Gradaute School in Mathematics

Thinking of graduate school in mathematics? Do you wonder who goes to graduate school in math, how to prepare, how to apply, etc? This week Wednesday 10/26 at 5:30 in LGRT 1634 Math Club hopes to answer these questions for you with a special event on graduate school in mathematics. UMass’s graduate program director, Professor Tom Braden, will give a presentation. Afterward, a panel of graduate students will be available for Q and A. As usual we will have pizza and soda with the talk!

Pythagoras at the Bat: An Introduction to Statistics and Modelling

Calling all baseball fans! Just in time for the Worlds Series, Professor Steven J. Miller from Williams College will present “Pythagoras at the Bat: An Introduction to Statistics and Modelling.” Come listen and enjoy free pizza and soda! Note that this week Math Club will meet in **LGRT 1528** at the usual time, 5:30-6:30.


Let RS (resp., RA) denote the average number of runs scored (resp., allowed) in a baseball game by a team. It was numerically observed years ago that a good predictor of a team’s won-loss percentage is RS2 / (RS2 + RA2), though no one knew WHY the formula worked. We review elementary concepts of probability and statistics and discuss how one can build and solve a model for this problem. In the course of investigating this problem we discuss how one attacks problems like this in general (what are the features of a good model, how to solve it, and so on). The only pre-requisite is simple calculus (no baseball knowledge is required, though Red Sox knowledge is always a plus, unless those bums played so poorly that they didn’t make the playoffs!).

Minesweeper and the Million-Dollar Math Problem

This week our speaker is Jeffrey Hatley. He will talk to us about “Minesweeper and the Million-Dollar Math Problem.” Come listen and enjoy free pizza and soda from 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1634!

One of the most important questions in mathematics and theoretical computer science today is whether P = NP; roughly speaking, this question asks whether certain problems are truly as “hard” as they appear to be. In this talk, we will make precise the definition of a “hard” problem and discuss some of the implications of a yes or no answer to the P vs. NP question. Finally, we will explain its surprising relationship to the popular computer game and procrastination tool Minesweeper.

Diophantine Equations and Elliptic Cuves

This Wednesday 10/5 from 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1634 LGRT 1528 (the actuarial fair will be in 1634 from 4-7 PM – be sure to check that out as well) Holley Friedlander will present “An introduction to Diophantine equations and elliptic curves.” Come listen and enjoy free pizza and soda!

We will consider rational solutions to polynomial equations of the form F(x,y)=0 with integer coefficients. These types of equations were first studied by Greek mathematician Diophantus of Alexandria in the 3rd century. Since then, many interesting applications of Diophantine equations have been discovered. Two natural questions one can ask about these types of equations are: is there a rational solution? and if so, are there infinitely many rational solutions? We will completely answer these questions when the degree of F is 1 or 2. The case degree of F equal to 3 is more delicate and will lead us to the definition of an elliptic curve. The talk will focus on specific examples that emphasize how algebra, number theory, and geometry all play a role in the study of Diophantine equations.