Duke Math News - January 30, 1998

Notes from the DUS

Dear Mathematics Majors and Minors, I welcome you all to another exciting semester of learning, and I extend a special welcome to recently-declared math majors and minors. Currently there are 72 majors and 30 minors in mathematics. Please help spread the word to other students that a new version of linear algebra will be offered in fall semester 1998 by Professor Trangenstein. Linear Algebra with Scientific Computation (MTH 104C) will be similar to regular MTH 104, but it will emphasize matrix factorizations and include the programming of basic algorithms and the use of software packages. The new course will feature a computer laboratory in addition to regular class meetings. MTH 104C may be appropriate for prospective math majors and minors with a strong interest in the applications of mathematics and for students of science, engineering, and economics. Many of you are thinking about summer programs or courses at other universities and some of you will be abroad next year. Also, those who will be graduating this spring are seeking positions where you can put your math studies to good use. Below, I list some reminders that may be helpful to you.

-- Harold Layton


Research Experience for Undergraduates

The National Science Foundation sponsors Research Experiences for Undergraduates at a score of sites around the country. These 6 to 8 week programs offer a substantial stipend as they provide opportunities for students to do original research. More information is available at www.nsf.gov/mps/dms/reulist.htm and at www.math.harvard.edu/~mathclub/reu.

NSF Program in Utah

The Institute for Advanced Study with the support of the National Science Foundation will sponsor a program for undergraduates in Park City, Utah, from July 12 to August 1, 1998. The theme this summer will be representation theory of Lie groups. More information is available from Professor Robert Bryant bryant@math.duke.edu and from the Park City Math Institute web page http://www.ias.edu/park.htm.

Events and Contests

Math Team Scores Big in Virginia Tech Contest

Duke's prowess in basketball this year may be echoed by its domination of math competitions. On Saturday, November 1, 173 students from 32 colleges and universities throughout the southeast participated in the 19th annual Virginia Tech Regional Math Contest. Eight of the top 16 contestants were Duke students, including second, third and fourth place finishes by John Clyde '01, Andrew Dittmer '99 and Nathan Bronson '99. Christopher Beasley '99, Sarah Dean '00, John Hyde '99, Carl Miller '01, and Noam Shazeer '98 placed close behind. This is the best performance by Duke since their sweep of the first four places in 1993. The two-and-a-half hour Virginia Tech contest is considered to be a warm-up for the prestigious six-hour William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition. This competition was held on Saturday December 6, but the results will not be released until late March. Over 2000 of best undergraduates at 400 colleges and universities in the United States and Canada participate annually. Last year, the team of Dittmer, Robert Schneck '97, and Shazeer took first place in the Putnam, Duke's second championship in four years.

DUMU Plans High School Contest

The math union (DUMU) is planning to host a high school math contest the afternoon of Saturday, March 28. Schools from the surrounding area will come to campus to compete in small teams. The contest will be almost completely student run, which includes sending invitations, writing the problems and solutions, hosting the teams, and grading. Anyone who wants to help out is welcome. This includes suggestions for problems appropriate to students in pre-calculus and earlier math classes, help typing the contest, and hosts for the event itself. If you are interested, please contact Johanna Miller at jlm6@acpub.duke.edu.

Squeaky Clean Lecture

Dr. Frank Morgan, an expert on minimal surfaces, will give a lecture at Duke on February 11 on one of his favorite subjects: soap bubble geometry. He promises a guessing contest and prizes. The department will provide soap and water. Refreshments will be served at 5:00 in the Physics building lobby, and the lecture will take place at 5:15 in room 113. Morgan attended MIT and Princeton and has taught at MIT, Rice, Stanford, and the Institute for Advanced Study. Among his numerous awards are the Everett Moore Baker Award for excellence in undergraduate teaching, and an award from the MAA for distinguished teaching. Additionally, he has served on the Math Advisory Committee of the National Science Foundation, and writes a ``Math Chat'' column for the Christian Science Monitor. Some of his articles are available through his web page http://www.williams.edu/Mathematics/fmorgan.

Employment Opportunities

S.C. International Seeks Actuaries

S.C. International specializes in the staffing of actuarial personnel for all types of firms on national and international basis. They are often requested to locate entry level people for a variety of applications from research to programming to consulting. Opportunities lie in the areas of life, pension, health and property/casualty with insurance companies, consulting firms, and corporations. There is no fee to the students, only upside potential for success in locating the right position.

To contact S.C. International:

S.C. International, Ltd.
1430 Branding Lane, Suite 19
Downers Grove, IL 60515
phone: (800) 543-2553
fax: (630) 963-3170
e-mail: search@scinternational.com
web site: www.scinternational.com


Math Horizons Now Available

Several issues of the quarterly magazine Math Horizons are available first come first serve in room 121 Physics. This magazine offers advice about graduate work and job hunting as well as articles on mathematical problems and people. In the November issue, aspects of jury trial are modeled. The September issue features a math chat with Professor Frank Morgan who will demonstrate features of soap bubbles for the Undergraduate Math Lecture Series on Wednesday, February 11.

