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Yaoxin Liu Honors Project

Yaoxin Liu, H'12, has completed an Honors project titled, "A Mathematical Model: Hepatitis B and Hepatitis D Co-infection." An Honors project is a year-long endeavor culminating in a long Honors thesis and an oral examination by a committee of three examiners. Here is a description of his project: "In this honors project, mathematical models are developed to describe the interaction between human liver cells, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis delta virus (HDV). HDV is a dependent virus that can only infect patients who are also HBV-infected, and it causes more severe damage to liver cells than HBV alone. This project is an extension of previous research, which focused on analyzing the impact of immune exhaustion on HBV and HDV infections. Shifting the emphasis to the dynamics of the infections, this honors project will shed light on what causes the severe damage to liver cells. Mathematical models of the system are built from a simpler model of a single infection and used to explore the possible outcomes of HBV and HDV co-infection. Computer simulations are also created to support analytical results. Manipulation the magnitude of different parameters has helped in understanding how different host and viral factors affect the severity of disease." Yaoxin's advisor on this project was Professor Jon Forde.

Posted 13 April 2012

Marcela Melara Honors Project

Marcela Melara, WS'12, has completed an Honors project titled, "ELARA: Environmental Liaison and Automated Recycling Assistant." An Honors project is a year-long endeavor culminating in a long Honors thesis and an oral examination by a committee of three examiners. Here is a description of Marcela's project: "One environmental issue we face today is dealing with the large amounts of landfill garbage. While many efforts are already being made to increase recycling, many people still have trouble identifying and sorting recyclable materials. In order to improve this situation, I designed and built ELARA. This is a new system that facilitates recycling and waste sorting by helping people identify the items which are recyclable and those which are not. The most immediately noticeable aspect of ELARA is a networked kiosk to help users sort their waste correctly. The kiosk is the front end of a larger system of hardware and software." Marcela's advisor for this project was Professor John Vaughn.

Posted 13 April 2012

Shaun Viguerie Honors Project

Shaun Viguerie H'12 has completed an Honors project entitled "ISTAT: Online Interface for Hypothesis Testing." An Honors project is a year-long endeavor that culminates with a long Honors thesis and an oral examination by a committee of three examiners. Here is a description of his project: "This honors project involved the creation of an online statistical software application (called ISTAT) for hypothesis testing. The package has a user-friendly interface, and is able to work with data from a variety of different sources. Designed for student use, it supports hypothesis tests commonly covered in introductory statistics courses. The core functionality of the application lies in JavaScript libraries, making it easily extendable. By utilizing many modern web technologies, the project demonstrates the improving capabilities of the web as a platform for complex applications." Shaun's advisor for this project was Professor David Eck.

Posted 13 April 2012

News from Max Beckett

Max Beckett '11 writes as he nears the halfway point in a Master's degree program in computer science at Northeastern University. Max, who was a double major in mathematics and computer science, is working with a research group known as the ReConfigurable Lab (RCL). He has been spending his time there working on GPGPU (General-Purpose computing on Graphics Processing Units), an attempt to harness the immense computing power of modern graphics cards for other purposes than graphics. Max first started work on this field for an independent study at HWS. This summer, Max will have a internship with Mathworks, the company that makes MatLab, doing more work with GPUs for their Parallel Computing Toolbox.

Posted 22 March 2012

Movie Night: The Proof

For over 350 years, some of the greatest minds of science struggled to prove what was known as Fermat's Last Theorem -- the idea that a certain simple equation had no solutions. Now hear from the man who spent seven years of his life cracking the problem, read the intriguing story of an 18th century woman mathematician who hid her identity in order to work on Fermat's Last Theorem, and demonstrate that a related equation, the Pythagorean Theorem, is true.

Andrew Wiles devoted much of his career to proving Fermat's Last Theorem, a challenge that perplexed the best minds in mathematics for 300 years. In 1993, he made front-page headlines when he announced a proof of the problem, but this was not the end of the story; an error in his calculation jeopardized his life's work. In this interview, Wiles recounts how he came to terms with the mistake, and eventually went on to achieve his life's ambition.

The department will show the movie on Thursday, December 1st at 7:30pm in Albright Auditorium. Refreshments will be provided. Bring your friends!

