Risky Decisions: Choice, Chance and Classroom Calculations

April 22, 20137:30 PM – 8:30 PM

Searles Science Building, Room 315

"Why didn't nature make brains better at estimating probabilities?" Daniel Goroff--Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and former professor, dean, and government official--examines what probability, decision theory, and behavioral economics can teach us about mathematics education and life.

BIO: Daniel L. Goroff is Vice President and Program Director at the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropy that makes grants supporting breakthrough science, technology, and economics. He is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics and Economics at Claremont's Harvey Mudd College, where he previously served as Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculty.

Goroff earned his B.A.-M.A. degree in mathematics summa cum laude at Harvard as a Borden Scholar, an M.Phil. in economics at Cambridge University as a Churchill Scholar, a Masters in mathematical finance at Boston University, and a Ph.D. in mathematics at Princeton University as a Danforth Fellow.

Daniel Goroff's first faculty appointment was at Harvard University in 1983. During over two decades there, he rose to the rank of Professor of the Practice of Mathematics while also serving as Associate Director of the Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, and as a Resident Tutor at Leverett House.

A 1988 Phi Beta Kappa Teaching Prize winner, Goroff taught courses for the mathematics, physics, history of science, economics, and continuing education programs at Harvard. He was also the founding director of a Masters Degree Program in "Mathematics for Teaching" offered through the Harvard Extension School. Beginning with the international distance education courses he developed using audiographics conferencing over twenty years ago, and continuing through his most recent online course called "Decisions, Games, and Negotiations," Goroff has been an educational innovator throughout his teaching career.

In pursuing his work on nonlinear systems, chaos, and decision theory, Daniel Goroff has held visiting positions at the Institut des Hautes Etudes Scientifiques in Paris, the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley, Bell Laboratories in New Jersey, and the Dibner Institute at MIT.

In 1994, Goroff was elected to a three-year term on the Board of Directors of the American Association for Higher Education (AAHE). During 1996-97, he was a Division Director at the National Research Council (NRC) in Washington, and during 1997-98, Goroff worked for the President's Science Advisor at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). That year he was named a "Young Leader of the Decade in Academia" by Change: The Magazine of Higher Education.

As Director of the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) from 1998 to 2001, Daniel Goroff was called to testify about educational and research priorities both by the House and again by the Senate during the 106th Congress. He also testified before the 109th Congress. A former Chair of the U.S. National Commission on Mathematics Instruction at the National Research Council (NRC), he was co-director of the Scientific and Engineering Workforce Project based at the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Goroff was a founding board member of the nonpartisan group "Scientists and Engineers for America" and is a member of the NRC's Board on International Scientific Organizations.

With his vacation and consulting time, Daniel Goroff works on nonprofit strategies and projects through the firm Anthony Knerr & Associates. Beginning in 2009, he has taught courses as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Mathematics at Columbia University's Teachers College. During 2010, Goroff served part time as Assistant Director for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

This talk is the Cecil T. & Marion C. Holmes Mathematics Lecture sponsored by the Mathematics Department and the Computation in the Liberal Arts Colloquium (CLAC).

Mathematics Department Seminar Talk - Daniel Goroff

April 22, 20134:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Searles Science Building, Room 315

Daniel Goroff, Vice President of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, will present a Mathematics seminar talk titled "Poincare and the Great Chaos Scandal".

Abstract: Henri Poincare lived in France at the turn of the 20th Century and invented much of modern mathematics-including what has come to be called "chaos theory." How this happened is a story full of surprises. It starts with studying pendula, planets, and other dynamical systems whose motion seems familiar and predictable. After many mistakes and missteps, the whole idea of what it means to solve a differential equation changed.

Mathematics and the Melting Polar Ice Caps

April 12, 20136:00 PM – 7:00 PM

Visual Arts Center, Kresge Auditorium

Dr. Kenneth Golden, presents the Dan E. Christie Mathematics Lecture.

Abstract: In September of 2012, the area of the Arctic Ocean covered by sea ice reached its lowest level ever recorded in more than three decades of satellite measurements. In fact, compared to the 1980's and 1990's, this represents a loss of more than half of the summer Arctic sea ice pack. While global climate models generally predict sea ice declines over the 21st century, the precipitous losses observed so far have significantly outpaced most projections.

Dr. Golden will discuss how mathematical models of composite materials and statistical physics are being used to study key sea ice processes and to advance how sea ice is represented in climate models. This work is helping to improve projections of the fate of Earth's ice packs, and the response of polar ecosystems. In addition, a video from a 2012 Antarctic expedition where sea ice properties were measured will be shown.

Dr. Golden's photographs are also on display in the Searles Science Building, and in the exhibition Sense of Scale, Measure by Color: Art Science and Mathematics of Planet Earth, at the Bowdoin Museum of Art, April 4 - June 2, 2013.

