; and for exemplary leadership and service to the profession and to ASA. Given annually, the honorary title of Fellow recognizes full members of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions to an aspect of statistical work. The recipients were recognized for their outstanding professional contributions to and leadership in the field of statistical science. The Fellows will receive their certificates at a ceremony on Tuesday evening, July 31, at the annual Joint Statistical Meetings, to be held this year in San Diego, California. See more...)
Mathematics and statistics students inducted into honor societies
As commencement nears, a number of students in mathematics and statistics have been inducted into two national honorary societies. Research work by Kathryn Aloisio, Pamela L. Clark, Linh Dinh, Raquel Arlene Blossom Federick, Daphne A. Gold, Shalla D. Hanson, Micaela Y. Harris, Carolyn K. Hotchkiss, Weici Hu, Kirin M. Khan, Kristina M. Martin, Arielle McCoy, Colleen McGaughey, Katherine J. Meyer, Samantha A. Monastra, Sajala Pandey, Tia Pilaroscia, Shira M. Polster, Alison M. Pryor, Alexis M. Sparko, Julie L. Woods, Zoe Zadworny and Yuting Zhao led to their inclusion in Sigma Xi. Excellent work in statistics led to membership in Mu Sigma Rho for Sarah Anoke, Guangye Cao and Wenyue Yang. Our congratulations go to all of these students.
Data deluge: Mathematics Awareness Month
Massive amounts of data are collected every day, often from services we use regularly, but never think about. Scientific data comes in massive amounts from sensor networks, astronomical instruments, biometric devices, etc., and needs to be sorted out and understood.
The question of how statistics and related approaches are used to
address these questions is the
theme for Mathematics Awareness Month, April 2012.
Logician to the rescue: instant reply for presidential debates
Advocacy and debate are healthy dynamics of democracy. Argument is needed, but argument as practiced in our public forums is often dangerously irrational. Watching the presidential debates,
Smith Mathematics and Statistics Professor Jim Henle came to the conclusion that these arguments are sorely in need of regulation.
Smith students present research at the Joint Mathematics Meetings
Several students had the opportunity to present their research at the 2012 Joint Mathematics Meetings, held from January 4-7 in Boston, Massachusetts. Several post-baccalaureate students gave talks, including The Rainbow Domination Number of a Graph by Micaela Harris, Kristina Martin, Shira Polster, and Julie Woods (faculty advisor Ruth Haas), and Folded Ribbon Knots in the Plane by Eleanor Conley, Emily Meehan, and Rebecca Terry (faculty advisor Elizabeth Denne). Arielle McCoy, Cal Hotchkiss, Alison Pryor, and Kirin Khan discussed The Life and Death of a Geodesic (faculty advisor Jim Henle), and Samantha Monastra, Pamela Clark, and Jessica Grant presented research on the Periodic Rigidity of Protein Crystal Structures (faculty advisor Ileana Streinu). Undergraduates participated as well, with Thealexa Becker presenting collaborative work on Virus Dynamics in Star Graphs (faculty advisor Steven Miller), and undergraduate Weici Hu discussing "Statistical methods accounting for the missing observations in confounding variables and comparison of their efficiency based on simulation study" in a poster session (#306) (faculty advisor Nicholas Horton).
Katherine Halvorsen named Mosteller Statistician of the year
Smith Mathematics and Statistics Professor Katherine Halvorsen
named the Mosteller Statistician of the year by the Boston Chapter of the
American Statistical Association for exceptional contributions to the field
of statistics and outstanding service to the statistical community.
Individuals from academia, industry, and government who have been actively associated with the Boston Chapter are considered for the award.
Alumna career profile: applying math to public health
Smith Mathematics and Statistics graduate Mariel Finucane '05 was recently
profiled in Science Careers (from the journal Science). She
reported wanting a career that would "have a positive impact in the world".
She's found a way to do that, combining work at the Desmond Tutu HIV Centre
at the University of Cape Town, teaching in the Marshall Islands, and
graduate and postdoctoral study at the Harvard School of Public Health.
Alumna book: Number sense and number nonsense
Smith Mathematics graduate Nancy Krasa '69 recently published
Number Sense and Number Nonsense: Understanding the Challenges of Learning Math,
which addresses the question of
how children learn math, and why do some children struggle with it? This
straightforward, reader-friendly book for education professionals and invaluable multidisciplinary resource for researchers helps better understand how kids learn.
