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Archive for July 2012

Using dynamical systems concepts to understand the climate change tipping point

With rising global temperatures accompanied by changes in weather and climate there is no question that the Earth is warming: the average temperature has risen by 1.4°F over the past century. But how do we know when we reach a tipping point, if we haven’t already?

With ongoing abrupt shifts of the climate system that have happened for decades, it’s hard to say when a threshold is reached. Hence, some scientists are now using mathematical observations and tools to answer the tipping-point question.

Marten Scheffer, a biologist at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, is trying to identify early-warning signals for climate change by using dynamical systems techniques to determine abrupt transitions that would precede such a tipping point.

By studying yearly recurring patterns of climate— rather than global average temperatures —Tim Lenton, a climate scientist at the University of Exeter in England has detected climate systems that could reach tipping points not too far in the future.

Research such as this, using principles from dynamical systems, could give valuable insights into the future of the climate system.

Read the full article on the New York Times site.

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Nonlinear math may help dolphins locate prey underwater

Dolphins are not called man’s best friends for nothing. The aquatic mammals’ ability to think nonlinearly may help improve man-made sonar.

Recent research, published in the latest Proceedings of the Royal Society A, shows that the aquatic mammals may be able to pinpoint prey hidden in bubbles by using some complex mental math.

The research was inspired when lead author Tim Leighton watched dolphins blow multiple tiny bubbles around their prey as they hunted during an episode of the Discovery Channel’s “Blue Planet.” Leighton speculated that these mammals—well-known for their superior intelligence—were probably using a sonar techniqute to track their prey, because the alternative explanation would be that they were just ‘blinding’ their sensory apparatus when hunting, which would likely deter the objective.

Based on this assumption, his research team modeled the types of echolocation pulses emitted by dolphins. Processing them using nonlinear mathematics was able to explain how dolphins are able to successfully hunt their prey with bubbles. While it is not conclusive that dolphins use nonlinear processing, using dolphin-like sonar pulses may help humans detect and identify objects in bubbly water. This may especially be helpful for the military to find objects, such as mines, in breaking waves and shallow waters.

Read a detailed article on Discovery News.

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SIAM Unwrapped 2012 Annual Meeting Wrap-up

 Dear SIAM members,

The 2012 SIAM Annual meeting, held jointly with the SIAM Conference on Financial Mathematics in Minneapolis, Minnesota earlier this month, was a huge success. With more than 1,100 attendees representing industrial, academic and government sectors from over 35 countries worldwide, the meeting inspired discussion on fundamental topics and cutting-edge research alike.

We thank all delegates for their participation, be it as attendees, presenters, or panelists. We would also like to extend thanks to the exhibitors for enhancing the attendee experience, and to IBM for their contribution as a sponsor.

Didn’t have the opportunity to be there? Just want to be reminded of how exciting it was?

Read on! From photo galleries to a recap of each day’s sessions, we’ve got you covered. Read the rest of this entry »

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14th International Conference in Approximation Theory

This is a paid announcement that appeared in SIAM News.

San Antonio, TX
April 7–10, 2013

Organizers: Greg Fasshauer and Larry Schumaker.

Invited Speakers: Peter Binev, Annalisa Buffa, Mike Floater, Kai Hormann, Gitta Kutyniok, Grady Wright, and Yuan Xu.

The seventh Vasil A. Popov Prize will be awarded at the meeting (for nominations go to

Papers in all areas of approximation theory will be organized into contributed sessions, and the organizers invite suggestions for minisymposia.

Travel Support: The organizers especially encourage students and postdocs to attend and to present their work, and hope to be able to provide some support for this group as well as for members of other underrepresented groups. An application form is available on the website.

Information: For details about the conference, readers should see

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Call for Nominations: CRM–Fields–PIMS Prize

This is a paid announcement that appeared in SIAM News.

The Centre de recherches mathématiques, the Fields Institute, and the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences invite nominations for the joint 2013 CRM–Fields–PIMS prize, awarded in recognition of exceptional research achievement in the mathematical sciences. The successful candidate’s research should have been conducted primarily in Canada or in affiliation with a Canadian university.

