Colloquium

Better together: Swarming, information and strange interactions.

10/19/2016 - 4:15pm
10/19/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Lou Rossi (UDel)
Abstract: 

Animal groups often exhibit social behaviors that lead to aggregations.  Popular examples include schools of fish, flocks of birds and cohorts of pedestrians.  These aggregations serve a variety of functions including navigational guidance, protection, foraging and so forth.  These behaviors provide inspiration for the control of autonomous robots and other entities.  The advantage to this approach to control is that it is decentralized and trivially scales to large numbers of individuals.  Mathematical theory and analysis plays a crucial role in understanding how local interactions map to the motion and dynamics of the entire swarm.  One popular proposed signaling mechanism for swarming individuals uses three zones.  In three-zone swarming, individual behavior is driven by the position and orientation of neighboring individuals in each of three concentric zones, corresponding to repulsion, orientation and attraction respectively.  We will review some results on stability, information transfer and leadership with three zone swarming using a continuum model.  Finally, we will explore very different swarming interactions arising in certain plankton species which can signal one another using toxins or by shading one another.

Where: 
Kravis Center Lower Court 62, Claremont McKenna College

Structured signal recovery without the shackles of convexity

09/21/2016 - 4:15pm
09/21/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Mahdi Soltanolkotabi (USC)
Abstract: 

Many problems in science and engineering ask for solutions to underdetermined systems of linear equations. The last decade has witnessed a flurry of activity in understanding when and how it is possible to solve such problems using convex/greedy schemes. Structured signal recovery via convex methods has arguably revolutionized signal acquisition, enabling signals to be measured with remarkable fidelity using a small number of measurements. Despite many success stories, in this talk I will argue that over insistence on convex methods has stymied progress in some application domains. I will discuss my ongoing research efforts to “unshackle” structured signal recovery from the confines of convexity opening the door for new applications. In particular, I will present a unified theoretical framework for sharply characterizing the convergence rates of various (non-)convex iterative schemes for solving such problems. Time permitting, I will also discuss problem domains where carefully designed non-convex techniques are effective but convex counterparts are known to fail or yield suboptimal results. This is based on joint work with collaborators who shall be properly introduced during the talk.

Where: 
Kravis Center Lower Court 62, Claremont McKenna College

What is Mathematical Biology and is it useful?

11/16/2016 - 4:15pm
11/16/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Avner Friedman(OSU)
Abstract: 

In this talk I will explain why biology is far more complicated than any of the physical sciences. I will then proceed to describe the process of doing research in mathematical biology, what are the aims, and what are the challenges. I will give two examples. The first one is modeling of tuberculosis (by ODEs) and the second one is modeling the risk of high cholesterols for heart attack or stroke. These examples address bio-medical questions. But I will also show how simplified version of the models introduce new mathematical questions both in ODEs and PDEs and lead to new mathematical results in analysis.

Where: 
Kravis Center Lower Court 62, Claremont McKenna College

What is a formula?

09/28/2016 - 4:15pm
09/28/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Igor Pak (UCLA)
Abstract: 

Integer sequences arise in a large variety of combinatorial problems as a way to count combinatorial objects.  Some of them have nice formulas, some have elegant recurrences, and some have nothing interesting about them at all.  Can we characterize when?  Can we even formalize what is a "formula"?  I will give a mini-survey aiming to answer these question with many examples.  At the end, I will present some recent results counting certain permutation classes, and finish with open problems.

Where: 
Kravis Center Lower Court 62, Claremont McKenna College

Codes, Curves, and Configurations of Points

09/07/2016 - 4:15pm
09/07/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Nathan Kaplan (UCI)
Abstract: 

We give an introduction to error-correcting codes focusing on connections to combinatorics, linear algebra, and geometry.  No previous familiarity with coding theory will be assumed. 

A code C is a subset of (F_q)^n, where F_q denotes the finite field of q elements.  The Hamming distance between two elements of (F_q)^n is the number of coordinates in which they are different.  For fixed q and n what is the maximum size of a code such that any two of its elements have Hamming distance at least d?  This problem is easy to state but leads to surprisingly complicated mathematics.  We will focus on one extremal family, the Maximum Distance Separable (MDS) codes.  Understanding these codes (when they exist, how many there are, etc.) is a major problem in coding theory that has natural connections to classical algebraic geometry.