Smith Center for Women in Mathematics given national honor
The American Mathematical Society (AMS) is honoring the Smith College Center for Women in Mathematics as a program that does an outstanding job of encouraging women and members of underrepresented minority groups to pursue studies in the mathematical sciences. The other honoree for 2011 is the Department of Mathematics at North Carolina State University. "The programs recognized this year are truly remarkable," said Susan Loepp of Williams College, who served as chair of the selection committee. "Students in these programs receive extraordinary and individualized mentoring in a supportive, yet demanding atmosphere. The number of women and underrepresented minorities who are inspired to continue in mathematics because of these two programs is impressive." Read more about the Award... Read more from the AMS...
James Henle named chaired professor
The Smith College Board of Trustees recently conferred chaired professorships on
three Smith faculty members, including James Henle, professor of mathematics and statistics and
Myra M. Sampson Professor.
Professor Henle received an undergraduate degree from Dartmouth College and a doctorate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He arrived at Smith in 1976 and was promoted to professor in 1988. He has published on set theory, calculus, logic, the logic of infinities, mathematics pedagogy and puzzles.
He teaches Linear Algebra and Valid and Invalid Reasoning: What Follows from What? He has served on several major committees, including the
Committee on Tenure and Promotion and the Committee on Academic Priorities.
He was instrumental in establishing the Smith Center for Women and Mathematics, which was recently recognized by the American Mathematical Society as a program that does an outstanding job of encouraging women and members of underrepresented minority groups to pursue studies in the mathematical sciences.
Burton Hall construction update
Burton Hall, home of the Mathematics and Statistics department and part of the college's Clark Science Center cluster, is receiving major renovations this summer. The project includes replacement of the building's numerous windows and roof, and reconstructed corridors, as well as structural upgrades. Read more and see pictures...
Sarah Costrell runner up in History of Mathematics writing contest
Smith student Sarah Costrell was named a runner up in the Mathematical
Association of America's History of Mathematics special interest group student writing contest. Sarah's essay
discussed the Quadrivium of Isidore of Seville.
Five Alumnae to Complete Math PhDs at Top Schools. Is It a Story?!“Congratulations!” announced the email from alumna Marian Schaap Weinberg, Class of 1941, of Sleepy Hollow, N.Y. Weinberg was responding to the recent honor awarded to the Smith College Center for Women in Mathematics. In April, the American Mathematical Society lauded the center for its success encouraging women to pursue studies in the mathematical sciences. Weinberg went on to explain that she was “one of exactly 12 math majors…considered somewhat of an oddity” when she was at Smith. After receiving her degree, Weinberg taught high school math and later became involved in computer programming, which makes her “still somewhat of an oddity,” she wrote. Read the full article...
Congrats to graduates!
The department is happy to celebrate our graduates' success, and invites students and their families to a reception in the Mathematics and Statistics Forum (Burton 3rd floor) on Saturday, May 14th from 3:30-5:00pm.
Statistics faculty awards and election results
Smith statisticians Katherine Halvorsen and Nicholas Horton were recently elected to national office of the American Statistical Association (ASA). Katherine will serve as the chair of the Council of Sections Governing Board, while Nick will become a member of the Board of Directors. Nick was also the recipient of the Boston Chapter of the ASA Chapter Service Award, for his extensive service on behalf of the chapter, which proudly serves members in Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine and Rhode Island.
Mathematics and statistics students inducted into honor societies
As commencement nears, a number of students in mathematics and statistics have been inducted into two national honorary societies. Research work by Sarah Anoke, Shivani Aryal, Sarah Costrell, Eleanor Conley, Elizabeth Cowdery, Lily Du, Margaret Ewing, Chi Gao, Ella Hartenian, Yang Li, Jessica Lord, Samantha Lowe, Emily Meehan, Micaela Mendlow, Emily Merrill, Viktoria Pardey, Allison Reed-Harris, Jayna Resman, Rebecca Terry, Ma Thida, Samantha Torquato, Stephanie Wang, Cora Waterman and Hazel Won led to their inclusion in Sigma Xi. Excellent work in statistics led to membership in Mu Sigma Rho for Kathryn Aloisio, Shivani Aryal, Elizabeth Do, Emily Morgan Dodwell, Chi Gao, Kathryn (Molly) Johnson, Elizabeth Jung, Kathryn Elizabeth Lynch, Margaret Kemunto Nyamumbo Ma Thida, and Zoe Zadworny.
