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The world, through a mathematical lens

Free Math Modeling handbook published by SIAM

Free Math Modeling handbook published by SIAM

Math modeling handbook now available

Philadelphia, PA—Math comes in handy for answering questions about a variety of topics, from calculating the cost-effectiveness of fuel sources and determining the best regions to build high-speed rail to predicting the spread of disease and assessing roller coasters on the basis of their “thrill” factor. How does math do all that?

That is the topic of a free handbook published by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) this month: “Math Modeling: Getting Started and Getting Solutions.”

Finding a solution to any of the aforementioned problems—or the multitude of other unanswered questions in the real world—will likely involve the creation, application, and refinement of a mathematical model. A math model is a mathematical representation of a real-world situation intended to gain a qualitative or quantitative understanding in order to predict future behavior. Such predictions allow us to come up with novel findings, enable scientific advances, and make informed decisions.

The handbook provides instructions and a process for building mathematical models using a variety of examples to answer wide-ranging questions. Read the rest of this entry »

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SIAM VT Chapter hosts SIAM Past President Nick Trefethen

Boris Kramer of the Virginia Tech SIAM chapter gives us a recap of the Past President’s visit to VT: 

The SIAM Student Chapter at Virginia Tech was excited to welcome Dr. Nick Trefethen, former SIAM president, to our campus in Blacksburg, VA. Dr. Trefethen was a guest of the College of Science’s Academy of Integrated Science. He gave the initial lecture in the distinguished lecture series associated with the Computational Modeling and Data Analytics initiative. Dr Trefethen also kindly agreed to give a special talk for the Virginia Tech SIAM Student Chapter, which was attended by both graduate and undergraduate students. Dr. Trefethen talked about Chebfun, an extensive Matlab computing toolbox based on Chebyshev approximations of continuous functions. During the presentation, we were able to interactively try out various features of the toolbox on our laptops, which was very insightful and fun. Overall, this event successfully broadened our chapter’s visibility on campus and was a nice add-on to our regular biweekly speaker series.

Read the rest of this entry »

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First Annual Howard County Math Festival

On Wednesday January 29th, Centennial High School held the first annual Howard County Math Festival. Dr. Jeffrey Sieracki, President of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section, had the opportunity to organize a presentation which illustrated various every day occurrences that could be modeled using mathematics.

Pictured: (L-R) Jonathan McHenry (President of SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC), Cherre Jefferson (SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC Officer), Stefan Doboszczak (SIAM Member at UMCP), Stephanie Young (SIAM Member at UMCP), Dr. Jeff Sieracki (President of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section), Zana Coulibaly (SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC Webmaster) and Dr. Matthias K. Gobbert (Professor of Mathematics, UMBC)

Pictured: (L-R) Jonathan McHenry (President of SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC), Cherre Jefferson (SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC Officer), Stefan Doboszczak (SIAM Member at UMCP), Stephanie Young (SIAM Member at UMCP), Dr. Jeff Sieracki (President of the SIAM Washington-Baltimore Section), Zana Coulibaly (SIAM Student Chapter at UMBC Webmaster) and Dr. Matthias K. Gobbert (Professor of Mathematics, UMBC)

SIAM Student Chapter members from UMBC (Jonathan S. McHenry, Zana Coulibaly, Cherre Jefferson) and students from UMCP (Stefan Doboszczak, Stephanie Young) volunteered to join Dr Sieracki in order to promote mathematics by sharing our experiences as young mathematicians. We were fortunate to be in attendance and enjoyed conversing with other math lovers of all ages as well as interacting with the SIAM members from UMCP.

However, the fun did not stop there. Not only did the SIAM student chapter members have the opportunity to interact with plenty of eager K-12 students, but we were also surrounded by other representatives who were equally STEM-passionate. Various companies, organizations, and university departments, such as statisticians from the Baltimore Orioles, the UMBC Department of Mathematics and Statistics, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Kumon were also in attendance. Some of the presentations included learning what prime number your name is, the statistics of baseball, mathematical poetry, the intersection between animation and mathematics, mathematics education, and the list goes on. This event had a great turnout and students got the opportunity to witness firsthand that math is more than just manipulating numbers with algebra.

