Talks 2016

Mathematics of Soap Films

Blowing soap bubbles is fun, but have you ever wondered why bubbles are spherical? Why do bubbles pinch off in the first place? Soap films may seem simple, but soap film models have applications in mathematics, physics, and even in biology!

Prerequisites: 
Algebra and an appreciation for the beautiful geometries that arise
Professor: 
Likhit S Ganedi
Difficulty: 
Medium
Room: 
202
Size: 
40
Enrolled: 
10

Calculus Crash Course: Biology and Medicine

In this course, we will explore some fundamental concepts in
single-variable calculus by considering real-life problems
in biology and medicine. As we investigate these biological
problems, we will introduce and analyze relevant topics in
calculus and see how they can help us model and solve the
problems.

Prerequisites: 
Familiarity with basic functions. Precalculus would be helpful. Knowledge of calculus is not required; we will build the necessary machinery together.
Professor: 
Olivia Chu
Difficulty: 
Easy
Room: 
317
Size: 
40
Enrolled: 
17

Neural Nets: Are They Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Ever begun a Google search, only to find it predicting exactly what you were thinking of? Surprised when Facebook recognized your friend's face without you tagging them? Heard about the AI that recently defeated the World Champion in Go? If so, then you've likely come across neural networks, an important class of algorithms within machine learning/AI. This talk will introduce neural nets from scratch, prove some interesting mathematical results about them, and give you a whirlwind tour of what they can do - from translating languages, self-driving cars to predicting cancer in patients.

Prerequisites: 
High-school level calculus would be helpful, but not necessary (specifically differentiation, first and second derivative tests for finding extrema of a function); basic algebra. Knowledge about vectors & matrices will be helpful, but I will introduce them at the beginning of the talk. If you're keen to learn about algorithms and artificial intelligence, or if you've ever been curious about whether we can teach machines to learn like humans, then this talk is for you!
Professor: 
Shivam Verma
Difficulty: 
Medium
Room: 
317
Size: 
40
Enrolled: 
12

Mathematics and Music: A Common Pursuit

While mathematics and music are now seen as divorced, with math belonging to the left brain and music to the right, the two disciplines were actually developed and taught jointly for many centuries until extraneous factors forced them apart in the Renaissance.

Prerequisites: 
Some basic knowledge of trigonometric functions (sine mostly) is convenient but not necessary. Calculus will be referenced but not applied, so no prior knowledge needed. Knowledge of Western music theory is also convenient, but by no means necessary: enthusiasm is more important.
Professor: 
Vishnu Bachani
Difficulty: 
Easy
Room: 
202
Size: 
40
Enrolled: 
33

It's a wavy world: wind, water, and quantum mechanics

Waves are everywhere, from ripples in a pond to the "boom" of supersonic aircraft to even the motion of fundamental particles. Waves in water are ubiquitous yet surprisingly complicated, and we will give a flavor of how they are described mathematically. Similar mathematical tools can be used to describe the wave-like behavior of electrons, which lies at the heart of the "weirdness" of quantum mechanics. We'll talk about some of the basic formulas that link these waves together, and also about what sets them apart.

Prerequisites: 
Trigonometry
Professor: 
Miles Wheeler
Difficulty: 
Easy
Room: 
201
Size: 
40
Enrolled: 
8

Fundamental building blocks of nature

This talk is an introduction to the Standard model of fundamental particles and forces in nature and theories beyond the Standard model. We will touch upon the attempts to extend the Standard model to the Grand Unified Theories (GUT) and beyond to string theory - the theory of everything.

Prerequisites: 
None
Professor: 
Dubravko Sabo
Difficulty: 
Easy
Room: 
102
Size: 
58
Enrolled: 
6

An Introduction to Communication Complexity

Imagine you and a friend each have a database, and are trying to figure out if the two are equal. The catch is that the two of you are far away from each other, and communicating is expensive. So it is too expensive for you to just send the contents of your database to your friend for her to check. Surprisingly there is a way to solve this problem by just sending each other an integer from 1 through 8, no matter how large the databases are!

Prerequisites: 
Some knowledge of basic probability would be helpful
Professor: 
Shravas Rao
Difficulty: 
Difficult
Room: 
109
Size: 
190
Enrolled: 
14

Intro to Spatial Economics

About 3.5 billion people - 50\% of the world population - currently live in urban areas. This is a lot more than the roughly 1 billion that chose to dwell in cities in 1950 (30% of the population), but considerably less than the 6 billion (68%) the United Nations project will inhabit cities by mid-century. Why is that? What's so special about cities?

Prerequisites: 
Calculus is not required, but an elementary knowledge of it will help you get the most out of this class.
Professor: 
Gian Luca Clementi
Difficulty: 
Medium
Room: 
102
Size: 
58
Enrolled: 
13

Mathematics on Supercomputers

Some science problems are so challenging that they require massive parallel computers, so-called supercomputers for their solution. I will explain what these computers are all about, what they can be used for and why it it necessary to rethink mathematical algorithms when we use them.

Prerequisites: 
You should have some very basic knowledge about computers, and be interested in learning about some really large and challenging computational science problems.
Professor: 
Georg Stadler
Difficulty: 
Medium
Room: 
102
Size: 
58
Enrolled: 
20

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