Author Archives: Beth Malmskog

Math is Beautiful: A Snapshot from the JMM Exhibits Hall

Diana Davis with earrings

Diana Davis at the Math is Beautiful booth in aisle 200 of the exhibit hall.

There is so much beautiful math in the exhibits hall–seriously, there is no way I could give a survey of everything down here!  So instead I’ll just share a snapshot (or a few) of one of the great exhibitors. Diana Davis is a mathematician studying periodic billiard paths (primarily on pentagons!), a Visiting Assistant Professor at Swarthmore, and Artist/Creative Chief/CEO of Math is Beautiful (“But it’s just me,” Diana says when I run this title by her–yes, she is the sole employee of her small company).  She makes and sells earrings, coasters, T-shirts, and other items featuring her mathematical creations/discoveries and social justice.  I stopped by to see Diana’s Math is Beautiful booth in aisle 200 of the exhibits hall (100 level of the Baltimore Convention Center).  She also has two beautiful pieces in the Mathematical Art Exhibit (right next to her booth in the Exhibits Hall).

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AMS Colloquium Lectures: Benedict Gross and “Complex Multiplication: Past, Present, Future”

Benedict Gross, this year's AMS Colloquium series lecturer.

Benedict Gross, this year’s AMS Colloquium series lecturer.

Benedict Gross kicked off his series of talks in the AMS Colloquium Lectures on Tuesday by speaking about the past, with a plan to reach the future of Number Theory by Friday.  Gross, former MacArthur Fellow and winner of the Cole Prize in Number Theory is the George Vasmer Leverett Professor of Mathematics, Department of Mathematics, Harvard University. The series, entitled “Complex Multiplication: Past, Present, Future,” considers the interplay between imaginary quadratic fields and the theory of elliptic curves. The area “has a long and twisted history,” according to Gross. The first talk covered the two hundred years from 1751 to 1951, beginning with Euler reviewing Fagnano’s work on the lemniscate, and beginning his investigations of “elliptic integrals”  of the form

\[\int\frac{dx}{\sqrt{ax^3+bx^2+cx+d}},\]

which lead to elliptic curves. Legendre and Gauss studied positive definite binary forms up to equivalence under the special linear group SL_2(Z).  The number of equivalence classes of forms with a given discriminant is called the class number of the discriminant.  The connection between these class numbers (and their modern variants) and elliptic curves becomes the story of complex multiplication.

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AWM Capitol Hill Visit at JMM 2019

Group in front of statue on visit.

The AWM group in front of the Alexander Calder statue in the Hays Building in Washington DC.

Tuesday morning, when many folks were finishing up last minute packing and checking flights, I was getting on a bus to Washington DC with around fifty other members of the Association for Women in Mathematics (AWM). The mission: meet with legislators about important issues for women in mathematics. More generally, we were there to talk about supporting STEM research, education, and careers, promoting equity and inclusion in the field, and some legislation that we believe would work toward these goals. The AWM has been organizing advocacy trips to Capitol Hill in Washington DC for several years now. Of course, as I write, the Joint Mathematics Meetings has brought over 5000 mathematicians to Baltimore to talk some serious (and not so serious) math. The AWM planned a visit for Tuesday to take advantage of this confluence, so close to the nation’s capital. This was the largest Hill visit of the program, with 50 participants visiting 47 congressional offices, speaking with legislators and their staff members spanning 18 different states. AWM groups met with 33 Democrats, 13 Republicans, and 1 Independent. The participants were fairly evenly drawn from undergraduate students, graduate students, academic faculty, and business/industry/government mathematicians.

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