1998-1999 "In Review"
To keep our readers informed of recent developments in the Mathematics Department, the following is a review of activities not previously reported in PUrview.
Academic Program Highlights
Mathematics Major Recruiting
In 1998-1999, we started putting more emphasis on connecting with middle and high school mathematics teachers, who we see as potential advocates for the recruitment of excellent students to major in mathematics. Professors Catlin and Cowen attended the fall meeting of the Indiana Council of Teachers of Mathematics to promote Purdue's majors in Mathematics, Statistics, and Actuarial Science. Personal contact was made with about 300 Indiana teachers at the day and a half meeting.
In addition, the department put an emphasis on offering scholarships to promising prospective students. In particular, we made an effort to offer larger scholarships and offer them earlier than in previous years. At this time, it appears that these efforts are successful and will continue in the future.
In response to plans by the two major actuarial professional societies to make major changes in their examination structure in spring 2000, Stephen Samuels, Professor of Statistics and Mathematics and Director of the Actuarial Science Program, has been working on revisions of the program. New degree requirements went into effect on June 1. The revisions in the program include creation of new courses, modification of exisitng courses, and negotiating with the Krannert School for guaranteed access to necessary management courses. The revisions have been carried out with the advice of the Actuarial Advisory Council, Deans James Dworkin and Logan Jordan of Krannert, the Mathematics and Statistics Undergraduate Committees, and colleagues, Professors Johnny Brown, Jin Ma, Philip Protter and William Studden, who teach relevant courses.
Hosted by Professor Rodrigo Bañuelos, William A. Massey, of Bell Laboratories of Lucent Technologies, delivered the 1998 School of Science Minority Scientist Lecture in September.
Professor Alexandre Eremenko and Visiting Scholar Mario Bonk found the best constant, called the Spherical Bloch constant, for an inequality describing distortion of meromorphic functions. While there had previously been estimates for this constant, it was completely unexpected that anyone could find its precise value.
Professor Laszlo Lempert has discovered and studied analogues of the Cauchy-Riemann equations for functions defined on infinite dimensional spaces. The usual Cauchy-Riemann equations (for functions defined on the plane) determine which functions are analytic. Besides being important in mathematical theory, infinite dimensional spaces are found in applications in physics, chemistry, geology, and statistics.
Professor Kenji Matsuki, along with co-authors D. Abramovich, K. Karu, and J. Wlodarczyk, confirmed an old conjecture on weak factorization of birational maps. This is a significant step forward in work over the past century to understand the birational structure of nonsingular algebraic varieties.
The Mathematics Department sponsored a career night in October 1998 at which two alumni described the importance of their mathematics major in their careers to an audience of Purdue students, parents, and middle and high school students and teachers. Speakers were Donna Osborn, mathematics teacher at Lafayette Jefferson High School, and Larry Stone, Senior Vice President and COO of Metron Incorporated, a consulting firm near Washington, D.C.
The student-run Actuary Club, again this year, sponsored a series of presentations by insurance companies, both in connection with on-campus recruiting and as general development of awareness of the actuarial career. About 15 companies came for interviews in the Department in 1998-1999, and about 15 companies participated in a Career Fair in the fall that was sponsored by the Club.
Representatives from about 10 organizations made formal presentations in the fall courses for freshmen, MA 108 and SCI 170. In addition, representatives from several companies gave students the opportunity to talk with them informally in the Math Library lounge at various times during the year. This contact with companies and government broadens the perspective of our students and provides us with an opportunity to talk with representatives about their needs and about our students' capabilities.
The editors of Computational & Applied Mathematics honored Professor Jim Douglas, Jr. by designating volume 17, issue 3, 1998 as a "Special issue in honor of Jim Douglas, Jr.'s 70th birthday."
Professor Michael Drazin retired May 1999. Associate Professors Antonio Sa Barreto and Jeffrey H. Smith were promoted to Professor. Associate Professor Zhiqiang Cai was awarded tenure.
Dr. Hans Walther will join the faculty in August 2000 as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. He will spend 1999-2000 at MSRI. Dr. Donatella Danielli will join the faculty in August 2001 as Assistant Professor of Mathematics. She will spend 1999-2001 at Johns Hopkins and Mittag-Leffler.