Undergraduate Colloquium Fall 2008

Thursdays 4:00pm, Baskin 301A
There will be refreshments served at 3:45p.
For further information, please contact Frank Bauerle, bauerle@ucsc.edu.

October 1, 2008

Games Night - Richochet Robots

Dr. Frank Bauerle 

This week we will be playing Ricochet Robots. The premise is as follows: four robots are scattered about a warehouse floor. There's only one problem: they have no brakes. Players must try to find a way to get one of the robots to a target location using walls and other robots as obstacles. Whoever can come up with the shortest solution wins a point. This game can literally be played by as many people as can crowd around the board!

October 8, 2008

Games Night - Settlers of Catan

Dr. Frank Bauerle 

This week we will be playing Settlers of Catan, a multiplayer board game designed by Klaus Teuber. It was first published in 1995 in Germany by Franckh-Kosmos Verlags-GmbH & Co. (Kosmos) under the name Die Siedler von Catan. Briefly, The players in the game represent the eponymous settlers, establishing a colony on the previously uninhabited island of Catan. The island itself is laid out randomly at the beginning of each game from hexagonal tiles ("hexes") of different land types. Numbered tokens are then placed on each of the tiles, except for one desert hex.

October 15, 2008

Cal Teach and the Math Major

Cara Aguirre, Cal Teach Mathematics Placement Coordinator and Andrea Gilovich, Mathematics Department Undergraduate Program Advisor 

Do you have an interest in teaching as a career? If so, come find out how the Cal Teach program can help you explore teaching as a career, while at the same time possibly satisfying some of your degree requirements. Cal Teach offers internships, advising, professional development, and teaching resources for math, science, and engineering majors who are interested in teaching at the middle or high school levels. All aspects of the program will be discussed as well as how the Cal Teach internships can possibly satisfy math degree requirements and education minor requirements. Fellow math majors currently participating with the Cal Teach program will also be present to answer your questions.

October 22, 2008

The N body problem

Dr. Richard Montgomery, Professor UCSC Mathematics

I will start with a tour of solutions to the problem and some history. Even the '3 body problem' is actually a great many problems. I will state at least a few of these, one open since Newton's time. I will probably end up by describing a few contributions towards understanding 'the problem' that I've made with my collaborations, what our inspirations were, and the geometric, analytic, and group theoretic ideas which underlay our proofs and constructions.

October 30, 2008

Games Night

Dr. Frank Bauerle, Lecturer, UCSC Mathematics Department

This Thursday at 4:00, we will be hosting Games Night, where we will be playing variety of Games, exploring new and different strategies. A few examples of some we may choose from are: Settler's of Catan, Ricochet Robots, Quoridor, and Set. Hope to see you there for a little friendly competition!

November 6, 2008

In defense of the Spherical Cow

Professor Debra Lewis, UCSC Mathematics

A classic mathematician joke runs as follows: Two men are riding in a hot air balloon. They drift through heavy cloud cover for hours, becoming utterly lost. When the clouds lift, they see they are approaching a man standing on a tall hill. One of the balloonist shouts "Hey, down there! Where are we?" The man remains silent as the balloon drifts on. Finally, as the balloon passes out of sight, the man on the ground shouts: "You're in a balloon!" "@&%$ mathematicians!" snarls one of the balloonists. "How do you know he was a mathematician?" asks his companion. "He took a very long time to give us an answer, and what he finally told us was perfectly correct and completely useless." How do applied mathematicians develop models that are realistic enough to be useful, but simple enough to be (at least partially) solved efficiently? How can they communicate effectively with scientists in other disciplines and identify the 'real' questions? (The web page I cut and pasted the joke from gave the question as "Can you tell us where we are?"; the correct joke mathematician's response would be "Yes.") I will discuss some of the challenges of applied mathematics and sketch some possible strategies for modeling a well-known biomechanical system.

November 20, 2008

Strange Geometries

Stanley Bishop, Mathematics Undergraduate, UCSC

"There is geometry in the humming of the strings, there is music in the spacing of the spheres." - Pythagoras of Samos

It has been over 2,500 years since the spheres played their tune for Pythagoras, yet those of us who continue to listen are still hearing new verses. Today Geometry is used to study everything from the stock market to black holes. In this talk we will examine the history of our ever expanding notion of what a space is...tracing a path that starts with lines and triangles and winds its way through fractals, curved space-time and quantum plane. The discussion will involve some sophisticated concepts, but will refrain from being overly technical.