Colloquium 2/19: Dr. Ryan Jensen on Student Projects Involving Homology

As part of the R. W. Yeagy Colloquium Series, on Monday, February 19th at 3:30PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Ryan Jensen will be talking about Student Projects Involving Homology. This should be a great talk for all math majors and minors. (flyer in PDF form)

Abstract: We will talk about what the field of mathematics called algebraic topology. In particular, we will discuss bar-codes and how they can tell us information about spaces. Additionally, we will introduce problems involving bar-codes and algebraic topology in the following areas:

  • Polynomials
  • Pascal’s triangle
  • Pascal’s n-simplex
  • Shortest path connecting a set of points
  • Fourier series
  • Algebraic curves
  • Contour plots of complex functions
  • Sublevel sets of n-manifolds

February Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Brittney Falahola


Editor’s Note: This is the first in a new series of spotlights on mathematics and statistics faculty. Dr. Falahola joined us in Fall 2017.

Do you have a hobby or collect something? How did you get into that?

My husband and I collect Christmas ornaments from all the places we visit together. We got our first ornament on our honeymoon and when we saw the same style of ornament in another location a year later, we decided it would be fun to try and find an ornament everywhere we went.

Tell us about an adventure you had, or would like to have.

One of the neat things about being in mathematics is all of the places it can take you (and most of the time for free!) As a student or professor of mathematics, I have visited Arkansas, California, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Virginia, and (of course) Texas! I look forward to more travels in the future.

What was one of your biggest successes or failures?

I’d have to say that having my daughter in May 2017 has been my biggest success so far in life. She is a joy and I feel blessed to be her momma.

What kind of music, books, movies, sports, games, cars, etc. (pick one or more) do you like? Any particular reason?

My favorite type of music to listen to is contemporary Christian music; it helps to keep me grounded in all of the busyness life can bring about.

I have only ever driven Ford vehicles since my dad is a big fan of Ford. I even got my husband to “come over to the Ford side” recently. He’s a proud convert.

I love to play card and dice games with my family, but am extremely competitive so the emotional stakes are always quite high when I play.

Also, having grown up mostly in north Texas, I am a huge fan of football and can still be found cheering on my high school (Trinity HS, Euless, Texas), and undergraduate (Baylor) teams.

What do you study? How did you get into that? Are there any (real-world) applications of your area of study?

My field of study is commutative algebra, with an emphasis on characteristic p methods in homological algebra. I knew I wanted to study some form of abstract algebra after taking some courses in it in undergraduate and graduate school, and the specific topic came to my attention with the advice of my doctoral advisor.

I also have a budding interest in post-secondary mathematics education after being involved in a major pedagogical restructuring of precalculus courses at my previous university.

What projects (academic or not) are you currently working on?

I am currently in the contemplative stage of decorating my house. I look forward to finding the time to start and finish little projects all around the house.

What was the best piece of advice you were ever given?

Do your best and let God do the rest!


Colloquium 2/5: Dr. Nick Long on Some Favorite Math Problems

As part of the R.W. Yeagy Colloquium Series, on February 5th at 3:30 PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Nick Long will be talking about Some Favorite Math Problems. This talk will be aimed at all levels of students with the only prior knowledge required being the idea of a prime number and how to iterate a function. A substantial amount of time will be devoted to participants working on some known problems and open problems.

Abstract: We’ll look at a few really interesting problems that you can understand in a couple of minutes and make progress on with just a pencil and paper. Some of these problems have been solved before; some of these are among the most important unsolved math problems. The difference between the solved and the unsolved is usually just a really good idea. (flyer in PDF form)

Colloquium 11/13: Dr. Jeremy Becnel on “A Million Dollar Math Problem: P vs NP

As part of the R. W. Yeagy Colloquium Series, on Monday, November 13  at 3:30 PM in Math Building 357, Dr. Jeremy Becnel will be talking about A Million Dollar Math Problem: P vs. NP. This talk will be interested to anyone who has an interest in mathematics: students, faculty, and fans of math.

Abstract: In 2000, the Clay Institute offered a $1 million prize for a solution to one of seven Millennium Problems. The P vs. NP problem was chosen as one of the Millennium Problems and is considered an important unsolved problem in both mathematics and computer science. The basic question is if a problem’s solution can be efficiently checked by a computer, then can the problem’s general solution be found efficiently by a computer. We will discuss the statement and importance of the P vs. NP problem. This talk will be interesting to anyone who has an interest in mathematics: students, faculty, and fans of math. (flyer in PDF form)

Colloquium 11/6: Aaron Baker on “The Mathematics of the Significant Tornado Parameter”

As part of the R. W. Yeagy Colloquium series, on Monday November 6th at 3:30 PM in room 357 of the Math Building, Aaron Baker (a SFA Math student) will be talking about The Mathematics of the Significant Tornado Parameter.

Abstract: The significant tornado parameter is one of many models recently created by the National Storm Prediction Center to predict the possibility of severe weather. This parameter looks at the winds, potential energy, and rotation in the atmosphere and performs calculations based on its predicted state. As more research on tornadoes has become available, this relatively new model has become more refined. Come take a look at its derivation and how it is used to predict tornadoes. (flyer in PDF form)

Colloquium 10/30: Dr. Fumiko Futamura on “Frame Diagonalization of Matrices”

As part of the R.W. Yeagy Colloquium series, on Monday, October 30 at 3:30 pm in Math Building 357, Dr. Fumiko Futamura will be talking about Frame Diagonalization of Matrices. This talk should be very accessible for undergraduates, especially ones who have had, or are in linear algebra.

Abstract: The ability to diagonalize a matrix is nice for a number of reasons, but we cannot always diagonalize a matrix with a basis of eigenvectors. We propose a new concept, of diagonalizing a matrix using a spanning set (called a frame) instead of a basis. We discuss some peculiar properties of diagonalizing with a frame, and determine the minimum size of a frame that will diagonalize a given matrix. As this is a new concept, there are many basic unanswered questions that undergraduates with only a background in linear algebra can understand. We will discuss these and more in this interactive talk, so bring a pencil and an open mind! (Flyer in PDF form)

Math Clubs 10/13: Rachel Payne on Beauty and the Bees: Mathematics in the Apairy

On October 13th at 2:00 pm in Math Building 212, Rachel Payne, SFA alumna and Master Beekeeper candidate (and several thousand of her assistants) will present “Beauty and the Bees: Mathematics in the Apiary.” From the Fibonacci sequence to the isoperimetric problem, Rachel will discuss honey bees and how math shows up in their family tree and in the architecture of their honeycomb. She’ll also describe how they communicate and will outline the Honey Bee Algorithm, which is used by web hosting companies to allocate servers. Flyer in PDF form