Older Departmental News
Math Wars 1870: Educating for Empire
In celebration of the career of David Cohen, on Saturday, October 31st, a group of colleagues, students, friends and admirers played a game in the format pioneered by the Reacting to the Past project. The game was written by David Cohen and Marjorie Senechal, and took players through the curricular/philosophical/political/mathematical debate that took place in England in the 1870's. See more...
WiMiN conference hosted by department
A group of more than 100 students and faculty from Amherst, Bard, Brown, Cornell, Dartmouth, Hamilton, Harvard, Holy Cross, MIT, McGill, Mount Holyoke, Simon's Rock, SUNY Brockport, UMass, University of Connecticut, Vassar, Wesleyan, Wheaton and Yale converged at Smith College on Saturday, September 26th as part of the WiMiN (Women in Mathematics in New England) conference. Keynote talks were given by Mia Minnes from MIT as well as Anna Lysyanskaya of Brown University, with 4 parallel sessions of contributed talks. See more...
Smith faculty co-author of online guide helps students cut down alcohol
An inexpensive, Web-based program based on a research paper co-authored by Smith professor Nicholas Horton could help the heaviest drinkers cut down without the need for costly medical consultations. The THRIVE project is headquartered in Australia. Read New Scientist article... Read Sydney Morning Herald article... Read paper...
Math in Bolivia
Mary Murphy, senior lecturer in the Mathematics and Statistics Department spent 6 weeks at the Unidad Académica Campesina de Carmen Pampa, a small Bolivian university for the rural poor. She worked with about 50 students who were trying to get up to speed in algebra, to help them qualify for one of the pre-professional programs. Mary also spent two days at an isolated one-room schoolhouse in the mountains, two hours uphill from the nearest road, which was begun by one of the University's recent graduates and serves a dozen youngsters, ranging in age from five to eleven. This was Mary's fifth stay in Carmen Pampa.
Students at the school.
Behind the scenes but gaining notice
Increasing demand for statisticians in academia and industry has resulted in growing enrollment in statistics courses at Smith and other liberal arts colleges. Read article...
British government apologizes to Alan Turing
Alan Turing, brilliant mathematician and code breaker during World War II, received an apology from British Prime Minister Gordon Brown for his conviction for being gay. Brown stated that I'm proud to say sorry to a real war here. Read article...
College Majors that help get jobs
Statistics majors tend to be highly sought-after graduates and are often hired into lucrative positions straight out of college, says a recent report in Smart Money magazine. analysis to do anything regarding research and to assess various alternatives, whether it’s in alternative energy or health care. Read article...
Student presentations at the Joint Statistical Meetings
Smith students Zehui Chen, Shannon McDonough, Portia Parker, and Kristin Tyler ('09) participated in the Joint Statistical Meetings in Washington DC in August, along with approximately 6,400 other statisticians from all over the world. Zehui was involved with the organization of the Meeting within a Meeting (coordinated by Smith faculty member Katherine Halvorsen), while Shannon, Portia and Kristin presented results from their research findings with Smith faculty advisor Nicholas Horton.
The conference received favorable coverage in the New York Times, among other places.
National award for excellence in teaching
Smith faculty member Nicholas Horton received the Waller Education Award at the Joint Statistics Meetings in Washington DC. Retired ASA Executive Director Ray Waller and his wife Carolyn established the Waller Education Award in 2002 to recognize a statistics teacher early in his/her career for excellence and innovation in teaching introductory statistics at the undergraduate level. Nick was commended for his outstanding contributions to and innovation in the teaching of elementary statistics. Read more...
Report back from the Unknot conference
Math majors Shivani Aryal, Shorena Kalandarishvili and Sarah Meyer and math faculty Elizabeth Denne presented at the Unknot Conference held at Denison University July 15-17, 2009.
Elizabeth gave one of the invited addresses titled "How much string does it take to tie your shoelaces?". This was an introductory talk about the ropelength problem: given a rope of fixed diameter, what is the least length needed to tie a knot? It turns out this is a very difficult problem, while the minimum ropelength is known for some links, it is not known for knots! By the way, numerical computations and Denne's research suggest that somewhere between 15.66 and 16.37 inches of 1 inch diameter rope are needed to tie the simplest knot. Shorena and Sarah gave a 15 minute presentation on "Folded-flat ribbon knots". This was about the research that they and Shivani are doing on knotted ribbons. These are knots and links constructed from rectangles of fixed width which are then folded flat in the plane.