The lecture is aimed at a general audience. Students, high school students and the public are all welcome, free of charge.

Biography: Kenneth M. Golden is a Professor of Mathematics and Adjunct Professor of Bioengineering at the University of Utah. His scientific interests lie in sea ice, climate change, composite materials, phase transitions, and inverse problems. He has published 56 papers in mathematics, physics, geophysics, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and biomechanics journals, and given over 350 invited lectures on six continents, including three presentations in the US Congress. Dr. Golden has journeyed seven times to Antarctica and eight times to the Arctic to study sea ice.

In high school he became fascinated by the polar regions, studying satellite images of sea ice at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. As an undergraduate he worked at the US Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory on radar propagation in sea ice, while completing degrees in Mathematics and Physics at Dartmouth College. Dr. Golden received his Ph.D. in Mathematics at the Courant Institute of NYU in 1984. Prior to moving to Utah in 1991, he was an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Princeton University, and a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University in mathematical physics.

In 2011 Professor Golden was selected as a Fellow of the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics for "extraordinary interdisciplinary work on the mathematics of sea ice," and in 2013 he was in the inaugural class of Fellows of the American Mathematical Society. Professor Golden received the University of Utah's highest award for teaching in 2007 and for research in 2012. His polar expeditions and mathematical work have been covered in over 30 newspaper, magazine, and web articles, including profiles in Science and Science News. He has also been interviewed numerous times on radio and television.

Co-sponsored by the Mathematics Department, the Bowdoin College Museum of Art, and NSF Math Climate Research Network.

Math Department Seminar - Laura Foster

April 9, 20134:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Searles Science Building, Room 217

Laura Voss Foster of Johns Hopkins University will present a seminar talk titled "Peer-led-team learning (PILOT) to foster collaborative learning: A discussion".

PILOT learning aims to actively teach and demonstrate how collaborative learning uses contributions from individuals to benefit a group, thus fostering a more social learning environment. The JHU program supports calculus, introductory chemistry, physics, and engineering classes. The program is not remedial and is carefully developed to help students of all abilities. The cooperative nature of the program helps reinforce course materials while creating a way for students to meet and work closely with classmates. Our preliminary data indicate that students participating in the program tend to earn higher grades. Previous PILOT participants report that they enjoyed the time spent working with their groups and found it to be more effective than time spent studying alone. In this discussion, preliminary data from attitudinal surveys and student performance will be shared, and I am happy to explore ideas about how to implement a similar program at Bowdoin.

Co-sponsored by Bowdoin Quantitative Reasoning Program and the NSF.

Sanjeev Kulkarni on Machine Learning and Democracy: Some Problems in Collective Decision-Making

April 4, 20134:30 PM – 5:30 PM

Visual Arts Center, Beam Classroom

*The Classics Department presents:*

Professor of Electrical Engineering

Director of the Keller Center for Technology and Society

Princeton University

A recent area of interest in machine learning involves drawing inferences from a large number of agents, each with some partial information. These problems in collective decision-making are closely related to a fundamental problem of democracy--that of inferring the collective will of the people. This talk will give a brief overview of machine learning and voting theory, followed by a discussion of some of our recent work in these areas.

Underwritten by: the Charles F. Adams Lectureship Fund, the Jasper Jacob Stahl lectureship fund. Co-sponsored by the Classics Department and Computer Science with additional support from the Government Department and Computational Studies.

Mathematics Department Seminar - Jesse Berwald

April 4, 20134:15 PM – 5:15 PM

Searles Science Building, Room 217

Dr. Jesse Berwald from the College of William and Mary will present a seminar talk entitled "Age Classification of Red Blood Cells: Tales From Persistent Topology. Abstract of the talk--Human red blood cells exhibit vibratory motions, referred to as "flickering". While the dynamics of flickering has not been completely characterized, it may be observed using phase contrast microscopy. In particular, observed coarse topological features seem to suggest a difference in flickering behavior between young and senescent red blood cells. We present an automated topological persistence-based scheme for quantifying aspects of the spatial and spatio-temporal characteristics of this behavior, and demonstrate its usefulness in detecting the age of red blood cells, which has possible implications for blood storage.

Reaching Day Zero: Living Sustainably at Bowdoin and Beyond

April 2, 20137:00 PM – 8:30 PM

Visual Arts Center, Beam Classroom

An interdisciplinary faculty-facilitated conversation on what Bowdoin students can do about climate change and how different fields can contribute to the conversation. Moderated by President Barry Mills and led by a panel featuring Casey Meehan (Education), David Collings (English, Gay and Lesbian Studies), Emily Peterman (EOS), Laura Henry (Government), Mary Lou Zeeman (Math), Barbara Putnam (Visual Arts), and Katy Longley (Bowdoin's Chief Financial and Administrative Officer).