Smith senior scholar athlete honored
Mathematics major Kathryn (Molly) Johnson was recently honored along with 14 other Smith College Senior Scholar Athletes for maintaining outstanding academic performance while competing for three or more years at the varsity level. In addition, Molly was the Crew winner of the Marly Pineda Pioneer Team award. This recognition is given to those Smith athletes who exemplify dedication, passion, selflessness, sportsmanship, and the spirit of a champion. All honorees are known for their positive attitude, their commitment toward making everyone around them feel welcomed and supported, and their "never ever" give up spirit that makes them special and a champion in life. Crew coach Karen Klinger (SC '87) writes
Molly Johnson is our heart. She impacts the team on every level possible. A leader thru example, cheerleader and task master, athlete and coach, entertainer and confidant. Always asking more of herself than others, she also expects everyone to perform and dedicate themselves to the team.
Mathematics and Statistics graduate successfully defends her thesis and publishes in the Lancet
Mariel Finucane (Smith College class of 2005) recently
defended her doctoral dissertation (entitled
Bayesian methods for global health monitoring) in the Department
of Biostatistics at the Harvard School
of Public Health. Mariel also recently was the first author of a paper
The Lancet entitled National, regional, and global trends in body-mass index since 1980: systematic analysis of health examination surveys and epidemiological studies with 960 country-years and 9.1 million participants. Mariel will be starting a postdoctoral research position
in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard School of
Student off to MathFest
Congratulations to Jay Griffiths, this year's winner of the monthly
math problem contest. As winner of the contest Jay will get to attend
the MathFest conference this summer in Lexington, Kentucky
and will represent Smith at the national
problem solving contest.
MathFest is the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America is the premier summertime event in mathematics. The meeting offers a substantial mathematical program that is fascinating, informative, and productive. In keeping with the less formal summer season there are also many opportunities to enjoy mathematics and to have fun with it.
Assessment of Quantitative Skills
Smith Mathematics and Statistics students and faculty have been working with the Spinelli Quantitative Skills Center
to assess the quantitative skills of graduating seniors. This Q-team arose
to better understand whether students have the appropriate skills needed to succeed
in the outside world.
Jennifer Wise '10 part of Research Experiences for Graduate Students presentations
Smith Math graduate Jennifer Wise's work on Edge-Antipodal Colorings of Hypergraphs (with Hannah Kolb and Oliver Pechenik) was featured in the Fall 2010
summer Research Experiences for Graduate Students showcase at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. This project was part of an NSF funded
effort called Mentoring Through Critical Transition Points.
Statistical methods paper published with student first author
A paper entitled The use and abuse of multiple outcomes in randomized controlled depression trials derived from Kristin Tyler's
special studies project was recently published in the
journal Contemporary Clinical Trials. Kristin (Mathematics
and Statistics graduate from the class of 2008),
was the first author of the paper, along with
Sharon-Lise Normand of Harvard University
The paper concerns itself with the appropriate analysis of multiplicity
in study design and interpretation.
Students present research at Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans
Four groups of Smith students presented their research at the 2011 Joint
Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans, as well as part of the Smith Mathematics
and Statistics lunch
talk series in December. Emily Hale-Sills, Emily Merrill and Samantha Lowe
spoke on Bell ringing and domination, Sarah Costrell, Margaret Ewing, Jessica Lord and Viktoria Pardey described their work on
Groups and change ringing, Elizabeth Cowdery, Allison Reed-Harris, Jayna Resman and Michelle Winerip talked about the Geometry and dynamics
or an ecological arms race, while Yonit Bousany, Lily Du and Stefanie Wang
presented their work on Experiments in monotone kinetic visibility.
Michelle Snider ('04) completes PhD in Mathematics
Smith Mathematics graduate Michelle Snider successfully completed her Cornell University PhD thesis entitled Affine Patches on Positroid Varieties and Affine Pipe Dreams. The objects of interest in her thesis are positroid varieties in the Grassmannian, which are indexed by juggling patterns. Congrats to her and best wishes for the future! Read the thesis... Read more about Michelle...
Nicholas Horton recipient of the Sherrerd Prize for distinguished teaching
Nicholas Horton, Department of Mathematics and Statistics was one of three members of the Smith faculty awarded the Kathleen Compton Sherrerd ’54 and John J. F. Sherrerd Prize for Distinguished Teaching. Emeritus Mathematics and Statistics emeritus faculty member David Cohen received the award in 2004. Watch the video... Read about the winners...
