The Bernard Review
2011-2012 summation

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Chair: Donna Molinek

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WhittonAll our College community, and our department in particular, suffered a tragic loss this past November when beloved Professor Rob Whitton was killed by a car while crossing Concord Road. Dr. Whitton is remembered as a devoted and popular teacher who touched many Whitton tutoring in the Union with his love of life, math, and all the people around him. The Robert Clark Whitton Memorial Fund is still accepting donations at Davidson College, PO Box 7174, Davidson, NC 28035.

Our other loss deserves congratulations as SwallowProfessor John Swallow became Provost of Sewanee, the University of the South. While a superb department member, Dr. Swallow also served in leadership positions within Davidson College and was lured to his alma mater as a top administrator. Best wishes to Dr. Swallow; we will miss you.

We are excited to welcome two new Visiting Professors of Mathematics, RamanujanPeacheyjoining us for two years, starting fall 2012. Dr. Raghu Ramanujan has a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Cornell and will contribute to our department efforts to expand in Computer Science. Dr. Justin Peachey has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Clemson with a specialty in applicable algebra. We look forward to your contributions!

Last spring, we were delighted Professors Ben Klein and Richie King came out of retirement to teach a few courses again. It was great to have you back! For her sabbatical, Professor Laurie Heyer is visiting the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, for the upcoming year 2012-13.

Student Activities and Recognitions

The number of mathematics majors has been very strong recently with 21 in class of 2012, 29 in class of 2013, and 32 in class of 2014. Also enrollments in computer science classes continue to grow. Students are active in math coffees (talks) and international math and computer contests. Check out the various awards and competitions from last year. At the annual meeting of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America, Karen Larson '12 won a Patterson Prize for one of the best student presentations, as she explained her Davidson Honors project on clustering drum beats in rap songs.

rolling robot with cameraOne example of a creative course activity was in Dr. Heyer's Computer Science Seminar on Artificial Intelligence. Teams of students customized and programmed robots to go down the halls of Chambers Building and check rooms for open windows. Here you see Corey Poff '13 with his team's robot.

Outside of usual courses, seventeen different students worked on eighteen student research projects in 2011-12, mentored by Chartier, Heyer, Molinek, and Yerger.

Congratulations to all the 2012 graduates! They have shared many plans after graduation, including positions in business analysis, high school teaching, medical school, and even ESPN and WDAV.

Outreach and Lectures

lecture posterYou are invited to the 2012 Bernard Lecture, Mathematics and the Law: The Apportionment of the House of Representatives by Dr. Paul H. Edelman, Professor of Mathematics and Law, Vanderbilt University. It's a mathematical contribution to this political season that is very appropriate for Dr. Mossinghoff's second offering of MAT 108 Math in Politics. The 2011 Bernard Lecture was given by Professor Sue Whitesides of the University of Victoria, entitled At the crossroads of geometry, discrete mathematics, and algorithm design. A bonus last March was a show, the Secrets of Mental Math, by mathemagician Dr. Arthur Benjamin.

Dr. Tim Chartier lectured around the country, contributing many featured presentations for other audiences. In February, he was invited to Washington, DC, for the MAA Distinguished Lecture Series that brings top experts and expositors for public lectures every few months. He was also the featured Section Lecturer at the MAA Southeastern Section meeting in Georgia. In both, Professor Chartier explained Bracketology or March Mathness, mathematical approaches to ranking teams. For innovative outreach, he gave a series of webinars on Exploring Applications of Linear Algebra given to students and faculty at the schools throughout the Associated Colleges of the South. Dr. Chartier was asked by to be part of the Faculty Project which gathers "the best professors from the world's leading universities" to "teach online."   He put together 9 lectures on "Math is Everywhere: Applications of Finite Math", including special topics from Finite Math taught here at Davidson, and has over 3,000 people subscribed to the course. Dr. Chartier also led a seminar course entitled "Math Through Popular Culture" for the Charlotte Teachers Institute.

Department outreach to area schools featured Dr. Benjamin in March Mathness, a program for middle and high school students organized by Dr. Chartier, where Dr. Neidinger also spoke on Chaos and Fractals. On another Saturday, MOSAICS reached out to elementary schools. Drs. Davis and Yerger continue to work with the Charlotte Mathematics Club.

Mecklenburg mapDr. Mossinghoff offered expertise in county redistricting. He found over 30000 different ways to allocate precincts to Mecklenburg county districts and still fulfill all of the board's requirements. He sought an optimal plan and submitted one to the county.  Alas, this plan was not picked in the end!  His is looking forward however to writing an article about some of the mathematics and computer science behind redistricting problems like this one.

Faculty Professional Activity, Other Highlights

Irl Bivens & Stephen Davis

  • The 10th edition of their Calculus textbook with Howard Anton was published in November, in four different versions, plus different formats and supplements.

