Category Archives: MAA

Cathy O’Neil On The (Un)Ethical Use of Data

This afternoon the MAA-AMS-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture was given by Cathy O’Neil, “Big data, inequality, and democracy.”

O’Neil started by giving on overview of what she calls a Weapon of Math Destruction. They are “creepy algorithms,” O’Neil says, ones that are used by large groups of people to make important decisions, and they are algorithms that are secret and unfair. O’Neil has talked about these sorts of algorithms on her blog and in her column for Bloomberg View.

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A Talk With Bad Drawings

This morning Ben Orlin gave the MAA Lecture for Students and Teachers, “Tic-Tac-Toe (or, What is Mathematics?)” as part of a day-long series of public lectures at the JMM. Orlin writes the blog Math With Bad Drawings, which was recently developed into a book of the same name. A charming high school math teacher with a knack for capturing poignant observations about math with google-eyed stick figures, his talk did not disappoint.

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A mathematical journey of culture, community, and collaboration

Good morning! It’s 9 AM and there are plenty of people out here to see the Friday MAA invited address. Alicia Prieto Langarica, who we saw at the session she organized yesterday (lots of posts: Equity in the Mathematics Classroom, Facing the Mirror, Undergraduate Research as the Greatest Equalizer, Math Mama Stories, and LATHISMS) gave a warm introduction of the “frankly astounding” Williams College professor, Pamela Harris.

Shoot, I accidentally sat right next to Anna Haensch, who was also planning on blogging and who co-writes the great AMS Blog on Math Blogs.  Well, I’m taking it.  Also, it was nice to meet Anna!  We’ve talked on the internet but haven’t met before. And Adriana Salerno, the editor of this blog, live-tweeted the talk.


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How to Talk about Math so People Want to Listen

Paul Zorn at St. Olaf College of the MAA Science Committee introduced Rachel Levy, the MAA Deputy Executive Director, and she then introduced Flora Lichtman, the host of Every Little Thing on Gimlet Media (she used to work for Science Friday). Flora, a non-math person and a professional nerdy journalist, told us:

The overarching picture is that telling stories is really hard.

Flora told us that there were three keys to talking about math so people want to listen.  It turned out that a lot of people want to talk about math so people want to listen!  It was a very crowded room.

I ended up on the floor in the very front, hence the angles for the photos…

  1. Who’s your audience?
  2. What’s your hook?
  3. What are your visuals?

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LATHISMS: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #7

Hi folks. I’m tired. This is the last talk in the series. Gabriel E Sosa of Amherst College is talking about:

LATHISMS: showcasing the contributions of Latinx and Hispanics to the mathematical sciences

Gabriel talked about his experience in graduate school and awakening to the fact that there weren’t that many well-known women in mathematics. He talked about Noether, and enjoying this poster by the AMS of women in mathematics:

Gabriel kept the audience cracking up with his relatable story of how he ended up creating the LATHISMS program, which involved a TurboTax commercial and hanging out with new friends. LATHISMS stands for something like LATinxs and HISpanics in the Mathematical Sciences.

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Math Mamas: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #6

Reporting from the floor for #4 in this live-blogging series. Carrie Diaz Eaton of Bates College introduced the series. Speakers are Becky E. Hall of Western Connecticut State University, Eaton, Piper Harron, and Eaton read an excerpt from Elizabeth Gross.

Two Math Mamas Tell Their Stories

The name of this talk isn’t quite right, since they have several other math mamas tell their stories. But it’s great! If you didn’t know, I (Yen) identify strongly with this session since I had two kids while getting my Ph.D.

This grass roots group of math mamas grew from a Facebook group and now includes an AMS Blog series, the website https://www.womendomath.org/ and a special July 2018 issue of the Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, which I personally highly recommend.

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Undergraduate Research as an Equalizer: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #5

Alicia Prieto Langarica of Youngstown State University, who also co-organized this session, started her talk by telling us that she wouldn’t use the words “diversity” or “equity” or “Latinx” etc. and challenged us audience members to think about why she wouldn’t be using these words.

I’m a little frazzled right now because I live-blogged the last two talks and I ran off to see a friend talk in the HBCU session, but his flight was delayed so then I ran back to go to this session.  Alicia is trying to push the audience into talking and interacting and it is delightful.

Here are posts #1 and #2 in this series:

MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #3

MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #4

Undergraduate Research as the Greatest Equalizer

She opened with a series of statistics: about half of the people who intend to be math majors end up dropping out, and about 10% of math B.A.s end up going on to get a math Ph.D. (but not really, because the number of math Ph.D.s also includes international students. So the actual ratio is much lower.)

If the math major is preparing students to be academic mathematicians, then of course students won’t major in math. But people in industry do want mathematicians and students who can think logically and mathematically competently and who can translate real life problems into math problems, who have communication skills who can work with others.  So how can we mathematicians help students prepare for careers in industry, by using our tools of mathematics research?

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Facing the Mirror: Acknowledgment in our Practice: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #4

I had some technical difficulties and we’ve unfortunately lost the first few minutes of Aris Benjamin Winger of Georgia Gwinnett College, who co-facilitated the program in the last post. I remember that he discussed creating a safe space to talk about race and equity and mathematics on campus as well.

Facing the Mirror: Acknowledgement in our Practices

In his talk, Aris called out the audience (in a good way) to acknowledge our own biases and our own fraught histories with racism, sexism, and treating students in a disparate manner.

We don’t get to pick how people show up in front of us. We don’t get to pick our initial reaction to them.

Aris showed us a slide of three different people, a black man, a white man, and a black woman in six different outfits and styling.

“We treat people differently based on how they look,” he said. “We treat people who are white differently from people of color.”

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Equity in the Mathematics Classroom: MAA Invited Paper Session on Inspiring Diversity in Mathematics: Culture, Community, and Collaboration, talk #3

Good morning JMM!  I’m blogging this morning from this great diversity session, moderated by Pamela Harris of Williams College, Alicia Prieto Langarcia of Youngstown State University, and Chat Topaz of Williams College. I missed talks #1 and #2 this morning, but I’ll be here for the rest of the session.

Equity in the Mathematics Classroom

Michael Young of Iowa State University talked about equity in the K-12 classroom. With his Designing for Equity by Thinking program, they worked in Pittsburgh Public Schools, which are over 70% black students and over 70% white teachers.

We narrowed in on race, we narrowed in on mathematics throughout the entire project.

The purpose of the project was to decrease the opportunity gap: they wanted to educate the teachers about groups of students who didn’t have the same opportunities as their peers. Michael talked about how this project helped him as a parent, a community member, and a teacher personally as well.

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