WiMin and Smath conferences a success
The Center for Women in Mathematics and the Department of Mathematics and Statistics hosted two successful conferences in September. Events included the SMath conference on Saturday the 25th and the Women in Mathematics in New England undergraduate conference on Sunday the 26th. The Center for Women in Mathematics is an NSF funded project to provide intensive training in mathematics for women at the advanced undergraduate level. The Center offers two programs open to visiting students: the junior program and the postbaccalaureate program.
Summer statistics project at the Energy Information Administration
Tanya Hakim '12 spent her summer in Washington, DC, interning at the Energy Information Administration through the Joint Program in Survey Methodology (JPSM) Junior Fellows Program. Hakim’s project focused on improving the quality of data collected in several of the EIA’s surveys to power plants by studying the current edit system in place and brainstorming new edits to add to the system. The program, run by the University of Maryland–College Park, places undergraduate students at various federal statistical agencies in the DC area (i.e. Census Bureau, Bureau of Economic Analysis) to tackle projects related to survey methodology (a branch of statistics focusing on the mathematics behind surveys). The program offers those accepted into the Junior Fellows Program further opportunities to learn more about the growing field of survey methodology through weekly seminars and visits to the federal statistical agencies that host interns. See more...
Biomathematical sciences concentration
The new Biomathematical Sciences Concentration allows students to integrate the study of mathematics, statistics, computer science and engineering with biology, biochemistry and neuroscience. In addition to the gateway course, the electives and the capstone, the concentration includes two hands-on research experiences in labs that use the tools of the mathematical and computer sciences to parse the meaning of biological phenomena. See more...
Praxis project modeling access to greenways and multi-use trails
Ma Thida completed a summer Praxis project to determine how far people walk and bicycle to rail trails and multi-use trails. This project, which utilized her skills in applied statistics, was undertaken in conjunction with the City of Northampton Office of Planning and Development and the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways. It will help understand usage patterns and plan a network of rail trail and multi-use trails that serves the community. Thida created a framework to approach the problem, then suggested a model of usage and a summary that will be included in the City's Open Space, Recreation, and Multi-Use Plan. The Praxis program provides each Smith sophomore or junior access to a one-time $2,000 stipend that ensures she can afford to participate in a summer internship that draws on her academic background and builds on her career goals.
Math and Stats projects included in Celebrating Collaborations proceedings
Celebrating Collaborations is Smith College’s annual showcase of student research and performance. The event highlights students’ intellectual achievements and their collaborative efforts with faculty in a variety of departmental, program and interdisciplinary projects. Eight Mathematics and Statistics students presentations from this spring's Celebrating Collaborations are now available in the proceedings of the research festival. A total of 205 presentations were part of the 2010 event, These includes posters on the following topics:
- Convergence to Rhombic Tiling in Phyllotaxis: An Exploration in the Dynamical Systems of Plant Formation
- How Many Guards? Exponential Domination in Graphs
- Experimental Design and Analysis of the Cobra Laser
- Composite Outcomes in Clinical Trials: Guidelines for Investigation
- Improving the Performance of Survival Models with Missing Predictors: Making the Best Use of Available Information
- Does Participation in the Smith Summer Research Fellows Program Encourage Pursuit of Advanced Degrees in the Sciences?
- Traversing the Northampton Countryside
- A Graph Theoretical Approach to Supersymmetry
Math and Art creations
Students in the Art/Math Studio Presidential Seminar (PRS309) this past semester combined two distinct but related areas of study: studio art and mathematics. They created a series of 3 dimensional models dealing directly with aspects of mathematics. Instructors Pau Atela, professor in the Mathematics and Statistics Department and John Gibson (Studio Art) supervised intensive work that students created, through reading, oral presentations and critiques, written assignments and creation of their final project. The course is scheduled to be offered again in the spring of 2011.
Professor named Bike Advocate of the Year
Nick Horton, associate professor of mathematics and statistics, and founder and president of the Friends of Northampton Trails and Greenways, accepted an award for 2010 Bike Advocate of the Year on the morning of Wednesday, May 19. The award is given annually by Mass Bike (Massachusetts Bicycle Coalition), a statewide bicycle advocacy group. Horton's group collected more than $10,000 as a donation to support the Rail Trail bike path network in and around Northampton. He received his award during Mass Bike's annual Bike Commute Breakfast on the Northampton courthouse lawn. See more...
