Department of


Seminar Calendar
for Mathematics in Science and Society events the year of Tuesday, March 13, 2018.

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Questions regarding events or the calendar should be directed to Tori Corkery.
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Tuesday, February 6, 2018

4:00 pm in 314 Altgeld Hall,Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Fighting Gerrymandering with the Blue Waters Supercomputer

Wendy K. Tam Cho (Dept of Political Science, Illinois)

Abstract: Important insights into redistricting can be gained through an interdisciplinary approach that combines research from many fields, including statistics, operations research, computer science, high performance computing, math, law, and political science. Our work integrates insights from all of these disciplines to create a novel approach for analyzing and reforming redistricting in a way that is tightly coupled with the framework that the Supreme Court has outlined over the past 5 decades.

Wendy K. Tam Cho is Professor in the Departments of Political Science, Statistics, Asian American Studies, and the College of Law, Senior Research Scientist at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, a Guggenheim Fellow, Faculty in the Illinois Informatics Institute, and Affiliate of the Cline Center for Democracy, the CyberGIS Center for Advanced Digital and Spatial Studies, the Computational Science and Engineering Program, and the Program on Law, Behavior, and Social Science, at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also founded and teaches at the Champaign-Urbana Math Circle.

Her research on redistricting has been published in many scholarly fields, including operations research, computer science, high performance computing, political science, and law. Its premise as a standard for adjudicating partisan gerrymandering was the subject of 11 amicus briefs and was presented in oral arguments before the Supreme Court.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

4:00 pm in 245 Altgeld Hall,Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Fields Medal Confidential: Behind the scenes of mathematicians’ most famous prize, 1936-1966

Michael J. Barany (Dartmouth College)

Abstract: First presented in 1936, the Fields Medal quickly became one of mathematicians' most prestigious, famous, and in some cases notorious prizes. Because its deliberations are confidential, we know very little about the early Fields Medals: how winners were selected, who else was considered, what values and priorities were debated---all these have remained locked in hidden correspondence. Until now. My talk will analyze newly discovered letters from the 1950 and 1958 Fields Medal committees, which I claim demand a significant change to our understanding of the first three decades of medals. I will show, in particular, that the award was not considered a prize for the very best mathematicians, or even for the very best young mathematicians. Debates from those years also shed new light on how the age limit of 40 came about, and what consequences this had for the Medal and for the mathematics profession. I argue that 1966 was the turning point that set the course for the Fields Medal's more recent meaning.