Santa Clara University

Mathematics and Computer Science department

Colloquium Series

Spring 2013

Unless otherwise noted, talks will be at 3:50 PM in Alumni Science 120.  Also, there will be refreshments before each talk in O'Connor 31 at 3:30 PM.

Tuesday, April 15th


Speaker:  Natalie Linnell and Silvia Figueira, Santa Clara University

Title: Technology for Good:  Frugal Innovation and Apps for the Homeless

Abstract:   Technology has transformed the way the average American lives, and there’s no reason that technology can’t also have a positive impact on the lives of underserved populations around the globe.  In this talk, we’ll discuss the work of the Frugal Innovation lab here at Santa Clara University, which engages Santa Clara students in creating new technologies to serve these populations.  In addition to giving an overview of the lab’s recent activities, we will discuss in-depth the Streetconnect project.  Streetconnect is a text-message broadcast service designed to connect the homeless of our local area with NGOs (non-governmental organizations) who provide services to them.  This is a non-technical talk, accessible to all (especially students!)


Tuesday, April 22nd


Speaker:  Viktor Ginzburg, University of California at Santa Cruz

Title:  Periodic Orbits of Hamiltonian Systems

Abstract:  Since the time of Newton, periodic orbits have played a central role
in the study of dynamical systems.  In general, Hamiltonian systems
meeting certain simple natural requirements tend to have an abundance
of periodic orbits. However, proving their existence is often a highly
non-trivial task leading to new insights (e.g., the Arnold conjecture
and the Weinstein conjecture) and requiring new methods (e.g., the Floer
homology) of interest and importance to many areas of mathematics. In
this non-technical talk we will focus on the existence problem for periodic orbits
in the context of symplectic geometry and discuss some of the recent
results and conjectures.  


Tuesday, April 29th


Speaker:  Joseph Gubeladze, San Francisco State University

Title: Normal polytopes


Examples of polytopes are polygons, Platonic solids, more general shapes and their higher dimensional analogs. A polytope is called lattice if its vertices have integer coordinates, and a lattice polytope is called normal if it satisfies a very natural and simple arithmetic condition, making the discrete set of integer points in the polytope a correct analogue of a continuous polytope. Many conjectures have been proposed on succinct  geometric characterizations of the normality property - all of them disproved in the late 1990-s and early 2000-s. Normal polytopes are building blocks for toric varieties, but we will not talk on toric algebraic geometry. In the talk we will survey the previous work on counterexamples by Aguzzoli, Bouvier, Bruns, Gonzalez-Sprinberg, Henk, Martin, Mundici, Weismantel, and the speaker. Then, time permitting, we will describe new challenges in normal polytopes, inspired by a new topological approach, partly implicit in the previous work and a subject of considerable interest in itself. The talk assumes no background, except some familiarity with linear algebra, and it should be understandable to advanced undergraduates.

Tuesday, May 6th

Speaker: Eric Madia, esurance



Tuesday,  May 27th


Speaker:  Eric Hsu, San Francisco State University





Tuesday, June 3rd













   --- WINTER QUARTER 2014 ---

Tuesday, January 21st


Speaker: Slobodan Simić, San Jose State University

Title:  A dictionary of chaos

Abstract:  The term "chaos" has been part of popular culture at least since Spielberg’s Jurassic Park, but in the field of mathematics called dynamical systems, chaos has been studied for over a century. In this expository talk aimed at beginning graduate and advanced undergraduate students, I will describe a basic "dictionary" of chaos, mostly through examples, and give an overall feel for what current research in dynamical systems is like.


 Tuesday, February 4th

Speaker: Anthony Bak, Ayasdi

Title:  Topological Data Analysis and Big Data


Abstract:  I will discuss how Ayasdi uses Topological Data Analysis to
solve complex problems. We'll start with an overview of TDA and
describe the core algorithm, "Mapper".  We'll end with a demonstration
of how we how this is used to solve real world problems.  The talk
should be understandable by mathematics and computer science

Tuesday,  February 25th


Speaker: Ellen Veomett, Saint Mary's College


Title:  Coloring Geometrically Defined Graphs


Abstract:  This talk will take us through a journey of graph coloring.  We'll start with some basic definitions and the well-known four and five color theorems.  We'll also discuss the fascinating question of the chromatic number of the plane.  Finally, we'll talk about new results on box graphs, which are graphs defined using blocks and their intersections.  This talk will be extremely accessible, while at the same time including some modern research topics.


Tuesday, March 4th



Speaker:  Sara Malec, University of the Pacific


Title: On the Intersection Algebra of Ideals


Abstract:The intersection algebra of two ideals in a ring is an object that encodes information about the intersections of powers of both ideals. These algebras have many interesting properties, and in certain cases they are finitely generated. The proof of this fact relies heavily on semigroup theory, specifically semigroups coming from pointed rational cones. In my talk, I will introduce the necessary concepts from the theory of semigroups, and use them to present several important facts about these algebras. 


Tuesday, March 11th


Speaker:  Sayanti Banerjee, Santa Clara University


Title:  The Dynamics of Puberty

*** A Pi Mu Epsilon Sponsored Event


Abstract:  We all experience puberty, yet biologically it remains very puzzling: no one knows how puberty gets started. Identifying the mechanisms underlying the onset of puberty is a critical issue given the earlier onset of puberty in girls and boys in the past century, a change that has broad implications on the health and well-being of young men and women. A big part of the answer is a change in activity of a particular group of neurons (nerve cells). I will discuss what is known about the biological basis of puberty and describe how mathematical models can help us gain insights into possible mechanisms of puberty.



If you have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation,
please call/email Rick Scott 408-554-4460/rscott at scu dot edu (or
use 1-800-735-2929 TTY—California Relay).

Abstracts of previous talks are available here.
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