Mathematics and statistics students inducted into honor societies
As commencement nears, a number of students in mathematics and statistics have been inducted into two national honorary societies. Research work by Rebecca Benhart, Zehui Chen, Priscah Cheruiyot, Heidi Goodson, Diana Jaunzeikare, Mary Karker, Lei Lei, Shannon McDonough, Sylvia Naples, Marissa Neal, Cyla O'Connor, Portia Parker, Gillian Riggs, Emma Schlatter, Leona Sparaco, Amanda Tapia, Nicole Vitale, Rebbecca Wilson, Jennifer Wise, and Xiao Ting Zhao led to their inclusion in Sigma Xi. Excellent work in statistics led to membership in Mu Sigma Rho for Zehui Chen, Caroline Indge, Marissa Neal, Thida Ma, Cyla O'Connor, Portia Parker, Isabel Sheng, Amanda Tapia, and Hong Yang.
Undergrads with research experience more likely to earn an advanced degree
Smith sophomore Tanya Hakim found summer research fellows had nearly twice the odds of completing an advanced degree relative to those students who did not participate in the program, after accounting for baseline differences in SAT scores and admissions ratings. The results will be presented at the Celebrating Collaborations poster session on Saturday, April 17th, along with a number of other Mathematics and Statistics students and faculty research projects. Tanya worked on this project with Associate Professor Nicholas Horton and Cate Rowen, director of the Office of Institutional Research and Educational Assessment. See more...
CoNE conference (celebrating the inspirations of Michael O. Albertson
A gathering of more than 80 people from all over the world came to Smith March 26-28th to attend the CoNE conference. This was a celebration of the inspirations of Michael O. Albertson. Talks by Mike's collaborators (many of whome are Smith graduates who have excelled in their mathematical careers) included Distinguishing numbers and wreaths, To the moon and beyond, and Vertex identifying sets. See more...
Mathematics and Statistics help Smith College lead peers in NSF funding
In the past 10 years Smith College has won more National Science Foundation (NSF) research funding — over $14 million — than any other select liberal arts college in the nation. The largest single NSF award to Smith during the past decade was dedicated to the education of undergraduate and graduate students. In 2006, Smith received $1.5 million for the establishment of the Center for Women in Mathematics, which runs two programs aimed at increasing the number of women at the top of the field. See more...
Pau Atela, professor in the
Mathematics and Statistics Department hosted a visit by Aki Sasamoto, a New York-based
Japanese artist who works in dance, sculpture, and performance. Her works, involving
installation, sound, and sculpturally altered found objects, investigate the bizarre
emotions behind daily activities, the role of metaphor in art and the body as an instrument
for storytelling. Aki previously visited Smith along with a group of artists and
mathematicians who collaborated on the MathStudio X= project. See
Math Change Ringers continue to ring
The Smith Change Ringers (organized by Mathematics and Statistics faculty members Elizabeth Denne and Michael Bush) have continued to make wonderful sounds in the last year. During Fall 2009 the group rang at several Smith college events including Mountain Day and the dedication of Ford Hall (see the Youtube video) and traveled to Boston to ring at the Old North Church and the Church of the Advent. During Spring 2010 they will ring on Rally Day and as part of the Commencement Weekend activities. Change ringing involves a group of people ringing sequences of permutations on bells in an organized manner according to certain rules. On tower bells each person controls a single bell and the challenge is in maintaining a good rhythm and keeping track of where your bell is relative to others in the sequence. The group is always interested in recruiting new members. See more...
Streinu honored for groundbreaking mathematical research
Smith College Professor Ileana Streinu received a prestigious award for mathematical research addressing a longstanding fundamental problem in geometry, with applications in robotics and computational biology. Streinu was honored for her algorithmic solution of the "carpenter's rule problem," which asks whether any polygonal chain (connected series of line segments) can be continuously straightened out in a way that avoids self-intersections. In Streinu's explanation, the polygon edges are taken as rigid, but the vertices are joints that allow rotation, turning a mathematical object into a simplified model of a robotic arm. While the carpenter's rule is confined to two dimensions, robots--like humans--are three-dimensional. They may get entangled in space, but, as the carpenter's rule result shows, the two-dimensional ones cannot. See more...