Academic Year 2017  2018
Spring 2018
Cool Mathematics
Abstract: I will in fact talk about some unsolved, or recently solved, problems in Mathematics. The main purpose of the meeting, however, will be to organize the Undergraduate Colloquium for those interested in taking it for credit (1 hour credit/no credit). For many participants this will be the first class in which they have to write a technical report. This is a complicated yet gratifying task. I will discuss some of the issues involved and also give a first introduction to the use of LaTeX.
What's the deal with being a high school teacher?
Abstract: Are you thinking about maybe teaching middle or high school math someday? Maybe as a career or even as a bridge to graduate school or some other career? Perhaps you’ve thought about it as a profession after you retire from something more lucrative? There is a shortage of math teachers in Utah (and across the country); teaching is incredibly rewarding, but also challenging because there is a lot to know to be successful in a classroom. This colloquium will focus on three questions: 1) What is mathematical knowledge for teaching? 2) What’s in the “Common Core”? and, 3) What are the paths into teaching secondary math?
Tim Jones, Ph.D.
The Joy of Teaching Kids Math
Abstract: My career has taken me from particle physics at CERN to defense work at Lockheed Martin to start ups in Silicon Valley. I have worked with tremendous people on some amazing projects – but nothing has been more rewarding to me than the past decade I have spent teaching math to secondary kids (7^{ }– 12). When we teach math at our school, we teach kids that math is hard – it is not builtin and requires a significant effort on the part of the student to learn math. We teach kids how to do math – that it is not guesswork. Math, to us, is a language – a language that is used to communicate ideas and to communicate logical reasoning. Not surprisingly, our algebra standards are therefore quite high. We do not use gimmicks to teach math – we do not need to. Students get the same intrinsic rewards as scientists, engineers, and mathematicians when they can do math – when they can solve problems. When students are taught at a level that is appropriate to them as an individual, they can learn math efficiently. All students – independent of socioeconomic background can be successful – when given a chance. Teaching math requires teachers that have a drive to change the world – a willingness to invest in kids – a willingness to do the right thing. Math teachers, however, must be smart in math. Not x + 3 = 5 smart, but Fourier Series smart.
If you would like to talk to Tim about trying out teaching, you can contact him at tjones@apamail.org
Sequences and Differential Equation
Abstract: You learned arithmetic sequences and geometric sequence in an elementary algebra class. In this talk, I will talk about another type of sequence which is little bit more complex than arithmetic/geometric sequences. We will find its nth term by solving a corresponding differential equation. That means we will use differentiation, integration, taylor expansion, linear differential equation etc, to understand the sequence.
Fall 2017
No Talk  First Week of Classes
Cool Mathematics
Abstract: I will in fact talk about some unsolved, or recently solved, problems in Mathematics. The main purpose of the meeting, however, will be to organize the Undergraduate Colloquium for those interested in taking it for credit (1 hour credit/no credit). For many participants this will be the first class in which they have to write a technical report. This is a complicated yet gratifying task. I will discuss some of the issues involved and also give a first introduction to the use of LaTeX.
Hotel Infinity
Abstract: You are the owner of Hotel Infinity. It has infinitely many rooms, and it's full. A new guest arrives and insists you give her a room. How do you accommodate her? The next day, a family with infinitely many members arrives, each of whom wants a private room. The next day infinitely many families, each with infinitely many members, arrive. Each family member insists on a private room. You can do it! Infinity is different.
Panel of Faculty, Postdocs, and Graduate Students
Applying for and attending graduate school
Abstract: This weeks Undergraduate Colloquium will be aimed at helping undergraduates answer the following questions:

 Should I apply to graduate school?
 How do I apply to graduate school?
 What will it be like when I'm in graduate school?
Pseudorandom numbers: {mostly} a line {of code} at a time
Abstract: Random numbers have an amazing range of application in both theory and practice. Approximatelyrandom numbers generated on a computer are called pseudorandom. This talk discusses how one generates and tests such numbers, and shows how this study is related to important mathematics and statistics  the CentralLimit Theorem and the Χ2 measure  that have broad applications in many fields. Come and find out what the Birthday Paradox, Diehard batteries, gorillas, Euclid, French soldiers, a Persian mathematician, Prussian cavalry, and Queen Mary have to do with random numbers.
