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Invited Addresses

The following list of MAA MathFest 2020 Invited Address Speakers is updated as information becomes available. Please continue checking here in the weeks ahead for further information, details, and updates.

Note: All presentations except Student Activity Speaker will be in Grand Ballroom Salon G & H of the Marriot Philadelphia Downtown

Earle Raymond Hedrick Lecture Series

Lecture 1: Thursday July 30, 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H
Lecture 2: Friday, July 31, 10:20 a.m. - 11:10 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H
Lecture 3: Saturday, Aug 1, 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a..m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Lecture Title and Abstract TBA

Jordan Ellenberg, University of Wisconsin-Madison


MAA Invited Address

Lecture Title and Abstract TBA

Thursday, July 30, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Sommer Gentry, US Naval Academy


MAA Invited Address

Increasing the Rate of Change: The Impact of Broadening the Visibility of Mathematicians of Color

Friday, July 31, 11:20 a.m. - 12:10 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Candice Price, University of San Diego


African Americans, American Indians/Alaska Natives, and Latinx-- who have historically comprised a minority of the U.S. population-- are growing in size and influence. Currently, while constituting 30 percent of the U.S. population, by 2050, these groups together will account for greater than 40 percent of the U.S. population. Yet, these groups are largely underrepresented in the STEM fields---especially mathematics. Lately, there has been a growing discussion around the issue of the lack of diversity in STEM and its effect on the growth and innovation needed in these disciplines to solve the most complex issues humanity faces. I believe one reason people of color are underrepresented in STEM is that students of color rarely see themselves reflected in the STEM community. My service mission is to support those underrepresented in STEM by creating and supporting programs that increase visibility and amplify the voices of women and people of color in STEM while creating networks and community in STEM to provide opportunities to share resources. In this talk, I will describe my path in mathematics through an exploration of my involvement in programs that are working towards broadening the visibility of mathematicians of color.


Candice Renee Price is an African-American mathematician and assistant professor at Smith College. Born and raised in California, Candice has a bachelor’s degree (2003) in Mathematics from California State University, Chico and a master's degree (2007) from San Francisco State University. She earned her doctoral degree (2012) in mathematics from the University of Iowa under the advisement of Isabel Darcy. Her main area of mathematical research is DNA topology, that is, knot theory applied to the structure of DNA but has interests in applications of mathematics to Biology and the Social Sciences. Candice is an advocate for greater representation of women and people of color in the STEM fields.


MAA Invited Address

Lecture Title and Abstract TBA

Saturday, August 1, 11:00 a.m. - 11:50 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Po-Shen Loh, Carnegie Melon University


AMS-MAA Joint Invited Lecture

Eigenvalues and Graphs

Thursday, July 29, 10:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Steven Butler, Iowa University


One way to store information about a graph is by an array with entries indexed by pairs of vertices with each entry giving information about a relationship between the pair. The linear algebraist in us would say, ``let's change our names and instead of calling it an array, let us call it a matrix, which is an array with benefits''. Among these benefits are the eigenvalues and singular values of the matrix. The eigenvalues give information about the linear transformation to which the matrix corresponds, and this can capture some structural properties of the graph (often with just knowing a few of the extremal eigenvalues). This provides a way to obtain information about a graph with just a handful of parameters. We will explore several different possible matrices and look at some of the information that we can, and in some cases cannot, learn by studying the eigenvalues.


SIAM-MAA Joint Invited Lecture

Data Skills for the Mathematical Sciences

Friday July 31, 1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Chad Topaz, Williams College


Data acquisition, exploration, analysis, modeling, and visualization have become central to the mathematical sciences. The importance of data has been emphasized at the highest levels of our profession, including in reports from the National Academy of Sciences, the Mathematical Association of America, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Statistical Association. However, the fusion of data skills with core parts of the mathematical sciences curriculum has yet to be fully realized. This talk discusses the importance of data skills and presents pathways for incorporating them into undergraduate mathematical sciences education. One pathway is through the classroom. I will present selected examples from courses in linear algebra, differential equations, mathematical modeling, and even calculus, including signal processing, dynamical systems, abstract art, and an interactive activity on multivariable quadrature motivated by environmental science. A second pathway is through undergraduate research. I will showcase data-intensive student projects that apply mathematics to collective motion in biology and to social justice. Finally, I will mention resources for instructors who themselves want to grow their data skills.


Chan Stanek Lecture for Students

Stories About How I Got Where I Am Today

Thursday, July 29, 1:30 p.m. - 2:20 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Erica Flapan, Pomona College


I will talk about my life, from elementary school to becoming the Editor in Chief of the Notices of the American Mathematical Society. While my history is quite different from that of most mathematicians, I hope that hearing stories about my trials and tribulations can inspire young mathematicians facing their own trials and tribulations to keep at it as I did and become mathematicians who can then tell their own stories to the next generation of young mathematicians. This talk will include a little bit of knot theory, a little bit of spatial graph theory, a little bit of chemistry, and a little bit of humor. But mostly, it will just be stories.


