10/30: Professor Edward Hanson (Williams College), “Graphs and Matrices”

Please join us for Math Club at its usual time (Wednesday 5:30-6:30) and place (LGRT 1634).  This week, Professor Edward Hanson (Williams College) will be speaking on “Graphs and Matrices” (abstract below).  As always, pizza and soda will be provided.
Hope to see you there!
A graph is a set of vertices together with edges that connect pairs of vertices. Graphs have a variety of applications throughout mathematics, science, and engineering. Algebraic graph theory is a branch of mathematics that uses linear algebra to study questions about graphs. This talk will introduce some basic notions from algebraic graph theory. Little to no background knowledge will be assumed.

10/23: Professor Michael Sullivan, “Everything you want to know about option pricing but were afraid to ask”

Please join us for this week’s Math Club talk at its usual time (Wednesday 5:30-6:30) and place (LGRT 1634).  This week, Professor Michael Sullivan will speak on,”Everything you want to know about option pricing but were afraid to ask” (abstract below).  As usual, free pizza and soda will be provided with the talk.
Hope to see you there!
You may know what a stock is, but do you know what an option on a stock is?  It is a key example of what people call financial derivatives.  An outstanding problem is to figure out how much one of these financial derivatives should cost.  This is called “option pricing” or “derivative pricing.”  Indeed, mispricing derivatives in 2008 was one of the main causes of the (ongoing) Great Recession.

We will go through the basic mathematics of how to price options.  Starting with some simple, but reasonable assumptions we will end
up with a formula that is a simple version of the celebrated Black-Scholes formula (Nobel Prize 1997).  This lecture is the essence of Math 441.

10/16: Alden Gassert, “Opening Parrondo’s Paradox”

This Wednesday at 5:30 in LGRT 1528 (note the room change), Alden Gassert will present, “Opening Parrondo’s Paradox” (abstract below).  As always, we will have free pizza and soda with the talk.


Games of chance are prevalent in our society in both leisure (lottery, casinos) and business (stock market). In most cases these games are heavily biased against the players, yet that does not deter people from playing. Many people make their livelihood creating systems to win despite the odds. In this talk, I introduce a set of biased games and ask the classic gambler’s question: “is there a winning strategy?” You may already be able to guess the answer, but the process we use to answer the question is both unusual and surprising. With this talk, I hope to demonstrate a snippet of why mathematics is such a powerful and wonderful field. The first half of the talk will involve some simple probabilities and will be accessible to (and hopefully enjoyable for) all listeners. In the second half of the talk, I will go deeper into the mathematics involved in our problem to make our results rigorous. Some knowledge of linear algebra will be helpful for this part, but it is not required.

10/9: Professor Erin Conlon, “Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics Research”

Please join us for another Math Club talk this Wednesday, 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1634.  This week, Professor Erin Conlon will speak on “Statistical Methods in Bioinformatics Research” (abstract below).  This should be a really interesting talk, especially to those of you interested in applied math or statistics.


As always, pizza and soda will be provided.  Hope to see you there!


How are genes switched on and off in different activities?
DNA sequence is used to answer this question.  This sequence
is represented by 4 letters: A, C, G and T (for adenine, cytosine,
guanine and thymine), and humans have 6 billion of these letters
in each cell.  I will present statistical methods for identifying
patterns in sequence that are used as “on-off” switches to activate
and deactivate genes in various environments.  The motivation for
this work is to develop treatments for health conditions.

10/2: Professor Tom Braden, Graduate School in Mathematics

On Wednesday, October 2, 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1634, Professor Tom Braden will be hosting a special info session on graduate school in mathematics.  Not only is Professor Braden the Graduate Program director here, but he has also served on admissions committees and knows a thing or two about putting together a strong application.

As usual, pizza and soda will be provided.  Hope to see you there!

9/18: Tobias Wilson, The Intersection of Parallel Lines

On Wednesday, September 18, 5:30-6:30 in LGRT 1528, Tobias Wilson will give the first talk of the semester on “The Intersection of Parallel Lines” (abstract below). As usual, free pizza and soda will be provided.

Hope to see you there!


Two distinct lines in a plane either intersect in exactly one point or
are parallel and never intersect. In this talk, we will reunite those
lonely parallel lines by introducing the notion of projective space.
We will then explore various definitions of projective space and end
by deriving some cool results about curves and tangent lines.