Posted 23 November 2011

If Copernicus and Kepler Had Computers: An Introduction to Model-Building and Computational Science

On Thursday, November 17th at 5:00pm, Dr. Charles Van Loan, a SIAM Visiting Lecturer, will give a talk in Napier 201 that connects mathematics and computer science. If you watch Mars against the backdrop of the fixed stars, then night after night you'll see rather steady progress across the zodiac. But every so often, the planet appears to "back-up" before continuing on its forward trek. This periodic, retrograde motion wreaks havoc with a model of the solar system that places each planet on a steadily rotating circle with Earth at the center. Ptolemy did a pretty good job patching up the model by placing each planet on a small rotating circle whose center is on the rim of a larger rotating circle. The path traced out is called an epicycle and it offers some explanation for Mars' orbital wanderings. The epicycle model lasted for centuries until Copernicus set the record straight by suggesting that the Earth revolved around the sun along with the other planets. But would he have been so bold a scientist if he had access to 2011 computers? Or would he have just mouse-clicked his way into fame, developing a simulation package that supported further tinkering with the Ptolemaic model? (Refreshments will be served.)

Posted 11 November 2011

A Mathematical Model of T Cell Exhaustion Caused by HBV/HDV

On Wednesday, November 9th at 4:30pm, Hobart Mathematics Major Yaoxin Liu '12 will discuss his summer research project in Napier 201. In patients with chronic hepatitis B infection, the immune system becomes exhausted, losing its effectiveness over time. Co-infection with another virus, Hepatitis Delta, reduces the amount of HBV in the blood, and so may relieve the exhaustion. During the Summer Research Program last summer, Yixiao Sha, Yaoxin Liu and Prof. Jonathan Forde developed an ordinary differential equation model of the interactions of these two viruses and the immune system to study the effect of a second infection on immune exhaustion. Sha, Liu and Forde started by studying the four dimensional model with only HBV infection, and then added the second virus, HDV. They also analyzed various steady states and their stability for both systems. All the stability conditions are found for the four dimensional system with only HBV infection. For the five dimensional system with HDV, numerical simulations show the existence of positive steady states representing chronic coinfection. The model suggests that co-infection does not reduce the exhaustion level, but increases damage due to general inflammation. (Refreshments will be served beforehand.)

Posted 4 November 2011

Mathematical Models of Bone Biochemistry with Applications to the Treatment of Osteoporosis

On Wednesday, October 26th at 4:30pm in Napier 201 the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science will host Dr. David Ross of Rochester Institute of Technology. Dr. Ross is a SIAM Visiting Lecturer and will be giving a talk entitled: "Mathematical Models of Bone Biochemistry with Applications to the Treatment of Osteoporosis".

In humans and other mammals the skeleton is continuously remodeled, that is, dissolved and rebuilt; human bone has an annual turnover rate of about 10 percent. Understanding the biochemical processes of bone remodeling is important to the development of treatments for the disease osteoporosis, which is characterized by low bone mass, and which puts those who have it at risk of bone fractures. Osteoporosis results from an imbalance in the biochemical remodeling process, when resorption-the chemical breakdown of old bone-outstrips the formation of new bone. The most common cause of osteoporosis is age-related hormone change, the reduction of estrogen in women after menopause, and the reduction of testosterone in older men. Roughly 20 percent of women over the age of 50 have osteoporosis.

In this talk Professor Ross will discuss dynamical system models of bone remodeling that are used to simulate bone remodeling and to study the effects of various treatments for the condition. He will focus on the ways in which the dynamical systems capture the important biochemical features of the remodeling process, and he will discuss modeling methodology and the ways in which models are used. (Refreshments will be served beforehand.)

Posted 20 October 2011

Two-faced: The Cantor set and notions of size

The department will host the first colloquium of the semester with Dr. Emilie Wiesner of Ithaca College speaking about the Cantor set. The Cantor set is a specially constructed infinite set; it has earned its name from an appearance in an 1883 paper of the mathematician Georg Cantor. The Cantor set has many remarkable properties, and Dr. Wiesner will be talking about a few of them. In particular, she'll discuss how two ways of defining size ("measure" and "cardinality") lead to two very different ideas of how big this set really is! The talk will take place on Thursday, September 29th at 4:45pm in Napier 201. Refreshments will be served beforehand.

Posted 23 September 2011

Departing Faculty

With the beginning of Fall semester, 2011, two faculty members have left the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Professor Marc Corliss has accepted a new job working for Google in New York City. Professor Scotty Orr, who for the past few years has worked half time in teaching and half time in system administration, has resigned from that position.

Posted 23 August 2011