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Welcome to the newest SIAM Student Chapters

SIAM welcomes the newest student chapters formed at the following schools:

Brigham Young University

California State Polytechnic University Pomona 

City University of New York

Colorado College

University of Pennsylvania


For more information about forming a chapter at your school, go to and check out the slide show at

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Pathways program internships at NASA Langley Research Center

Courtesy of  NASA Langley Research Center:

The Systems Analysis and Concepts Directorate of the NASA Langley Research Center (Hampton VA) is anticipating an opening of several intern positions via the Pathways program, which provides opportunities for students and recent  graduates to be considered for Federal employment. Please see the attached flyer for details. In brief, this is a development program, potentially leading to a research position in civil service. Along with academic work, a student would be working with a NASA mentor on problems of interest.

The currently anticipated positions include one for modeling, design (optimization) and control of complex engineered systems and complex adaptive systems (such as air transportation). For this position, either an M.S. or a Ph.D. student would be considered. Strong background and/or active interest in mathematical modeling, control, optimization, statistics and probability methods for uncertainty management and data analysis are a big plus.

If your current or prospective graduate students would be interested in this program, with a potential of joining NASA research workforce, please let me know at and I will send you the link to the job announcement on as soon as it becomes available. Please note that U.S. citizenship is required.

Please find full details on the Pathways flier and the NASA website here.


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George Mason University SIAM Student Chapter update!

The SIAM GMU chapter participated as graders and proctors for the 2014 Northern Virginia Regional MATHCOUNTS Competition on Saturday, February 1. The 31st annual MATHCOUNTS Competition brought together 467 students from 55 different middle and elementary schools, making this event the largest in the state and one of the largest in the country. MATHCOUNTS is a national enrichment program that promotes  mathematics achievement among middle school students. This year’s event was attended by members of the National Board of MATHCOUNTS.

Members of the GMU SIAM Chapter with the Northern VA Regional Coordinator Ray Powell and a National MATHCOUNTS board member Manuael Deponte. From L to R: Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Christopher Gray, Adam Moskey, Emily Eastlake, Manuael Deponte, Ray Powell, Diego Torrejon, Marylin Vazquez, Olivia Brozek, and Tom Stephens.

Members of the GMU SIAM Chapter with the Northern VA Regional Coordinator Ray Powell and a National MATHCOUNTS board member Manuael Deponte. From L to R: Dr. Padmanabhan Seshaiyer, Christopher Gray, Adam Moskey, Emily Eastlake, Manuael Deponte, Ray Powell, Diego Torrejon, Marylin Vazquez, Olivia Brozek, and Tom Stephens.


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Student Chapter Funding 2013-14

SIAM awarded a total of $39,042 to the following 81 chapters for activities taking place during the 2013-2014 academic year. Activities include seminars, workshops, regional student conferences, guest lectures, special presentations and field trips. For more information, go to and click on the school name for SIAM’s Information Page or click on the home icon to go to the Chapter’s own homepage.

Arizona State University
Auburn University
California State University, Fresno
California State University, Stanislaus
Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic Read the rest of this entry »

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Outstanding undergrad research in SIURO last month

SIAM Undergraduate Research Online, SIAM’s web-based publication often referred to as SIURO, publishes outstanding undergraduate research in applied and computational mathematics. Two types of articles can be found in SIURO: papers to which undergraduates have made a significant contribution, and expository (survey) papers of high quality written by a faculty member or researcher for an undergrad audience.

The latest paper by Ling Han Meng, Joseph Geumlek, Holly Chu, Justin Hoogenstyrd under their advisor Ernie Esser is called Contextual Point Matching for Video Stabilization. The paper explores the many videos that suffer from a shaking or moving camera that distract viewers from the subject or scene. The authors describe a process called video stabilization which uses software to fix unwanted movements. Their method attempts to find point correspondences in subsequent frames of footage with great success, according to the authors. Video stabilization not only provides better results compared to other methods, it can also be implemented without significantly increasing computational costs. 

Additional papers will be posted online as they are accepted.

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Summer 2014 Research Opportunities for Undergraduates

From SIAM News, Volume 47, Number 1, January/February 2014

Undergraduates who are looking for summer research opportunities are encouraged to visit the National Science Foundation’s “Search for an REU Site” Web page at and click on the “Mathematical Sciences” link. Students can also find research opportunities in the mathematical sciences that have been identified by SIAM News press time, funded both by NSF and by other institutions, listed below.

