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SIAM Unwrapped November 2015

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Dear SIAM members,

I’m thrilled to introduce myself to you as the new editor of SIAM’s Unwrapped e-newsletter. I’m passionate about SIAM’s mission and keeping you – our members – up to date with relevant and timely news you can use, as well as arming you with the tools you need to get involved and play a part in our efforts to continue bringing the mathematical sciences into the spotlight – a goal I’m confident that we share.  If you have content ideas, questions or qualms, don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly at

Thanks for reading!

Becky Kerner
Editor Read the rest of this entry »

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Merck Researcher Jeff Sachs on mathematical models for drug discovery

Jeff Sachs of Merck Research Laboratories explains how mathematical models can make seemingly insurmountable amounts of data in medicine and biotechnology more manageable and informative. How can models be designed to uncover information we need from medical data in order to determine actions to be taken and decisions to be made in drug discovery and development?

Watch the video to learn how:

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Machine Learning for various applications

The extraordinary success of search engines, recommendation systems, and speech and image recognition software suggests that future advances in these technologies could have a major impact in our lives. In this talk, we discuss modern intelligent-algorithmic systems based on sophisticated statistical learning models and powerful optimization techniques. One can envision new algorithms that operate in the stochastic or batch settings, and that take full advantage of parallelism. We review our remarkable understanding of classical stochastic approximation techniques, and pose some open questions. The lecture concludes with a discussion of modern neural nets and the demands they impose on optimization methods.At the 2014 SIAM Annual Meeting Jorge Nocedal talked about all this and more. Watch the video!

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The mathematics of electricity costs [Video]

In this video from the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting, Alejandro Jofré of Universidad de Chile considers a wholesale electricity market model with generators interacting strategically and general networks including externalities such as transmission losses. Previous work shows how mechanisms such as the case when prices correspond to the Lagrange multipliers of a centralized cost minimization program allow the producers to charge significantly more than marginal price. This situation originates an important regulatory problem. In this presentation we consider an incomplete information setting where the cost structure of a producer is unknown to both its competitor and the regulator. We derive an optimal regulation mechanism and compare its performance to the “price equal to Lagrange multiplier”. Watch the video:

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Jamology – the mathematics of traffic jams [Video]

Jamming phenomena are seen in various transportation system including cars, buses, pedestrians, ants and molecular motors, which are considered as “self-driven particles”. This interdisciplinary research on jamming of self-driven particles has been recently termed “jamology”. This is based on mathematical physics and includes engineering applications as well. In his talk at the 2013 SIAM Annual Meeting, Katsuhiro Nishinari of the University of Tokyo traced the background of this research: simple mathematical models, such as the asymmetric simple exclusion process and the Burgers equation, were introduced as the basis of all kinds of traffic flow. This was then extended in order to account for various traffic phenomena, and the comparison between theory and experiment was given to show that the models are able to capture fundamental features of observations. Watch the video!

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Mathematicians tackle global issues

 Philadelphia, PA– More than 100 academic institutions and scholarly societies have joined in a major world-wide initiative: Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) 2013. This year-long effort will highlight the contributions made by mathematics in tackling global problems, including natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis; climate change; sustainability; and pandemics. MPE2013 partners will sponsor workshops, research conferences, public lectures, outreach events, and educational opportunities for all ages.  Each country from a partner institution will host a special launch to the year.

MPE2013 enjoys the patronage of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization.  The Director-General of UNESCO, Irena Bokova, said, “UNESCO strongly supports this extraordinary collaboration of mathematicians around the world to advance research on fundamental questions about planet Earth, to nurture a better understanding of global issues, to help inform the public, and to enrich the school curriculum about the essential role of mathematics in the challenges facing our planet.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Math detects contamination in water distribution networks

Philadelphia, PA—None of us want to experience events like the Camelford water pollution incident in Cornwall, England, in the late eighties, or more recently, the Crestwood, Illinois, water contamination episode in 2009 where accidental pollution of drinking water led to heart-wrenching consequences to consumers, including brain damage, high cancer risk, and even death. In the case of such catastrophes, it is important to have a method to identify and curtail contaminations immediately to minimize impact on the public.
A paper published earlier this month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics considers the identification of contaminants in a water distribution network as an optimal control problem within a networked system. Read the rest of this entry »

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Tell us why math matters and win a cash prize!

