Archive for November, 2010

Anticipating our upcoming lecture on Mathematics and Music from Dr. Carol Reynolds, here is a video from a self-described mathemusician, Vi Hart.  The video captures some of the playfulness and innovation that I see in the best math circles.



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Many of our circle members enjoy participating in the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad, NACLO.   Like the USAMO, this set of contests is used to select the team that will represent the US in the International Linguistics Olympiad, ILO.  This is not a test of how many languages you know, but rather your ability to problem solve and therefore many successful math problem solvers have made it onto the ILO team.

Once again Dr. Vincent Ng will be offering the NACLO at UT Dallas.  Please take advantage of this excellent opportunity to broaden your problem solving skills and potentially earn a highly regarded credential.  Here is information from the NACLO website:

This olympiad is a contest in which high-school students solve linguistic puzzles. In solving the problems, students learn about the diversity and consistency of language, while exercising logic skills. No prior knowledge of linguistics or second languages is necessary. Professionals in linguistics, computational linguistics and language technologies use dozens of languages to create engaging problems that represent cutting edge issues in their fields. The competition has attracted top students to study and work in those same fields. It is truly an opportunity for young people to experience a taste of natural-language processing in the 21st century.

Round 1: Wednesday, February 2 (2011)
Round 2: Thursday, March 10 (2011)



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We hope you are all looking forward to our December 4th lecture by Dr. Carol Reynolds on Music and Numbers.  In case there are any doubts about the many rich connections between mathematics and music, Dr. Reynolds sent some excellent resources on Acoustics.

Acoustics and Vibration Animations

Dr. Dan Russell, a professor of applied physics, has used Mathematica software to visualize and explain complex acoustical phenomenon.  Here for example is his explanation for one mode of a drum head vibrating:

The (0,3) mode, shown at right (MPEG movie ) has three circular nodes, but no diameter nodes. The frequency of the (0,3) mode is 3.598 times the frequency of the (0,1) mode. Like the (0,1) and (0,2) modes, the (0,3) mode is excited when the membrane is struck at the center. The sound radiation characteristics of the (0,3) mode rather complicated. This mode is excited when the membrane is struck at the center, and it dies away fairly quickly. As a result, it contributes to the “thump” sound when a drum is hit at the center, but does not contribute much to the musical pitch of a drum when hit off center.

University of New South Wales Physclips

These online multimedia lectures provide a great introduction to the physics of sound.  Topics include oscillations, travelling waves, the Doppler effect, interference and standing waves.  They also have articles specific to many of the instruments our students play:

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On December 4th we will have a very special holiday lecture from Dr. Carol Reynolds.  Her talk will explore the intersections between mathematics and music:

Music and numbers?  How interrelated are they?  Everyone knows about rhythm and counting 1-2-3-4.  And you probably know that math figures into music theory, (primarily the study of harmony and form).  But what about acoustics, the science of sound?  And music notation (the historical systems for writing music down on paper)?  How about the composition itself?  Could numbers be a factor?

Using sound and visual images, Dr. Reynolds will travel through the many ways that numbers, math, and symbols occur in music, both in today’s practice, and in musical systems of the past.

About Dr. Reynolds

For more than 20 years, Dr. Carol Reynolds was Associate Professor of Music History at the Meadows School of the Arts, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

Carol also is a uniquely talented and much sought-after speaker for arts venues and general audiences. Never dull or superficial, Carol brings to her audiences a unique mix of humor, substance, and skilled piano performance to make the arts more accessible and meaningful to all.Carol portrait

Carol has led arts tours to Russia, Austria, Germany, San Francisco, and Broadway on behalf of several arts organizations. Her enthusiasm and boundless energy give tour participants an unforgettable experience.

She makes her home on a farm near Bowie, Texas, where, with her husband and teenage daughter, she raises La Mancha goats and soaks up the rich cultural heritage of rural America. She maintains a second residence in Weimar, Germany — the home of Goethe, Schiller, Bach, and Liszt, and the focal point of much of Europe’s artistic heritage.



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This Saturday, Dr. Razvan Gelca will come to Dallas to share his lecture, “Regular Polygons,”  covering their surprising properties, constructions and applications to Mathematical Olympiad Problems.

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Congratulations to the winners of the 2010 Math Prize for Girls.  This growing contest sponsored by Akamai is encouraging extraordinary talent such as these top 10 winners:

  1. Danielle Wang (8th grade, California Virtual Academy, CA), $25,000 (Score 19)
  2. Elizabeth Synge (12th grade, Boston University Academy, MA), $10,000 (Score 18)
  3. In Young Cho (12th grade, Exeter, NH), $2700 (Score 17)
  4. Jae Shin (12th grade, Andover, MA), $2700 (Score 17)
  5. Alissa Zhang (11th grade, Saratoga HS, CA), $2700 (Score 17)
  6. Corinne Madsen (12th grade, IMSA, IL), $1000 (Score 16)
  7. Jessie Duan (12th grade, NCSSM, NC), $1000 (Score 16)
  8. Harlin Lee (11th grade, Exeter, MA), $300 (Score 15)
  9. Elizabeth Shen (11th grade, South Mecklenburg HS, NC), $300 (Score 15)
  10. Moya Chen (12th grade, Vernon Hills HS, IL), $300 (Score 15)

Regrettably, only one Texan, the very talented Lilly Shen, was represented in the top 35.  Math Circles are an excellent way to attract young girls to problem solving and to help them retain their interest through their school years.

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2010 MEANT Math Olympiad

One November 13th we will not have Math Circle so our students can choose to compete in the Math Olympiad sponsored by the Malayalee Engineers Association of North Texas.  Here is a description from the MEANT web site and a link to their sign up form:

To encourage young America in learning Mathematics and Engineering, MEANT introduced the prestigious MEANT Math Olympiad. The event is conducted in November every year to encourage Mathematics among students from 5th through 10th classes. Any student currently enrolled in 2009-2010 school year will be eligible to enroll in the competition, which is conducted at the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD) campus.

Sponsors for 2010 event include The University of Texas at Dallas and Clear Wireless.

MEANT Math Olympiad Sign Up Form.


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