The Angel Problem and other Games of No Chance
Abstract: I'll discuss John Conway's "Angel Problem," a simple sounding game for two players (the angel and the devil). The game was introduced in 1982, and the problem of finding a winning strategy remained unsolved until 2005. We'll talk about several variants of the game, and how these can be solved. Finally, we'll discuss one or two other games that fall under the umbrella of combinatorial game theory.
Casey Johnson (Math Department Alumnus)
Student Opportunities at Department of Defense (with a little bit of math)
Abstract: We discuss at a high level a variety of securityrelated positions within the U.S. Government that may be of interest to mathematicians. This will include professional opportunities, as well as internships available to undergraduates. As time permits, we will turn our attention to several related algebra problems and show how they can be combined to construct a primitive computer.
Complex and Tropical Nullstellensatze
Abstract: If a system of linear equations has no common solution, then by eliminating variables, one can obtain 1 = 0 as a linear combination of the given equations. Hilbert’s Nullstellensatz or “zero set theorem” says that the same thing happens with polynomial equations provided that one allows for complex solutions (and polynomial combinations). In the world of tropical numbers we consider polynomial relations and then there is a result of the same nature. We’ll talk about this and also about why the Nullstellensatz is the foundation of Algebraic Geometry.
Big Data Employer Panel
Location  LCB Loft (4th floor)
Abstract: Want to know what it's really like to work in a job relating to math, data, and statistics? Do you have questions about what it takes to land a position in "the real world" or what classes you should focus on now for your future career success? Hear from former students and get your questions answered! Food and networking to follow the panel.
What can you do with a slide rule?
I'll describe how slide rules work, why they work, and what you can do with them. A typical slide rule has anywhere from ten to thirty scales, rather than just two, and there are thousands of mathematical expressions that you can evaluate just as easily as you can multiply or divide two numbers. On the other hand, you can't use a slide rule to add or subtract two numbers, and you need to understand your problem well enough to be able to figure out on your own the location of the decimal point in your answer.
You'll be able to examine several slide rules, and I'll tell you what's involved in being a slide rule collector.
Desargues's theorem
Abstract: Desargues's theorem, published in 1648, is a result in geometry about triangles in perspective. Desargues was one of the fathers of projective geometry, and his theorem is best understood in that setting. We'll talk about Desargue's theorem, projective space, and how to prove the theorem.
Representation Theory and the Hydrogen Atom
Abstract: This talk is an advertisement for a new course that will be running in Spring 2018 called Representation Theory Techniques in Quantum Physics. The course will tell the story of representation theory's predictive role in quantum mechanics by closely examining the most basic example: the hydrogen atom. This talk will start by examining the history of representation theory and exploring how representation theory found its way to the forefront of 20th century mathematics and physics. Then it will give a preview of the material that we will cover in Math 5750. The talk will assume a background in linear algebra, but no background in group theory or quantum mechanics is necessary.
No Talk  Happy Thanksgiving
There will be an optional meeting for any students enrolled in Math 3000 who want to talk about the required report due at the end of the semester.
Waves in strings
Abstract: In this talk, we will study the problem of a vibrating string. How does a wave propagate in a homogeneous string when the string is plucked? This is a standard problem in mechanics and it has a wellknown solution. So we will change some of the basic assumptions to turn it into a very challenging problem. First, we will see how the wave propagates when the string is made of two different materials. The key point is to understand what happens at the spaceinterface between the two materials. Then we will try to solve the following problem: what if the properties of the string suddenly change in time? In other words, what happens if a string made of a certain material, suddenly turns into a string made of another material? What happens at the timeinterface? How is the propagation of the wave affected by this timeinhomogeneity?
Why can you tune a guitar, but not a piano?
Abstract: Musicians rely on being able to tune their instruments to create music that sounds pleasing and harmonious. In this talk, we'll discuss the mathematics behind the music created by vibrating strings and how guitarists use these frequencies, called "harmonics," to get in tune. Exploring this topic further leads to a surprising and unsettling result: it is impossible to tune a piano! Once we prove this, I'll explain what strategy piano tuners use to get around it. Partial differential equations and boundary conditions will make an appearance, but no knowledge of differential equations or music is required.
Past Colloquia
(links to Fall 1999  Spring 2017)