Every time you log into Facebook, you probably notice advertisements along the sidebar that seem surprising relevant to your interests. Much like the algorithms Facebook implements for advertisers to target and reach the broadest range of users, math makes it possible to determine a team’s ranking in college football, predict traffic patterns, and reduce the large, cumbersome size of an image to a workable and smaller JPEG file.

As a SIAM student member, this surely comes as no surprise to you, but what about the rest of the world? SIAM’s Math Matters, Apply It! series gives students like yourself the chance to educate others and spread awareness of the application of mathematics to our daily lives.

SIAM invites you to submit new ideas for the Math Matters series, which demonstrates the role of mathematics in everyday events and occurrences — your idea will benefit the community and you could win a cash prize of up to $250!

All SIAM student members are eligible, so check out examples of current Math Matters flyers and send us one or more submissions of your own to by December 14.

Please view the complete instructions prior to sending your submission.

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SIAM awards undergraduates for exemplary mathematical modeling

The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) gives the SIAM Award in the Mathematical Contest in Modeling (MCM) to two undergraduate teams judged “outstanding” among hundreds of participants worldwide in the annual MCM administered by the Consortium for Mathematics and Its Applications (COMAP).

The contest inspires students to develop solutions involving mathematical modeling to open-ended problems in two categories: continuous and discrete. SIAM judges pick a winner in each of the two categories among teams determined “outstanding” by COMAP judging.

Both 2011 and 2012 recipients were awarded prizes at the Prizes and Awards Luncheon held on Tuesday, July 10, at the SIAM Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Enhao Gong, Rongsha Li, and Xiaoyun Wang of Beijing’s Tsinghua University, mentored by their faculty advisor, Jimin Zhang, were winners of the 2011 Continuous Problem “Snowboard Course.” Li was present to accept the award from SIAM President Nick Trefethen.

The award for the 2011 Discrete Problem, “Repeater Coordination,” went to California’s               Harvey Mudd College students Daniel Furlong, Dylan Marriner, and Louis Ryan. Their faculty advisor was Susan Martonosi. Ryan accepted the award on behalf of his team.

The award for the 2012 Continuous Problem, entitled “The Leaves of a Tree,” went to the team from Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China. Team members Cheng Fu, Hangqi Zhao, Danting Zhu received their awards at the luncheon. Their advisor for the contest was Zhiyi Tan.

The Discrete Problem for 2012 was titled “Camping Along the Big Long River.” University of Louisville students James Jones, Suraj Kannan, and Joshua Mitchell nabbed the SIAM award in this category. They were coached by Changbing Hu. Kannan and Mitchell received the award for the team.

Winners presented their papers in a session of Student Days on Wednesday, July 11.

Student recipients each received a cash award of $300, a SIAM Student Travel Award, complimentary SIAM membership for three years, and a framed, hand-calligraphed certificate for their schools.

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The math of malaria

Philadelphia, PA – June 20, 2012—Malaria affects over 200 million individuals every year and kills hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. The disease varies greatly from region to region in the species that cause it and in the carriers that spread it. It is easily transmitted across regions through travel and migration. This results in outbreaks of the disease even in regions that are essentially malaria-free, such as the United States. Malaria has been nearly eliminated in the U.S. since the 1950s, but the country continues to see roughly 1,500 cases a year, most of them from travelers. Hence, the movement or dispersal of populations becomes important in the study of the disease.

In a paper published this month in the SIAM Journal on Applied Mathematics, authors Daozhou Gao and Shigui Ruan propose a mathematical model to study malaria transmission. Read the rest of this entry »

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