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In Memoriam: Professor Larry Smolowitz

Dear Members of the HWS Community,

It is with great sadness that I write with the news that Professor Emeritus of Mathematics Larry Smolowitz passed away Friday, December 20, 2013 at Strong Memorial Hospital.

Professor Smolowitz retired from teaching in 2004 after nearly 40 years of distinguished service to the Colleges. A valued member of our community, Larry chaired the Department of Mathematics on a number of occasions and served important roles in faculty governance. He will perhaps be best remembered for his dedication to the intellectual development of his students and for the many kindnesses he showed them. I can recall many evenings when, during my walk home from Coxe Hall, Larry would be in his office meeting with students to help them better understand calculus, abstract algebra, and probability.

A gifted mathematician, Larry received his bachelor's degree from RPI and his doctorate from the University of Minnesota.

Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to Temple Beth-El, Geneva Scholarship Associates at HWS, the Parkinson Research Foundation, or a charity of one's choice.

Mark D. Gearan

Posted 24 December 2013

Jon Forde Receives Tenure

Professor Jonathan Forde has been granted tenure at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. With tenure, Forde becomes a permanent member of the faculty of the Colleges and of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. Tenure also carries a promotion from Assistant Professor to Associate Professor.

Tenure marks one of the most important milestones in the career of a professor. It is granted by the Board of Trustees after a careful review and recommendation by the Department, the faculty Committee on Tenure and Promotion, the Provost, and the President of the Colleges. The review generally takes place in the sixth year of teaching.

Posted 20 March 2013

New Faculty Join Department

The faculty of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science has three new members this Fall.

Professor Yan Hao joins the department in a tenure-track position in applied mathematics. She received her Ph.D. from the College of William and Mary and spent a year in a post-doctoral position at Arizona State University before coming to Hobart and William Smith Colleges. Her interests include Computational Biology and Numerical Analysis.

Professor Eric Nelson and Professor Mark Radosevich join the department as Visiting Assistant Professors of Mathematics for the 2012--13 academic year. Eric Nelson completed his Ph.D. at Colorado State University and is interested in group theory, finite geometry, and mathematics education. Mark Radosevich's Ph.D. is from Brandeis University; his interests include low-dimensional topology and mathematics education.


Posted 22 September 2012

Integrated Circuit Runs Again

Integrated Circuit, the Department's seven person running team again ran in this year's Seneca 7 Relay Race on April 28. The race is 77.7 miles around around Seneca Lake. Each runner completes three of the 21 different legs of the course which starts and ends in Geneva. The team finished in 10 hours, 41 minutes and 57 seconds (8:15 pace) which was good enough for 54th place out of 154 teams. While other teams from the Colleges competed, ours was the only department at HWS to field an entire team. Running for Integrated Circuit this year were: Top: Nicholas MacDonald (H'12), Trevor Gionet, (H '12), Professors Jon Forde, Stina Bridgeman, and Carol Critchlow. Bottom: Professor Kevin Mitchell and Abigael Blumenthal (WS '14). All of the faculty competed last year as well.

Posted 29 April 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