Department News

David Smith Honored by AAAS

Associate professor David A. Smith has been elected to the rank of fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Richard Nicholson, executive officer of the AAAS, commends Dr. Smith ``for outstanding leadership in the nation's calculus reform effort and for multiple contributions to the mathematics field and profession.''

On-line Curriculum

Dr. Lawrence Moore and Dr. David Smith, directors of Project CALC, have been awarded a grant by the National Science Foundation to continue development of online curriculum materials. The project aims to create interactive learning environments on the Internet for a variety of mathematical subjects. Details may be found at http://www.math.arizona.edu/ccp.

New Course on Fluid Dynamics

The department has recently approved a new course, Mathematical Fluid Dynamics (MTH 228), which will be offered in fall 1998 by Professor Andrea Bertozzi (she taught a similar course in 1996; see http://math.duke.edu/faculty/bertozzi/hydrodynamics.html). The course has a prerequisite of MTH 133 or 211 or an equivalent course.

MTH 228 will be an introduction to the properties and solutions of the Euler and Navier-Stokes equations, including particle trajectories, vorticity, conserved quantities, shear, deformation and rotation in two and three dimensions, the Biot-Savart law and singular integrals.

In Memory

David Schorr, 1908-1997

General David Schorr, an instructor in mathematics in our department from 1962 to 1969, died May 26, 1997 in Chapel Hill. Schorr was a graduate of Duke's special program to train retired military officers who were graduates of the service academies to become mathematics teachers in high schools and junior colleges. Schorr graduated from West Point in 1932. During World War II, he served with the 17th Airborne Division in the Battle of the Bulge and Operation Varsity. He retired from the army in 1960 as a brigadier general. He was born August 22, 1908 in Cincinnati. His wife Mary survives him, as do two children, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.

John Roberts, 1906-1997

John Henderson Roberts, died on Wednesday, October 8, 1997, at the age of 91 at the Carolina Meadows Health Center. Dr. Roberts had a long and distinguished career as a member of the Duke Mathematics Department, joining the faculty at Duke in 1931 and continuing until he retired in 1971. During his 40 years at Duke he had 24 Ph.D. students, was chairman of the department from 1966 to 1968, and served as director of graduate studies from 1948 to 1960. He was a managing editor of the Duke Mathematical Journal from 1950 to 1959, and was Secretary of the AMS in 1954. During World War II he served as a lieutenant commander in the Navy and, following active duty, he formed a naval volunteer research reserve unit at Duke to devise defenses against atomic warfare.

In 1929, at the age of 23, he received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas under the supervision of R. L. Moore. Roberts' specialty was point-set topology, and he published a total of 39 papers, mostly in continuum theory and dimension theory.

You have probably heard about the absent-minded professor. On the night before he planned to return the graded Math 111 tests, Roberts' wife gave him a letter to mail. With graded papers in one hand and letter in the other, he went to the post office and then to class. Just as he walked into the classroom, a student confronted him with the familiar ``Dr. Roberts, have you graded our papers yet?'' Before Roberts could say ``yes,'' he realized to his dismay that he had mailed the tests and still had the letter in his hand.

Dr. Roberts and his wife were always very kind to new faculty members and graduate students. Their frequent Saturday night parties were greatly appreciated by all. He will long be remembered by his colleagues as a remarkable mathematician and by his Ph.D. students as an unselfish and inspiring thesis advisor.

Roberts was born on September 2, 1906 in Raywood, Texas. He and Doretta von Boeckman were married in 1928. He is survived by his son John Edward, grandson George, and great-granddaughters Monica and Susan.

-- Richard Hodel

I advise my students to listen carefully the moment they decide to take no more mathematics courses. They might be able to hear the sound of closing doors.

--James Caballero

Problem Corner

Solutions from Last Issue

Solution 1:

One solution to the ten digit number problem is 6,210,001,000, which has six zeros, two ones, one two, and one 6. Are there any others?

Solution 2:

That way of defining multiplication only works when one of the terms is a natural number. The resulting squaring function is therefore discontinuous and can't be differentiated. So that phony proof is nonsense.

New Problems

Problems posed by Stephen Harke and Andrew Hetzel of the University of Dayton

Problem 1: A Long String of Composites

Find 131 consecutive, composite natural numbers.

Problem 2: Inscribed in a Parabola


Editor: Garrett Mitchener... wgm2@acpub.duke.edu

Faculty Sponsor: David Kraines... dkrain@math.duke.edu

Department of Mathematics
Box 90320
Durham, NC 27708-0320