Joint Mathematics Meetings in New Orleans January 5-8, 2007

December 21, 2006

Providence, RI -- Approximately 5000 mathematicians will attend the annual meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) at the Sheraton New Orleans and New Orleans Marriott, January 5-8. Researchers will present nearly 1800 papers from all specialties of mathematics. The website for the Meetings is

Topics: Among the topics of talks and sessions are: entertaining with math, New Orleans math departments and universities since Katrina, applications of mathematics, financial mathematics, the mathematics of voting, geometry in movie animation, mathematical modeling of biological systems, and math education.

Press Room: Napoleon Registration (third floor) of the Sheraton New Orleans, offering free wireless access, fact sheets, the book of abstracts, the complete program of the Meetings, phone, and a place to conduct interviews. Hours: Friday January 5 through Sunday January 7, 7:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m., and Monday January 8, 7:30 a.m. - noon. The press room phone number is 504-681-5426.

Special Opportunity: The Mathematics of Voting Systems, Saturday January 6, 9:30 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Don Saari (University of California, Irvine) Members of the media are invited to interview voting expert Don Saari regarding his mathematical analyses of voting systems. Saari can shed light on the paradoxical situations that result from the choice of a voting procedure - whether for President or the #1 college football team. If you are interested in interviewing Saari in the Press Room (Napoleon Registration, Sheraton 3rd floor), please RSVP to

Selected Events from the Joint Meetings:Descriptions of Selected Events:

Hurricane Katrina Relief Raffle
The AMS and MAA are sponsoring this raffle for all participants. The raffle and a special Joint Mathematics Meetings t-shirt sale will be held in the Marriott during the meetings to raise money for the Second Harvest of New Orleans Food Bank BackPack Program, which provides nutritious, child-friendly food in a backpack for children at risk of hunger. Among the raffle prizes are a iPod and a laptop. A flyer describing the raffle is online at The drawings will be on Monday, January 8 at 1:00 p.m.

Katrina and its Aftermath: Institutional Survival in New Orleans Since the Storm (AMS Committee on the Profession presentation), Friday January 5, 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Kenneth W. Holladay (University of New Orleans), Morris Kalka (Tulane University), Vlajko L. Kocic (Xavier University of Louisiana) and Katarzyna Saxton (Loyola University) discuss the impact of the hurricane on New Orleans math departments, describe their current situation, and present plans for the future.

Unified Modeling of Corporate Debt, Credit Derivatives, and Equity Derivatives, Friday January 5 4:45 p.m. - 5:45 p.m. Vadim Linetsky, Northwestern University Linetsky studies the problem of developing a unified framework for modeling and valuation of corporate debt, credit derivatives, equity derivatives. He proposes and solves in closed form several parsimonious models of defaultable stock that enable the pricing of corporate debt, credit derivatives, and stock options in a unified fashion. Mathematically, the modeling framework is that of Markov processes with killing, where the killing rate (default intensity) is a function of the underlying stock price. In particular, Linetsky presents a new class of analytically tractable models with jumps, stochastic volatility, and default based on time-changed Markov processes.

Entertaining with Math (MAA Session), Friday January 5, 2:15 p.m. - 5:50 p.m. Organized by Timothy P. Chartier, Davidson College, Speakers include Colin Adams (Williams College), Arthur Benjamin (Harvey Mudd College), and Colm Mulcahy (Spelman College). Some of the topics are card tricks, juggling, and magic.

Hardy's Oxford Years (Annual lecture of the MAA Special Interest Group on History of Mathematics), Friday January 5, 6:00 p.m. - 7:00 p.m. Robin J. Wilson, The Open University, UK
Godfrey Harold Hardy FRS was the most important British pure mathematician of the first half of the last century. In this talk Wilson describes Hardy's achievements during his Oxford years. Although Hardy is usually thought of as a Cambridge man, his years from 1920 to 1931 as Savilian Professor of Geometry at Oxford University were his most productive. He was at the prime of his creative life, and wrote over 100 papers at Oxford, including many of his most important investigations with his long-term collaborator J. E. Littlewood. During this period he received prestigious honours and held high office in several organizations. (Note that Wilson is also speaking Saturday afternoon from 1:00 to 1:30 in the AMS Special Session on Mathematical Techniques in Musical Analysis. The title of that talk is Yea, Why Try Her Raw Wet Hat?)

Mathematical Modeling of Complex Systems in Biology (SIAM Minisymposium), Saturday January 6, 8:00 a.m. - 10:50 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 3:50 p.m. Organized by Lisa J. Fauci, Tulane University, Among the talks in this session is one given by former Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics President, Mac Hyman (Los Alamos National Laboratory), entitled Mathematical Models for Estimating the Number of People Infected with HIV (1:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.). Other topics include modeling cancer and the shape of the human brain.

Geometry in the Movies (SIAM Invited Address), Saturday January 6, 11:10 a.m. - 12:00 noon. Tony DeRose, Pixar Animation Studios Film making is undergoing a digital revolution brought on by advances in areas such as computer technology, computational physics and approximation theory. Using numerous examples drawn from Pixar's feature films, this talk will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the role that geometry plays in the revolution. DeRose was a major contributor to Pixar's Oscar-winning short film Geri's Game.