Where: 
Kravis Center Lower Court 62, Claremont McKenna College

Conductivity imaging from minimal interior measurements

03/30/2016 - 4:15pm
03/30/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Amir Moradifam (UC Riverside)
Abstract: 

I will discuss the problem of recovering an isotropic conductivity outside of some perfectly conducting or insulating inclusions from knowledge of the magnitude of one current density vector field. This problem is closely related to uniqueness of minimizers of certain weighted least gradient problems and theory of minimal surfaces. We prove that the conductivity outside of the inclusions as well as the shape and position of the inclusions are uniquely determined by the magnitude of the current generated by imposing a given boundary voltage.

 

Where: 
Argue Auditorium, Millikan, Pomona College

The Battle for Cantorian Set Theory

10/26/2016 - 4:15pm
Speaker: 
Joseph Dauben (CUNY)
Abstract: 

The substance of Georg Cantor’s revolutionary mathematics of the infinite is well-known: in developing what he called the arithmetic of transfinite numbers, he gave mathematical content to the idea of actual infinity. In so doing he laid the groundwork for abstract set theory and made significant contributions to the foundations of the calculus and to the analysis of the continuum of real numbers. Cantor’s most remarkable achievement was to show, in a mathematically rigorous way, that the concept of infinity is not an undifferentiated one. Not all infinite sets are the same size, and consequently, infinite sets can be compared with one another. But so shocking and counter-intuitive were Cantor’s ideas at first that the eminent French mathematician, Henri Poincaré, once characterized Cantor’s theory of transfinite numbers as a “disease” from which he was certain mathematics would one day be cured. Leopold Kronecker, one of Cantor’s teachers and among the most prominent members of the German mathematics establishment, even attacked Cantor personally, and in the words of Arthur Schoenflies, called him a “scientific charlatan,” a “renegade” and a “corrupter of youth.” It is also well-known that Cantor suffered throughout his life from a series of “nervous breakdowns” which became increasingly frequent and debilitating as he got older. Some have linked this to his dangerous flirtations with the infinite, and Cantor has often been portrayed as the hapless victim of the infinite, due to his increasingly long periods of mental breakdown that began in the 1880s, all of which were exacerbated by the persecutions of his contemporaries. But such accounts distort the truth by trivializing the genuine intellectual concerns that motivated some of the most thoughtful contemporary opposition to Cantor’s theory. They also fail to credit the power and scope of the defense Cantor offered for his ideas in the battle to win acceptance for transfinite set theory.

Where: 
Kravis Lower Court, Claremont McKenna College

Patterns of Synchrony: From Animal Gaits to Binocular Rivalry

04/20/2016 - 4:15pm
04/20/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Martin Golubitsky (OSU)
Abstract: 

This talk will review previous work on quadrupedal gaits and recent work on a generalized model for binocular rivalry proposed by Hugh Wilson. Both applications show how rigid phase-shift synchrony in periodic solutions of coupled systems of differential equations can help understand high level collective behavior in the nervous system.

 

Where: 
Argue Auditorium, Millikan, Pomona College

Approximation theory perspective on data processing

04/06/2016 - 4:15pm
04/06/2016 - 5:15pm
Speaker: 
Hrushikesh Mhaskar (CGU/Caltech)
Abstract: 

We argue that data based classification and regression problems can be viewed profitably as problems of function approximation. We describe in detail a case study in the theory of function approximation in case of approximation of continuous 2*pi–periodic functions by trigonometric polynomials. In particular, we will discuss the equivalence theorems, and some relatively new research regarding local approximation based on Fourier information. Several extensions to other settings are mentioned, and a few applications and potential applications are discussed.

Where: 
Argue Auditorium, Millikan, Pomona College

Fixed Point Free Permutations

02/17/2016 - 4:15pm
Speaker: 
Robert Guralnick (USC)
Abstract: 

A permutation g on a set X is said to be fixed point free (or a derangement) if g fixes no points.   If G is a finite group acting transitively on a set of cardinality greater than 1, then an elementary 1872 theorem of Jordan says that G contains derangements.  We will discuss generalizations of this result and applications to finite fields and number theory.

 

Where: 
Argue Auditorium, Millikan, Pomona College
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