***Argonne National Laboratory Student Research Participation Programs, May 27-August 1

***Argonne National Laboratory DOE Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internships, May 27-August 1

***Arizona State University Mathematical and Theoretical Biology Institute Summer Program, June 4-July 25

***Auburn University, TBA

***Boise State University, May 26-August 1

***Brigham Young University, TBA

***California State University, Chico, TBA

***California State University, San Bernadino, June 30-August 22

***Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program for Women Undergraduates, June 22-July 20

***Carnegie Mellon University 2011 Summer Undergraduate Applied Mathematics Institute, May 27-July 22

***Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, June 3-August 9

***College of William and Mary, June 2-July 25

***Cornell University, June 16-August 8

***Department of Homeland Security STEM Summer Internships, May 5-August 29

***East Tennessee State University, TBA

***Emory University, June-July, TBA

***Fairfield University, June 2-July 25

***George Mason University, TBA

***Grand Valley State University, June 15-August 10

***Hope College, June 2-July 25

***ICERM: Summer@ICERM: Geometry and Dynamics, June 16-August 8

***Illinois State University, TBA

***Indiana University Bloomington, June 8-August 2

***Iowa State University, TBA

***Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics, June 22-August 22

***James Madison University, June 2-July 25

***Kansas State University, May 27-July 22

***Kent State University, TBA

***Lafayette College, June 1-July 26

***LA-SiGMA REU:  Interdisciplinary Research Experiences in Materials Science, end of May 2014-early August; program dates vary by university

***Louisiana State University, on sabbatical in 2014

***LSU Center for Computation and Technology, May 26-August 1

***Macalester College and IMA, June 9-July 18

***Marquette University, TBA

***Mathematical Association of America NREUP, TBA

***Mathematical Sciences Research Institute Summer Program, June 21-August 3

***Miami University (Ohio), June 9-July 25

***Michigan State University, May 28-July 25

***Missouri State University, June 9-August 1

***Mount Holyoke College, TBA

***NIST Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program, May 19­-August 1

***North Carolina State University, May 27-August 1

***Oakland University, TBA

***Ohio State University Mathematical Biosciences Institute, June 2-August 15

***Ohio Wesleyan University, May 19-July 25

***Oregon State University, June 23-August 15

***Penn State University, July 2-August 13

***Rice University Summer Institute of Statistics, TBA

***Rochester Institute of Technology, TBA

***Rutgers University, DIMACS, June 2-August 2

***Rutgers University DIMACS/DIMATIA, TBA

***Sam Houston State University, TBA

***San Diego State University, June 15-August 9

***Santa Fe Institute, June 8-August 16

***South Dakota State University, June 2-July 26

***SUNY Potsdam/Clarkson University, May 28-July 22

***Texas A&M University, June 2-July 25

***UCLA Logic Center Summer School for Undergraduates, TBA

***University of California, Santa Barbara, June 23-August 15

***University of Maryland, Baltimore County, June 16-August 8

***University of Minnesota, June 16-August 8

***University of Minnesota Duluth, June 8-August 14

***University of Nebraska, Lincoln, TBA

***University of North Carolina, Greensboro, June 2-July 26

***University of Texas at Tyler, TBA

***University of Utah, TBA

***University of Washington, TBA

***University of Wisconsin Stout, June 1-July 26

***University of Wyoming, TBA

***Ursinus College, TBA

***Valparaiso University, May 28-July 30

***Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Tech, TBA

***Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech), TBA

***Willamette University, June 16-August 8

***Williams College, June 16-August 15

***WPI Center for Industrial Mathematics and Statistics, May 28-July 25

Information about REUs in 2014 can be sent to


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Virginia Tech SIAM chapter meets with mathematicians in industry

Boris Kramer from the Virginia Tech SIAM chapter updates us on a trip to meet industry representatives in the field: 

For the first time, the SIAM student chapter at Virginia Tech organized a trip to meet with industry representatives from the Washington DC metropolitan area on October 18th, 2013. In addition to our biweekly seminars with graduate or faculty speakers from science and engineering departments, we already added more to SIAM’s academic component by having our first graduate poster session this past spring. See a SIAM blog post about this event.

However, we felt that SIAM’s “I” component was continuously underrepresented in our activities. To overcome this, we had long been thinking about organizing an event with exposure to industry. However, organizing and making such an event happen requires a lot of work. In our faculty advisor, Dr. Lizette Zietsman, and the Director of the Interdisciplinary Center for Applied Mathematics, Dr. Terry Herdman we had two great and very supportive faculty members; without their contacts in industry and experience in organization, this event couldn’t have happened. Read the rest of this entry »

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