The prize was established as the CRM–Fields prize in 1994. Renamed in 2005, prizes awarded in 2006 and later have been chosen jointly by the three institutes. Previous recipients are H.S.M. Coxeter, George A. Elliott, James Arthur, Robert Moody, Stephen A. Cook, Israel Michael Sigal, William T. Tutte, John Friedlander, John McKay, Edwin Perkins, Donald Dawson, David Boyd, Nicole Tomczak-Jaegermann, Joel Feldman, Allan Borodin, Martin Barlow, Gordon Slade, Mark Lewis, and Stevo Todorcevic. The selection committee formed by the three institutes will select a recipient for the 2013 prize on the basis of outstanding contributions to the advancement of the mathematical sciences, with excellence in research as the main selection criterion. A monetary prize will be awarded, and the recipient will be asked to present a lecture at CRM, at the Fields Institute, and at PIMS.

Nominations, to be submitted by at least two sponsors of recognized stature, should include the following elements in a single PDF file: three supporting letters, curriculum vitae, a list of publications, and up to four preprints. Nominations should be submitted by November 1, 2012, and will remain active for two years. During any academic year, no more than one prize will be awarded. Nomination files should be submitted to: Only electronic submissions (of a single PDF file) will be accepted.

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SIAM-NSF Workshop on Modeling across the curriculum

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) was recently awarded a National Science Foundation grant for an initiative to increase mathematical modeling and computational applied mathematics in high school and college curricula. The effort is being led by SIAM Executive Director Jim Crowley and SIAM Vice President for Education Peter Turner (Clarkson University) with guidance from a Steering Committee representing several constituencies. Read the rest of this entry »

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NSF webinar on Graduate Education and Research this Thursday

The NSF Mathematical and Physical Sciences (MPS) Directorate and the Division of Human Resource Development (HRD) will host a webinar at 3 PM Eastern Time on Thursday, July 19.  The Webinar will discuss the Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program (NSF 12-554) and the MPS AGEP Graduate Research Student supplement opportunity.

The AGEP program is committed to the national goal of increasing the numbers of under-represented minorities (URMs), including African Americans, Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, as well as URMs with disabilities, in the science and engineering workforce.

The webinar will consist of three parts:

* Introduction by Dean Evasius, Head of the MPS Office of Multidisciplinary Activities

* Overview of the AGEP program by Jessie DeAro, AGEP Program Director, HRD

* Audience question and answer session

The webinar, to be hosted using WebEx online meeting software, will be recorded and made available for subsequent listening.  Registration is required.

Webinar registration deadline:  Wednesday, 7/18/2012 by 3:00 pm Eastern Time

The Webinar announcement and a link to the registration page is here.

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Roundup of Day 4 at AN12

Helmut Pottmann of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia, led the lineup of exciting talks Thursday with his discussion of Freeform Architecture and Discrete Differential Geometry. With the emergence of freeform structures, come interesting mathematical problems related to actual fabrication in contemporary architecture. Dr. Pottmann spoke about recent advances in geometric computing for such freeform architecture, with special emphasis on discrete differential geometry. Taking the audience through interesting structures such as meshes with planar quadrilateral faces and single curved panels, he discussed the many architectural applications of geometry. Read the rest of this entry »

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AN12 Overview of Day 3

Owly Images

Valeria Simoncini talks about Model-Assisted Effective Large Scale Matrix Computations (Photo credit: Nick Higham)

Valeria Simoncini of Universita’ di Bologna, Italy, gave an account of recent advances in the solution of large scale matrices. Many advanced mathematical models require the solution of large algebraic linear systems, making these models computationally effective. Dr. Simoncini described several state-of-the-art iterative linear system solvers in an invited talk titled Model-Assisted Effective Large Scale Matrix Computations. Examples included matrices and vectors which inherit spectral properties of underlying continuous operators. Read the rest of this entry »

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AN12 Day 2 Roundup

Representatives from SIAM Student Chapters worldwide met with SIAM Leadership in a breakfast meeting Tuesday to discuss ideas for funding and outreach. Representatives presented events and activities conducted by their respective chapters over the past year, offering ideas for future events, fundraising and public outreach. This was followed by research talks by six student presenters. Topics included mathematical modeling of Panama disease, simulation of red blood cell deformation and shape recovery, two-phase flows in fractured reservoirs, and green oxidation analysis, among others. View the AN12 Student Days presentation that gives an overview of various chapter activities over the past year. Read the rest of this entry »

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