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.
- Information about summer opportunities, including application
forms, is being collected and organized in a notebook, which can
be examined in Room 217. Many of these opportunities have
imminent application deadlines.
- Also in Room 217, information is available about jobs for
which math majors and minors are qualified; this information
includes the recently published book 101 Careers in
- After matriculation at Duke, mathematics courses taken at
other colleges or universities, at home or abroad, must be
pre-approved by the DUS; this is a necessary (but not sufficient)
condition for the granting of course credit toward a mathematics
major or minor. For more information, see the Handbook for
Mathematics Majors and Minors.
- A broad range of information about our department and its
programs, including the online version of the Handbook for
Mathematics Majors and Minors is available on the department's
web site at
- I welcome comments, criticisms, and suggestions about Duke's
undergraduate program in mathematics; write to me
firstname.lastname@example.org) or make an appointment to
-- 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
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
email@example.com and from the Park City Math
Institute web page
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
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
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
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
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.
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.''
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
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;
The course has a prerequisite of MTH 133 or 211 or an equivalent
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
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
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
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.
Solutions from Last Issue
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
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.
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...
Faculty Sponsor: David Kraines...
Department of Mathematics
Durham, NC 27708-0320