Elizabeth Drellich, “The Zombies are Generating!”

Please join us for the Undergraduate Math Seminar, which meets at its usual time and place this week- Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1634. Elizabeth Drellich will deliver a Halloween themed talk entitled “The Zombies are Generating!” (abstract below). As always, pizza and soda
will be provided.

See you there!


If on Halloween there is one zombie, who infects 3 people on Nov.1,
and then each zombie infects 3 new people a day, every day, we will
see that it is straight forward to calculate that there will be 4^n
zombies walking around on the nth day after Halloween. That is a lot
of zombies. But what if the zombie virus only allowed a newly created
zombie to lurch around for 2 days? Or what if each zombie infects 3
people its first day, but only one its second day before it decomposes
and is unable to hunt for more brains? We will learn about generating
functions as a way to determine how many zombies are out to get us.
Some parts of this talk will assume that you have seen sequences and
series, but it is aimed at anyone who prefers eating pizza to human

Why Vote? The only reasonable voting system is a dictatorship.

Hi everyone,

This week, Nico Aiello will be speaking on: “Why vote? The only reasonable voting system is a dictatorship” (abstract below). As always, pizza and soda will be provided. We’ll also be back in our usual room, LGRT1634 from 5:30-6:30


In honor of election season, we will discuss voting theory and Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem. It is not difficult to convince yourself that if we were to design a voting system, we would want the following two fairness criteria to be satisfied: 1) if every voter prefers X over Y, then society prefers X over Y and 2) if every voter’s preference between X and Y remains unchanged, then society’s preference between X and Y also remains unchanged. And yet, in his 1949 PhD thesis, Kenneth Arrow proved that if there are more than two choices in an election, the only rank-order voting system that satisfies both of the above conditions is a dictatorship. We will prove this somewhat troubling theorem and discuss what “fixes” can be made to our voting system to sidestep Arrow’s negative conclusion. This talk assumes no mathematical background and will therefore be very accessible to everyone.

Tobias Wilson: The History of Functions; Special room: LGRT1530

This week, I’ll be speaking on the History of Functions (subtitled, regretfully, Putting the Fun in Functions)- an abstract appears below.

Note that for this week only, we will be meeting in LGRT 1530. We’ll have pizza and drinks as usual.

Although functions are fundamental mathematical objects, they weren’t actually defined until 1673, by Leibniz. Since that time, the definition has evolved in a variety of directions- occasionally false, as when Fourier defined functions to be anything with a Fourier series. In this talk, we’ll trace the development of the definition through history and then discuss extending the notion of a function to a variety of branches of modern mathematics. This talk will be very accessible and (hopefully) entertaining.

No Math Seminar 10/3

There won’t be an Undergrad Math Seminar this week because we thought many of you would want to go to the Actuary Career Fair, which is happening at our usual time. Check it out if you’re interested, and we’ll start up again next week with a talk on statistics by Michael Lavine.