Tim Chartier

  • Check out the webpage of Chartier's many presentations (distinguished lectures, online courses, Mimematics, etc.) that are too numerous to list here.
  • His textbook Numerical Methods: Design, Analysis, and Computer Implementation of Algorithms coauthored with Anne Greenbaum was published by Princeton University Press. This summer it was translated into Chinese.
  • Invited to write for the Science blog of the Huffington Post. The articles are listed at
  • The article Robust and adaptive multigrid methods: comparing structured and algebraic approaches was published with MacLachlan (Tufts) and Moulton (Los Alamos National Laboratory) in Numerical Linear Algebra with Applications in 19 (2012), no 2 pages 389-413.
  • The research publication with Erich Kreutzer, Amy  Langville, and Kathryn Pedings entitled Sensitivity and Stability of Ranking Vectors that appeared in SIAM Journal on Scientific Computing was featured online by SIAM, which led to an IEEE Spectrum podcast by Steven Cherry, Football Rankings Versus Google’s PageRank (interview along with Erich Kreutzer ‘10).
  • The article with Bobby Philip Adaptive Algebraic Smoothers appeared in the Journal of Computational and Applied Mathematics
  • Davidson College along with the College of Charleston filed U.S. Patent Application No. 13/278,653 entitled System and Process for Ranking Content on Social Networks such as Twitter where Amy Langville, Lake Trask ('11) and Chartier are inventors, probably the first such filing by the college.  
  • collaborated on research on data mining social networks with the Cyber Defenders program at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory where Lake Trask (’11) served as a summer intern. 
  • advised Drs. Kevin Hutson and John Harris of Furman University on their summer research with undergraduates on sports ranking.  
  • invited to participate in the Interdisciplinary Workshop for Undergraduate Students and Faculty at Statistical and Applied Mathematical Sciences Institute (SAMSI) in Raleigh, and brought Daniel Bernstein ’13. 
  • in fact mentored 11 different student research projects and was in a video about such collaborative work.
  • started an outreach math performance group called Main Street Math which visited four 3rd grade classes at the Community School of Davidson in October. The participating students were Brandon Smalls ('11), Lori Pitts ('11) and Derek Marsh ('13); Brandon and Lori are theatre majors. 
  • co-organized with Harold Reiter, the Celebration of Mind gathering, part of worldwide events honoring Martin Gardner in December 2011. The activities were led by Harold, fellows in his Charlotte Teachers Institute seminar and Davidson students.
  • Attended MoMath Design Charrette to discuss exhibits for Museum of Mathematics (MoMath), New York, New York. May 2011.
  • Shortly after, Chartier was named chair of the Advisory Council for MoMath, working throughout the year to prepare for the opening in late 2012.
  • was featured is Princeton University Press blog on How to Use Math to Win Gold at the Olympics and How Mathematical Models Make Sense of Big Data.
  • Advised ESPN's Sports Science show on background work regarding probabilities related to umpiring two perfect games.  Student involved: Brian McGue ('13), Cyrus Lala ('13), Brian Kelly ('14) and Matt Mohorn ('14)
  • Chartier even gave the 2012 commencement address at Davidson Day School, Everything I Needed to Know I learned in Math Class.

Stephen Davis

  • served his 10th consecutive year as a leader in AP Calculus Exam grading, at the annual "AP Calculus Reading," in Kansas City, June 2012. He was "Chief Reader Associate" whose responsibilities are primarily to oversee the grading of the international and alternate forms of the AP Calculus exams.
  • concluded his term on the MAA Board of Governors at MathFest 2011 (Lexington, KY) & JMM 2012 (Boston, MA).
  • was elected Secretary-Treasurer of MAA SIGMAA-TAHSM (Special Interest Group on Teaching Advanced High School Mathematics) and served at MathFest 2012, along with other MAA committee work.

Laurie Heyer

  • Awarded two new NSF grants, along with Dr. Campbell in biology and their collaborators at Missouri Western State University. One is funding their research in synthetic biology for two years. The other is funding 3 national workshops for faculty to learn synthetic biology. The first workshop was in Summer 2012 at the Janelia Farm Research Campus of Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
  • paper Word selection affects perceptions of synthetic biology appeared in the Journal of Biological Engineering.
  • paper Bacterial Hash Function Using DNA-Based XOR Logic Reveals Unexpected Behavior of the LuxR Promoter on the design of an XOR logic gate in living cells appeared in Interdisciplinary Bio Central.
  • Gave invited presentations at a bioinformatics education conference in Vienna, Austria, and at Ohio University.
  • Attended the International INRIA-McGill-Victoria Workshop on Problems in Computational Geometry, where she did research with Bernard Lecturer Sue Whitesides and others on a graph drawing problem. A paper resulting from this work will appear soon.
  • Attended the Society for Mathematical Biology conference, where summer research students Jonah Galeota-Sprung '13, Andrew Lantz '14 and Tucker Whitesides '13 presented their research from Summer 2012.
  • Attended an undergraduate math conference with Duke DeLoache '12, who presented his research from Summer 2011.