Geometry and Islamic Art in Tenth-Century Baghdad, Sunday January 7, 10:30 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. J. Lennart Berggren, Simon Fraser University
Berggren presents an overview of the contents and some of the beautiful geometrical constructions found in Abu al-Wafa al-Buzjani's Essentials of Geometrical Constructions for the Artisan. The work contains constructions with the so-called rusty compass, methods for inscribing one regular polygon in another, and dissection techniques for polygons. These methods lead to the kind of beautiful geometic designs that one finds in Islamic tilings of the period. Bergrren sets al-Buzjani's techniques in the historical context both of some of the ancient Greek constructions and geometric activity in and around Baghdad in al-Buzjani's time.

Eliminating Eve's Eavesdropping (or How to Stop a Snoop), Sunday January 7, 8:30 a.m. - 9:00 a.m. Kristen Meyer, Wisconsin Lutheran College
One of the most common problems in cryptography deals with ensuring the integrity of a message. Message authentication codes, or MACs, are commonly used to deal with this problem. In this talk Meyer describes one particular MAC (called QMAC), which relies on the nonassociativity of extremely large quasigroups for its security. She also discusses a method for creating such quasigroups involving linear feedback shift registers.

Girls Can Do Math, But Most Don't Due to Cultural Factors, Sunday January 7, 10:15 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Janet E. Mertz, University of Wisconsin
Lawrence Summers hypothesized that a major reason for the paucity of women mathematicians among the faculty of elite universities might be gender differences in extreme innate ability in mathematics. This commonly held belief is largely based upon data from standardized tests such as the SAT and GRE, tests which only examine proficiency in grade-level knowledge. To identify students with truly exceptional ability in mathematics, Mertz collected data from the USA Mathematical Olympiad, the International Mathematical Olympiad (IMO), the Putnam Competition, and from training camps for prospective participants in these competitions. The IMO, taken by the very top mathematics students from about 85 countries, provides information regarding cultural differences among countries as well. Mertz shows that women who possess this extreme math ability do exist; however, cultural factors likely inhibit most girls and, even, many boys in the US from studying mathematics at the level necessary to be identified as very highly able in this field or to pursue it as a career.

The Mathematics of Sudoku and Other Puzzles (MAA Session), Sunday January 7, 8:00 a.m. - 10:55 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. - 3:35 p.m. Organized by: Laura A. Taalman, James Madison University Most of the talks in these two sessions are on the popular puzzle Sudoku, its mathematical properties and applications. Other talks deal with other puzzles, such as the game SET.

The Mathematics of Refinancing, Sunday January 7, 10:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Crystal K. Dahlhaus (speaker) and Youngna Choi, Montclair State University
After a loan is taken, people often look towards refinancing in order to achieve a lower interest rate. This research project models the effects of refinancing home mortgages and car loans at lower interest rates. Dalhaus shows the point in time that is most beneficial to the borrower for refinancing depending on the terms left on the loan and the percent decrease in the interest rate, taking into account the refinancing fees in the model. Also, Dalhaus looks at how the refinanced loan will be contracted. For example, when a loan is refinanced during the loan period, will the new loan be for the remainder of the original contract or the start of another contract? This talk helps to arrive at the answers to these questions.

A Panel on the National Math Panel (AMS Committee on Education Panel Discussion), Monday January 8, 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m. Organized by William G. McCallum, University of Arizona. Presenters are Francis Fennell, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and Larry R. Faulkner, University of Texas at Austin
The National Mathematics Advisory Panel was created by President Bush in 2006 to advise on the best use of scientifically based research regarding the teaching and learning of mathematics. Faulkner is chair of the seventeen-member panel. To date, the panel has met four times, soliciting input from the public and discussing issues involved in teaching and learning. Its fifth meeting will be in New Orleans, following the Joint Mathematics Meetings.

Big Waves on Deep Water (MAA Invited Address), Monday January 8, 10:05 a.m. - 10:55 a.m. Jerry L. Bona, University of Illinois at Chicago Large ampliude waves in the open ocean have attracted attention recently and, in some quarters, for many decades. Bona discusses some of these phenomena and explains mathematical issues that revolve around their genesis and their subsequent evolution.

Calculus for the Public, Monday January 8, 5:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Michael Starbird, University of Texas at Austin
Our experience of life today differs markedly from that of people who lived 300 years ago. Most of the differences are owing to technological developments and most of those relied heavily on the techniques and perspectives of calculus. The concepts that make calculus so effective are accessible and interesting to people who will never personally take derivatives or integrals. It is inspirational to present calculus to people whose goal is intellectual curiosity. It requires focusing on the question of why calculus has been one of the greatest and most effective intellectual accomplishments in history. Keeping that perspective in mind might well help in our presentation of calculus to students as well.
The Joint Mathematics Meetings are held for the purpose of advancing mathematical achievement, encouraging research, and to provide the communication necessary to progress in the field. These meetings serve to preserve, supplement, and utilize the results of the research of mathematicians the world over. Keeping abreast of the progress in mathematics results in the furtherance of the interest of mathematical scholarship and research.

American Mathematical Society

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