Pi Mu Epsilon J. Sutherland Frame Lecture

Arithmetic and Digits

Wednesday, July 29, 8:00 p.m. - 8:50 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Florian Luca, University of Witwatersrand


In our recent paper in the Monthly (October, 2019) with Pante Stănică, we looked at perfect squares which arise when concatenating two consecutive positive integers like 183184 = 4282 with the smaller number to the left, or 98029801 = 99012 with the larger number to the left. My talk will present variations on this topic with the aim of providing the audience with examples of numbers which are both arithmetically interesting (like perfect squares) while their digital representations obey some regular patterns. The examples will not be limited to perfect squares, but will also include other old friends like Fibonacci numbers and palindromes.


AWM-MAA Etta Zuber Falconer Lecture

Complex Functions, Mesh Generation, and Hidden Figures in the NIST Digital Library of Mathematical Functions

Thursday, July 30, 2:30 p..m. - 3:20 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Bonita V. Saunders, National Institute of Standards and Technology


In 2010, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) launched the Digital Library of Mathematical Functions (DLMF), a free online compendium of definitions, recurrence relations, differential equations, and other crucial information about mathematical functions useful to researchers working in application areas in the mathematical and physical sciences. Although the DLMF replaces the widely cited National Bureau of Standards (NBS) Handbook of Mathematical Functions commonly known as Abramowitz and Stegun (A&S), it is far beyond a book on the web, incorporating web tools and technologies for accessing, rendering, and searching math and graphics content. I will discuss some interesting historical tidbits, but then focus on past and present technical research challenges being tackled to develop the DLMF’s graphics content. The DLMF currently contains more than 600 2D and 3D figures, and over 200 interactive 3D web visualizations of high level mathematical function surfaces that users can explore.


NAM David Harold Blackwell Lecture

2020 Census, Lagrange's Identity, and Apportionment of the U.S. House of Representatives

Friday, July 31, 4:00 p.m. - 4:50 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Tommy Wright, U.S. Bureau of the Census


Given the impracticality of a pure democracy, the U.S. Constitution (1787) calls for a representative form of democracy where the people elect persons to represent them for governing. Each state gets a number of representatives in the U.S. House of Representatives "...according to their respective numbers..." as recorded in a census of the nation to be conducted every ten years starting in 1790. We make use of an elementary result known as Lagrange's Identity to provide a bridge between an insightful motivation and an elementary derivation of the method of equal proportions. The method of equal proportions is the current method for apportioning the 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives among the 50 states, following each decennial census. We highlight why the numbers from the census matter and affect our condition and behavior. We also present some historical comments about the first two methods of apportionment, as well as the method that preceded equal proportions.


Christine Darden Lecture

The Road to 2002 Sonic Boom Demonstrator

Saturday, August 1, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Christine Darden, Retired from NASA Langley Research Center


I will open the lecture with some explanation of my childhood, my elementary school education in a segregated school that taught no higher mathematics classes than Algebra and Plane Geometry, and my experience in Plane Geometry during 11th grade at a boarding school that also taught no higher math class. During that 11th grade experience, I fell in love with the class and decided that I wanted to be a mathematician. After high school graduation, I enrolled in a college where all of the students who were planning to become mathematicians had taken Calculus and Trigonometry in high school. I will then share how 5 years after graduating with a B.S. Degree in Math and Physics Education and after having taught high school mathematics & physics for 2 years and having earned a master’s degree in Applied Mathematics, I was hired by NASA as a Data Analyst (Computer) where I worked for 5 years supporting Engineers in the Apollo Program.The year was now 1972 and the United States has just cancelled its Commercial Supersonic Transport Program because of the noise of the sonic boom. I was transferred to a section created to work on the softening of the sonic boom of a supersonic airplane. I will then explain the process of the sonic boom work that resulted in a demonstration of the softened sonic boom.


Martin Gardner Lecture

Surprising Discoveries by Three Amateur Mathematicians

Saturday, August 1, 2:00 p.m. - 2:50 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom Salon G&H

Doris Schattschneider, Professor Emerita of Mathematics, Moravian College


It is amazing how intense curiosity and ingenuity can propel persons with little or no higher mathematical training to investigate mathematical problems and make surprising discoveries. Dutch graphic artist M.C. Escher (1898-1972), a failure at school mathematics, found answers to the question “Characterize shapes that will tile the plane in such a way that every tile is surrounded in the same manner.” American homemaker Marjorie Rice (1923-2017), not allowed any math beyond a high school general math course, found new answers to the question “Characterize convex pentagons that can tile the plane.” And Dutch sculptor Rinus Roelofs (b. 1954), with an undergraduate degree in applied mathematics and a degree from AKI School of Arts, discovered a new infinite family of uniform polyhedra through sculptural exploration. This lecture will give glimpses of how these three each asked and answered mathematical questions in their own unique way.


Student Activity Speaker

We Begin with a Deck of Cards …

Friday, July 31, 1:30 p..m. - 2:20 p.m., Marriott Philadelphia Downtown, Grand Ballroom A & B

Robert Vallin, Lamar University


We all know there are lots of fun games and activities that come from a standard deck of cards. As they say during 3 a.m. infomercials, “But wait, there’s more!!” A deck is also the gateway to a myriad of different ideas in mathematics. In this event we start with some of the more straightforward ideas like counting and then move on to some other fun things that we can play with. If you have a deck of cards, bring it along (there will be a limited supply available at the session).