Michael Mossinghoff

  • Average Mahler's measure and Lp norms of unimodular polynomials, coauthored with a colleague at Simon Fraser University, appeared in the Pacific Journal of Mathematics.  This paper studies the distribution of certain norms of polynomials whose coefficients are all complex numbers with modulus 1.  These polynomials arise in many mathematical contexts. 
  • Another paper, jointly developed with a colleague at the University of Waterloo, was accepted at the Rocky Mountain Journal of Mathematics.
  • Another paper, jointly written with a postdoc at the Australian National University, was accepted in the Journal of the Australian Mathematical Society.
  • received a Collaboration Grant for Mathematicians from the Simons Foundation that will support travel to conferences, as well as some departmental events, over the next five years.
  • attended the Applied Mathematics, Modeling and Computational Sciences conference in Waterloo, Canada summer 2011, and gave a talk in a session on computational number theory.  This meeting was combined with some other travels in Canada, visiting some research colleagues in British Columbia and then in Ontario in July.  This past summer 2012, Mossinghoff returned to Canada to continue some research work, spending some time in Vancouver, and then in Lethbridge, Alberta, for a large conference in number theory, where he presented some recent research.
  • spoke at the Palmetto Number Theory Series meeting in September 2011at Emory University, on some problems in analytic number theory that are related to the Riemann Hypothesis, a famous conjecture in number theory about the distribution of prime numbers.
  • co-organized a special session on Mathematics of Computation in Algebra and Number Theory at the JMM (Boston 2012) meeting.
  • gave talks in the spring at Clayton State for the MAA sectional meeting, at Western Carolina for a regional number theory conference, and at Clemson for an NSF-supported REU program.
  • developed another new course in computer science, on Programming Languages.

Rich Neidinger

  • Invited as the first speaker in a minisymposium on Automatic Differentiation Software at ICIAM, the quadrennial International Congress on Industrial and Applied Mathematics, held July 2011 in Vancouver, Canada, sharing his experience in introducing Automatic Differentiation to students in his Numerical Analysis class at Davidson.
  • Expert reviewer of a doctoral candidate for the Department of Mathematics at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.  He evaluated the dissertation Structured Higher-Order Algorithmic Differentiation in the Forward and Reverse Mode with Application in Optimum Experimental Design by Sebastian F. Walter, and participated in the dissertation defense in Germany.
  • At the Twelfth European Workshop on Automatic Differentiation held at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin on Dec. 8-9, 2011, where Neidinger was invited to give the opening talk in the series of 23 talks for the 55 participants.  He spoke on Comparing Arbitrary-Order Multivariable AD Methods, work done with Ben Altman '10 in his honors thesis at Davidson.
  • Invited to speak at a special session in the 9th AIMS International Conference on Dynamical Systems, Differential Equations and Applications, in Orlando in July 2012. He spoke about recurrence relations for univariate and multivariate Taylor series coefficients.

Carl Yerger

  • Selected as a 2011-2012 Project NExT Fellow.  Project NExT is a professional development program for new faculty organized by the MAA.
  • Collaborated with Paul Britton '12 on a project started in my Math 384 (Game Theory) seminar.  This led to a summer research project titled, “Boxing in Basketball: A round-by-round analysis of the college game”, which was submitted to the Journal of Quantitative Analysis in Sports.  In addition, Paul was invited to speak at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in Boston this January, where over 75 conference participants attended his 20-minute talk.
  • Summer 2011 Yerger traveled to Prague, Czech Republic to work at the Institute for Theoretical Computer Science, Charles University, where he finished revising a paper titled, Pebbling Graphs of Diameter Three and Four which was recently published in the Journal of Graph Theory.
  • His paper Five coloring graphs on the Klein bottle will appear this year in Journal of Combinatorial Theory, Series B.
  • spoke "On three sets with nondecreasing diameter", Cumberland Conference on Graph Theory, Combinatorics and Computing, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY, May 13, 2011.
  • Same talk given at INTEGERS conference, University of West Georgia, Carrollton, GA, October 20, 2011.
  • presented "Steinberg's conjecture and higher surfaces", Weekly seminar, Institute for Theoretical Computer Science, Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, June 2, 2011, invited speaker.
  • presented "Modified linear programming weighting for graph pebbling", American Mathematical Society Section Meeting, Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, NC, September 24, 2011, invited speaker.
  • Same talk given in Special Session on New Directions in Graph Theory, January 2012, Boston, MA, invited speaker.
  • Dr. Yerger was recently awarded an AMS-Simons Travel Grant, a competitive travel funding award for young researchers of $4000 to be spent over two years.  This will help him continue to grow his international collaborations, especially with Ken-ichi Kawarabayshi, National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo, Japan, whom he visited this summer 2012 in July.   

Continuing Support

            Thank you for your continuing support of the Richard R. Bernard Society for Mathematics at Davidson College. Your gifts support outside speakers and math coffees, student travel to conferences, and other mathematical events.

            To make a contribution to the society, please specify "Bernard Society" on your check and mail it to the Office of Development, Davidson College, Box 7173, Davidson, NC 28035-7173. Gifts to the Bernard Society are separate from the Annual Fund.