Departmental Colloquium 2017-2018

Thursdays, 4:00 PM, JWB 335

Fall 2017

August 31: AWM Colloquium
Speaker: Moon Duchin, Tufts University
Title: Can you hear the shape of a billiard table?
Abstract: There are many ways to associate a spectrum of numbers to a surface: two of the most classically studied are the eigenvalues of the Laplacian and the lengths of closed geodesics. People often ask whether two different surfaces can have the same spectrum of numbers, and there's a long and beautiful story attached to that question. Here's a twist on the setup: now consider a polygon in the plane, and label its sides with letters. Follow a billiard ball trajectory around the surface and record the "bounce sequence," or the sequence of labels hit by the ball as it moves. Is it possible for two different billiard tables to have all the same bounces?

Special Colloquium: Tuesday September 26, 4-5pm, JWB 335:
Speaker: David Higdon, Virginia Tech
Title: A small, biased sample of experiences involving statistical modeling and big data
Abstract: Statistical modeling is the art of combining mathematical/probabilistic models and data to infer about some real-life system. The structure, volume and diversity of modern data sources brings out a number of computational challenges in applying statistical modeling to such data. This talk will cover three different examples that grapple with big data and computational issues in statistical inference: computer model calibration for cosmological inference; response surface/regression modeling in big data settings; combining varieties of automatically collected data to better manage a supply chain of a large industrial corporation. A bit more technical detail will be given for the first example in cosmology where observations are combined with computational model runs carried out at different levels of resolution to infer about parameters in the standard model. The other two applications will be discussed from a broader perspective, motivating thoughts regarding commonalities and differences in these different strategies for big data analytics.

November 9:
Speaker: Benedek Valko, University of Wisconsin
Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

November 30: Math/CSME Colloquium
Speaker: Natasha Speer, The University of Maine
Title: TBA
Abstract: TBA

Spring 2018