Department of


Seminar Calendar
for Undergraduate Friday Seminar events the year of Thursday, April 8, 2021.

events for the
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More information on this calendar program is available.
Questions regarding events or the calendar should be directed to Tori Corkery.
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Friday, January 29, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, January 29, 2021

The Mathematics Behind Two Puzzles

Jared Bronski (UIUC)

Abstract: I plan to talk about two puzzles with very elegant mathematical solutions. I would encourage you to think about (but not Google!) these puzzles, particularly the easier version of the first puzzle, before the talk. All of them can be found in the attachment below. We'll also need volunteers for a demonstration on Friday, so if you'd like to help please email For Zoom info, please email

Friday, February 5, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, February 5, 2021

Satisfiability: Why some problems are easy, while others are hard

Vaibhav Karve (UIUC)

Abstract: I will introduce a 50-year-old problem called Boolean Satisfiability (or simply SAT) and I will explain why we should care about it. We will explore how an abstract-looking problem can end up being connected to circuits, airline scheduling, Rubiks cubes, chess, video games, and travelling salesmen. I will explain how small SAT are easy and how big SAT can be hard -- and how we quantify the hardness of a problem. By the end of the talk, we will have learned some computer science as well.

For Zoom info, please contact

Friday, March 12, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, March 12, 2021

Primes represented by binary quadratic forms

Olivia Beckwith   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: Let Q(x,y) = ax^2 + bxy + cy^2, where a, b, and c are integers. Which prime numbers are of the form Q(x,y), for some integers x and y? This classical number theory question is connected to rich areas of math, including algebraic number theory, class field theory, and modular functions. This talk will introduce one of the fundamental elements of this theory: the group structure on equivalence classes of binary quadratic forms of a fixed discriminant.

For zoom info, please email

Friday, March 19, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, March 19, 2021

Benford's Law: Adventures in Undergraduate Research

AJ Hildebrand   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: If one makes a list of the areas of all 200 countries in the world, one finds that around 30 percent of those numbers begin with the digit 1, around 17 percent begin with the digit 2, while only around 5 percent begin with the digit 9. Similar frequencies of first digits have been observed in all sorts of real world data—from populations of cities to heights of tallest buildings to numbers in tax returns and numbers of Twitter followers. This near-universal phenomenon is called Benford's Law. In the first part of this talk I will give an overview of Benford's Law and its applications and explain the math behind it. In the second part I will focus on Benford's Law for mathematical sequences such as the powers of 2. I will describe an undergraduate research project that started out back in 2015 as an IGL project, then turned into a multi-year research adventure full of surprises and unexpected twists, and ended up being the most fun, rewarding, and interesting undergraduate research project I have ever supervised.

For zoom info, email

Friday, March 26, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, March 26, 2021

To Be Announced

Eliot Kaplan   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: TBA

Friday, April 2, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, April 2, 2021

Mathematics, big data, and mobility

Prof. Richard Sowers   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: We look at some mobility data from New York city from a mathematical perspective. We use several recent techniques from big data to identify patterns. Our interests will be traffic accidents, matrix decompositions, and the topology of congestion. The goal of the talk will be to understand how mathematics can help us understand some properties of complex human behavior.

For Zoom info, please contact Derek Thomas (

Friday, April 9, 2021

4:00 pm in Zoom,Friday, April 9, 2021

To Be Announced

Prof. Reuven Hodges   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: TBA

Friday, April 16, 2021

4:00 pm in Altgeld Hall,Friday, April 16, 2021

To Be Announced

Prof. Joey Palmer   [email] (UIUC Math)

Abstract: TBA