Student-Centered Conference Showcasing Math in Unexpected Places

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
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For the past 25 years, Rose-Hulman’s Undergraduate Mathematics Conference has featured scholarly work by undergraduate mathematics and statistics students, professional mathematicians and scientists.

The role mathematics plays in people’s everyday lives will be the focus of presentations at Rose-Hulman’s Undergraduate Mathematics Conference on campus Friday and Saturday, April 20-21.

Now in its 35th year, the conference has a tradition of highlighting scholarly work by undergraduate mathematics and statistics students, along with professional mathematicians and scientists. Nearly 140 students and faculty from 17 colleges and universities will participate in three invited presentations, 34 student talks, and three two-hour short courses.

“Mathematics in Unexpected Places” is the theme of this year’s conference.

“We wanted to highlight that mathematics and statistics are often being used behind the scenes to address questions of interest,” says conference organizing committee member Eric Reyes, assistant professor of mathematics.

One of the invited talks will feature Hilary Parker, a data scientist at Stitch Fix, the first fashion retailer to blend expert styling and proprietary technology – with lots of mathematical modeling in between – to provide a personalized shopping experience. A style profile allows the company’s personal stylists to handpick five clothing items and accessories unique to a person’s taste, budget and lifestyle. The customer buys what they like and returns the rest.

Parker, who earned a doctorate in biostatistics, also is co-founder of the “Not So Standard Deviations” podcast. She focuses on experimentation and responsibility in analysis development methods.

Lawrence D. Stone, chief scientist at Metron, will discuss how mathematics’ Bayesian search theory has been used to find missing aircraft, ships lost at sea or people missing on land. He led a team that used probability techniques to help the French government locate the underwater wreckage of Air France Flight AF447. The Bayesian theory has also assisted searches for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH 370 and the U.S. nuclear submarine Scorpion. Stone continues to work on a number of detection and tracking systems for the U.S. Navy and co-authored the 2016 book “Optimal Search for Moving Targets.”

Also, Tanya Leise will discuss aspects of her work with colleagues in neuroscience and biology on the physiological mechanism of the circadian clock at the cellular and tissue levels in a variety of organisms. Her most recent research has centered on mice, fruit flies and brown bears. Leise is a former Rose-Hulman math professor who is now chair of Amherst College’s Department of Mathematics.

The following Rose-Hulman students will be making presentations on a variety of topics:

  • Joshua Arroyo, junior engineering physics and mathematics major, “A Proof of the ‘Magicness’ of the Siam Construction of a Magic Square”

  • Ariel Bohner, junior biology and biomathematics major, “Redefining the Biomass Growth Equation in the FBA Model”

  • Casey Garner, junior mathematics and computational science major, “Reclassification of Protein Families through Uncertain Data Envelopment Analysis”

  • Adam Gastineau, senior computer science and mathematics major, “TSP Meta-Learning Using Deep Neural Networks”

  • Yuanqi Li, senior mathematics and computer science major, “Definability in Expansions by a Generalized Cantor Set”

  • Bochuan Lyu, junior mathematics major, “Bootstrap-based Non-parametric ANOVA”

  • Evelyne Maquelin, junior computer science major, “Using Dynamic Programming to Optimize Formula-Style Race Cars”

  • Lee Trent, junior mathematics major, “The Uniform Distribution of Farey Fractions”

  • Han Wei, senior mathematics major, “An Optimal Strategy for Simplified Yahtzee”

Other presentations will be made by students from Aquinas College (Mich.), DePauw University, University of Evansville, University of Illinois, Indiana University, IUPUI, University of North Georgia, Purdue University, University of St. Thomas (Minn.), Sienna Heights University (Mich.), Trinity International University (Ill.) and Westminster College (Mo.).

Short courses will cover the following topics: “Upping Your LaTex Game: Class Files, Scripting and Graphics,” by Tim All, assistant professor of mathematics at Rose-Hulman; “Introduction to Data Science,” by Mark Daniel Ward of Purdue; and “Making Euclidean Geometry More Complex,” by Peter G. Andrews of Eastern Illinois University.

Mathematics professors Kurt Bryan, Sylvia Carlisle and Joseph Eichholz joined Reyes in forming the organizing committee for this year’s conference, with assistance from Department of Mathematics Secretary Michelle Prather.

The conference is sponsored by Minitab, Maplesoft and Metron.