Dear Mathematics, Computer Science, and Mathematical Economics majors and minors

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August 26, 2015

Dear Mathematics, Computer Science, and Mathematical Economics majors and minors,

On behalf of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, welcome back for another challenging, rewarding, and fun year of classwork, research, and terrible jokes. This letter provides an overview of our faculty and staff, and reminds you about upcoming events and graduation requirements.

We will have our traditional Welcome Back event in the second week of Block 1: come eat pizza and listen to each faculty member in the department give a brief description of his or her research interests. We’ll have an ice cream social immediately afterwards.


Lunch, Fearless Friday, and Ice Cream Social

Second Friday of Block 1 at 12 pm

(ice cream social will start at approx 1 pm)


Our New Paraprofessionals:

We are very excited to have two new paraprofessionals this year: Gautam Webb and Trevor Barron. Gautam graduated from CC last year with a major in Mathematics, and Trevor graduated two years ago with a major in Computer Science. In addition to supporting lower-level courses, Gautam and Trevor are great mentors for our majors. They know what it takes to be successful in your courses, and can give you a preview of what is to come. They will also keep you tuned in to the many educational and social activities going on for students in the department. If you are interested in working as a homework grader, please let them know. If you don’t already know Gautam and Trevor, drop by TSC 209 and introduce yourself.

Our Faculty:

We are excited to welcome two new full-year visiting faculty: Molly Moran and Ahyoung Lee. Molly graduated from CC in 2009, and finished her PhD at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, last year. Molly’s research area is geometric group theory, which draws on techniques from algebra, geometry, and topology. For anyone who is thinking about graduate school in mathematics, Molly is a terrific person to talk to. Ahyoung graduated from Hansung University (Seoul, Korea) in 2001, and finished her PhD at CU Denver in 2011. She spent the past two years as a postdoctoral researcher at Georgia Tech. Ahyoung conducts research on computer networking, particularly on adaptive algorithms for optimizing traffic flow. This is a very hot topic in computer science these days, and we are lucky to have an expert in the field joining us. If you are interested in the past, present, and future of computer networking, don’t miss the chance to chat with Ahyoung!

We are very pleased to have visiting faculty Michael Penn and Rodney James joining us again this year and welcome Stefan Erickson back from his sabbatical. Meanwhile, Mike Siddoway is still over in Armstrong Hall serving the college as Associate Dean of the faculty. Amelia Taylor is on leave for the year, and Matthew Whitehead is on sabbatical for the fall semester. We’ll just have to muddle along without them.

We have an exciting line-up of block visitors this year. All of these visitors are experts in their fields and bring fresh perspectives to our department. Please welcome them when they are here. Andy Glen is an expert in probability, modeling, and operations research; he will be teaching MA117, MA217, and MA313. Gonzalo Aranda-Pino is a top-notch algebraist from Spain, who will be visiting in block 2 to teach MA129. John Watkins is a CC professor emeritus with broad interests in graph theory, combinatorics, and mathematical puzzles; he will be teaching MA325 in block 3. Robin Wilson is a pre-eminent English historian of mathematics, graph theorist, and frequent visitor to our department; we are lucky to have him teaching MA408 in block 7. Finally, Glen van Brummelen will be visiting from Quest University (another block plan school!) in block 8 to teach MA240, a special topics course in spherical geometry. While not primarily aimed at math majors, this course would be terrific for anyone considering teaching K-12 mathematics.

It is business as usual for the rest of us in the department: - Marlow Anderson, David Brown (department chair), Andrea Bruder, Stefan Erickson, Steven Janke, Jane McDougall, Fred Tinsley, and Ben Ylvisaker. This year, we are going to be conducting a national search for a third tenure-track computer scientist to join the department. Please be on the lookout for invitations to attend talks and meet with candidates in blocks 5 and 6. We really value student input into our hiring decisions.

Amy Pacheco, our technical director, will continue to help us with any problems arising with technology and to think about creative ways to use technology in and out of the classroom. Marita Beckert, our staff assistant, will continue to be there to help us with everything necessary for the department to run smoothly. Please let them know how much you appreciate their hard work!

Now for some helpful reminders…

The “Capstone Experience” Requirement

The capstone experience requirement is a crowning course or activity that mathematics and computer science majors pursue in their senior year. The capstone experience is a graduation requirement of all students who have declared a major in mathematics or computer science. The specific requirements vary between the two majors. Here is a brief overview, for details see the course catalog or check with your advisor.

Mathematics: There are two different ways to fulfill the requirement:

  • MA408 – History of Mathematics taken as a senior (Wilson– block 7)

Caution juniors: Do not take MA408 as a junior unless you are absolutely sure that you wish to complete the thesis option as your capstone activity when you are a senior.

  • A project concluding with a thesis and seminar during block 7. Juniors must submit three brief thesis proposals in the spring. Seniors must enroll in one block of MA499. For more information about the thesis, please consult the department web page or any faculty. Note that math majors pursuing distinction must select this capstone option.

Computer Science: All CS majors must complete a senior project, and take CP499 during the senior year. Juniors must submit three brief thesis proposals in the spring. Again, for more information about the project, please consult the department web page or any faculty

Fearless Friday Talks:

Our departmental seminar series includes presentations each Friday, except for block breaks. Some talks are given by our faculty, some by students, and some by visitors. We rate each talk (G to XXX) to give you an idea of its level of difficulty. You can always learn something interesting at our talks, even from those that eventually move on to more technical material. The talks will often introduce you to topics not normally studied in our regular courses.

We will schedule a student-oriented talk on the second Friday of each block at noon in TSC122 (with pizza). These talks should stir your interest in new topics and will often bridge different areas of mathematics and computer science. Talks that are more research-level are held on the other Fridays at 2:30 pm in TSC229; students are always welcome.

All Mathematics majors and Computer Science majors are required to attend at least 4 seminars and submit a written one or two-page summary in Canvas within two weeks of the seminar. This is a graduation requirement, and we do enforce it. Needless to say, we hope you will attend many more than four seminars over your four years at CC! Talk write-ups are submitted through Canvas. You all have access to our new Canvas resources page “Resources for Math and CS majors” and each talk appears there as an assignment. We also have suggestions/requirements for completing your write-ups. Check it out.

Associate Chair Stefan Erickson will be overseeing the review process to see that your write-ups are suitable – please don’t hesitate to ask him if you have any questions. Reminder: All summaries should be completed by the end of block 7 of your senior year. You can reduce your senior year stress by starting early. Really, trust us, you want to do this early!

Pizza Problems and Other Events:

As you may know, we pose (and post) a Pizza Problem each block. The earliest correct solution earns a pizza. Watch for both mathematical and computer science problems posted each block on one of our several bulletin boards as well as the department website.

Expect a number of social events to be organized by Trevor and Gautam; in the past these have included games nights and bowling. Also watch out for the holiday party and spring picnic, dates TBA.

Tutors and Graders:

The department hires graders for many of our courses, and the QRC hires tutors and learning assistants. If you would like to try your hand at these rewarding jobs, please contact Trevor, Gautam, or the QRC director, Steve Getty. This work is essential to guiding many of our students through their courses, and this is an opportunity for you as tutors and graders to gain a deeper understanding of the material as well.

Math/CS Email List:

Throughout the year, we will contact you about seminars, schedule changes, parties, picnics and other math/cs related activities. Most of the announcements go out by e-mail, so make sure you are on our list – check with Gautam and Trevor.
Please don’t hesitate to email me or drop by my office (TSC206E) if you have any questions about the opportunities and requirements I have mentioned, or if you just want to chat. Have a wonderful year!

David Brown, Chair

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