Math grad tracks twin passions of math, mushing
Smith alumna and Mathematics major Caitlin (Brady) Santos '03, who has taught math the past five years in a remote village in Alaska, has been awarded a $150,000 fellowship from the Knowles Science Teaching Foundation of Moorestown, N.J. In addition to teaching math, Santos and her husband breed and train sled dogs with a goal of competing in the Iditarod, the 1,150-mile musher's marathon from Anchorage to Nome. Caitlin was profiled in the July 15, 2009 Daily Hampshire Gazette (subscription required). Read Caitlin's website...
David Cohen Honored at Smith Commencement
David Cohen, professor of mathematics and statistics and a member of the Smith College faculty for more than four decades, was named 2009 Honored Professor during the commencement ceremony May 17. “This year’s honored professor has a deep and abiding interest in teaching – and an undeniable gift for it,” said President Carol T. Christ, upon presenting the award. “A pioneer in the use of collaborative techniques to teach mathematics, he empowers students to take charge of their intellectual growth – especially in a discipline traditionally hostile to women.” Cohen is an expert in empirical logic and quantum theory, as well as the mathematical education of non-mathematicians. He wrote four influential books including “Conversational Calculus” and “Calculus: The Language of Change,” which he co-authored with a longtime Smith colleague James Henle. Read the full story...
Celebrating the Inspirations of Michael O. Albertson
The results of the 68th William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition have recently been announced and the Smith contingent did very well. The competition, which took place in December 2008, consisted of two 3 hour exams, each with 6 problems. The problems were selected to test participants mathematical insight and creativity and were far from routine. Several Smith students managed to solve one problem successfully (in some cases more than one) and overall Smith ranked 122 out of the 545 institutions taking part.
Congratulations to Smith Senior Scholar Athletes honored at the Academic Luncheon on April 7, 2009. Recipients include Nora Youngs (Mathematics Major, Cross Country and Track and Field) and Kate Lofgren (Statistics Minor, Skiing).
Tammy Baldwin Gives Smith Commencement Address
Tammy Baldwin, a Smith College alumna and the first woman to serve in the House of Representatives from her native Wisconsin, was the speaker at Smith's 131st commencement ceremony Sunday, May 17. View a video of the speech... Read the speech...
Festival of Disorder
Toward the end of the twentieth century, scientists discovered that “disorder” isn’t random, it’s a maze of subtle patterns, subtleties that can fuel social, artistic, and scientific change. This two-day Festival (April 24 and 25, 2009) is a disorderly romp through disorders of many kinds, concocted and led by the Student and Faculty Fellows of the Kahn Institute’s year-long research project “A Festival of Disorder.” We dedicate it to the memory of Professor Michael Albertson (1946–2009), a Faculty Fellow in this project. His intriguing questions spurred us on. See the festival brochure...
Visual artist opens Math Studio
Renowned American contemporary visual artist Richard Tuttle presented the opening talk at “x=,” a three-day art and math symposium, and the inaugural event for MathStudio, a new collaborative project directed by Pau Atela, professor of mathematics and statistics. The talk on Thursday, October 16, 2008 reflected on the intersections between math and art and the essentially creative nature of both. Read the full story...
Student Government teaching award
Nicholas Horton was one of two recipients of the Smith College Student Government teaching award, presented at February 18th, 2009 (Rally Day).
Bell-ringing hosted by Marjorie Batchelor '73 and Alan Winter
Over several of the past weeks this fall, Batchelor and Winter have worked with a group of about 12 students and faculty members. The idea of re-forming the change-ringing band was proposed last year when Batchelor gave a workshop at the Center for Women and Mathematics called, "Change-Ringing: Theory and Practice on Handbells." Professor Jim Henle of the mathematics and statistics department said the art of bell ringing is "a task with all sorts of "mathematical permutations." The complex art consists of ringing bells in different rearrangements, the most basic of which are descending scale rounds. Read the full story...
Statistics alumnae profiled
Smith '05 mathematics graduate Mariel Finucane was included in a
profile of doctoral students at the Harvard University Department of
Biostatistics. Mariel described that she always loved numbers, but only
recently began to think of them as instruments of social change. She finds
using rigorous statistical methods to investigate the cause and effects of
infectious disease to be very appealing.
View the full profile...
View a Smith profile of Mariel from 2005...
Read part of Mariel's published thesis...
Women in Mathematics in New England conference hosted by Smith
The Department hosted a well-attended conference in the Fall of 2008. Stay tuned for plans for next year's gathering. See pictures...
Katherine Halvorsen named Fellow of the ASA
At the Joint Statistical Meetings in August 2008 in Denver, Katherine Halvorsen was named a Fellow. Given annually, the honorary title of Fellow recognizes full members of established reputation who have made outstanding contributions to an aspect of statistical work. Fellow of the American Statistical Association (See award brochure...)