Archive for the ‘News’ Category

The Preston Trail Chapter MATHCOUNTS competition was held at UT Dallas today.  We would like to congratulate all of the participants but especially the three winners of the Countdown round who are all regular Metroplex Math Circle attendees:

  1. Jeffrey Huang
  2. Vinjai Vale
  3. Michael Ma

Best of luck at the state competition in Austin!


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Many of us have been following the extraordinary events of last week as the IBM computer, Watson, defeated the two greatest human Jeopardy champions in three matches.  This milestone in artificial intelligence will go down in history along with Deep Blue’s defeat of Garry Kasparov in chess over a decade ago.

It took a decade to make the leap from dominating chess to a game like Jeopardy because of the challenges in understanding the ambiguity of human language.  The field focused on overcoming these challenges is called Natural Language Processing and it is an area of focus for UT Dallas and of several area companies.

Natural Language Processing in turn is closely related to Computational Linguistics.  Dr. Vincent Ng has presented to the Metroplex Math Circle before on Statistical Natural Language Processing and Computational Linguistics.  UT Dallas and Dr. Ng also host the North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO) which is used to select the team that represents the US at the International Linguistics Olympiad.

The winners of these contests are often those who do well in math problem solving contests and attend programs like the Metroplex Math Circle.  So if you would like to be a part of the next exciting milestone in artificial intelligence, come to Metroplex Math Circle and learn the skills that will help you “serve our computer overlords.”  🙂


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A professor in the University of Texas system has received a significant and lucrative honor:

American wins $1 million math prize

Texas professor receives Norway’s Abel Prize for work in number theory

OSLO, Norway – An American professor at the University of Texas at Austin has won the 6 million kroner ($1 million) Abel Prize for mathematics. 

The prize jury praised John Tate as “a prime architect” of number theory, a branch of mathematics that has played a key role in the development of modern computers. 

The award citation issued Wednesday says Tate “has truly left a conspicuous imprint on modern mathematics” by advancing “one of (its) most elaborate and sophisticated branches.” 

Tate’s scientific accomplishments span six decades. A wealth of essential mathematical ideas and constructions were initiated by Tate and later named after him, such as the Tate module, Tate curve, Tate cycle, Hodge-Tate decompositions, Tate cohomology, Serre-Tate parameter, Lubin-Tate group, Tate trace, Shafarevich-Tate group and Néron-Tate height. 

In 2002-2003, Tate was a recipient of the Wolf Prize in Mathematics. The mathematician turned 85 this month and recently retired from his position as professor, becoming professor emeritus. 

The annual Abel Prize was created by the Norwegian government in 2003 and is awarded to candidates who have contributed to the mathematical sciences. The winner is selected by an international committee of five mathematicians. 

The prize will be given to Tate at a May 25 ceremony in Oslo. 

This report includes information from The Associated Press and msnbc.com. 
© 2010 msnbc.com

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Netflix just announced the winners of their $1 million prize to make at least a 10% improvement in the performance of their prediction engine.

NEW YORK, Sept. 21 /PRNewswire/ — After almost three years and submissions by more than 40,000 teams from 186 countries, Netflix, Inc., the world’s largest online movie rental service (NASDAQ: NFLX), today awarded the $1 million Netflix Prize to a team of engineers, statisticians and researchers who achieved the competition’s goal of a 10 percent improvement over the accuracy of the Netflix movie recommendation system when the competition was launched in Oct. 2006. Netflix members already are benefiting from improvements Netflix Prize contestants have contributed to the recommendations system.

Moments after bestowing the $1 million prize, Netflix announced a second $1 million challenge, asking the world’s computer science and machine learning communities to keep the improvements coming…

The winning team is comprised of software and electrical engineers, statisticians and machine learning researchers from Austria, Canada, Israel and the United States. All seven team members – Bob Bell, Martin Chabbert, Michael Jahrer, Yehuda Koren, Martin Piotte, Andreas Toscher and Chris Volinsky – attended the awards ceremony. It was the first time all seven had met one another in person. How the $1 million is split is to be determined by the team.

Its not surprising that the winners have careers that depend heavily on mastery of discrete math topics and have cultivated the same competitive spirit found in math circles.

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stanford-paul-2009-08One of our favorite guest lecturers, Dr. Paul Stanford, was recently recognized for his work teaching college algebra, applied calculus, matrices and vectors, calculus and linear algebra.

The Regents’ Outstanding Teaching Award, which Stanford received in the category of contingent faculty, carries a $15,000 stipend.   Nominees are selected through a rigorous campus-based process beginning with deans and department chairs, relying heavily on student and peer faculty evaluations within academic departments, and then progresses through various stages of evaluation up through the university, resulting in a recommendation from the campus president. The selection committee evaluates annual reviews, evidence of continuous improvement, commitment to high quality undergraduate education, and other factors.

We look forward to having Dr. Stanford share his great talents with the Metroplex Math Circle again in the 2009-2010 season.

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top earningsCNN published a story about the Most Lucrative College Degrees base on a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.  Of the top 15 careers, they all depend upon a strong background in mathematics and problem solving.  Here are some key quotes from the article:

“Math is at the crux of who gets paid,” said Ed Koc, director of research at NACE. “If you have those skills, you are an extremely valuable asset. We don’t generate enough people like that in this country.”

“It’s a tech-driven world, and demand [for engineers] is only going to grow,” said Farnoosh Torabi, employment expert and Quicken blog editor. “You can’t say that about many fields, especially in a recession.”

There are far fewer people graduating with math-based majors, compared to their liberal-arts counterparts, which is why they are paid at such a premium. The fields of engineering and computer science each make up about 4% of all college graduates, while social science and history each comprise 16%, Koc noted.

As a result, salaries for graduates who studied fields like social work command tiny paychecks, somewhere in the vicinity of $29,000. English, foreign language and communications majors make about $35,000, Koc said.

“It’s a supply and demand issue,” he added. “So few grads offer math skills, and those who can are rewarded.”

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AMC recently announced the students invited to sit for the USA Mathematical Olympiad.  This is a tremendous accomplishment following exemplary performance on the AMC 10 or 12 and a high score on the AIME.  The qualifiers from Texas are:


Every student representing Texas at the USAMO deserves to be very proud.  However, Metroplex Math Circle is particularly proud that one of our most regular attendees is by far the youngest student on the national list.

Michael Ma, as a fourth grader received a perfect score on the AMC 10 and followed it up with a performance on the AIME that is beyond all but the best high school students.  MMC cannot claim the credit for this terrific success (that belongs to Michael and his family) but Michael does exemplify the hard work and talent that Dr. Andreescu seeks to identify and encourage.

Please join us in congratulating Michael on his continued success.

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There are few things more gratifying than seeing a new Math Circle take root.  This time it is particularly exciting to see a new Math Circle in the metroplex.  The Mid-Cities Math Circle should be a great resource for students from the western end of the metroplex or anyone looking for more challenging and inspiring math during the week.  The following information is from their brochure.

Mid-Cities Math Circle (MC)² Seminar

Goals: The main goal of the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar is to provide a stimulating environment for local area middle- and high-school students to learn mathematics. Regular attendance of the (MC)2 seminar will help students not only improve their individual problem-solving skills, but also enjoy and understand mathematics better. More specifically the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar will

  • attract students’ attention to mathematics and motivate them to excel in the subject;
  • prepare students for mathematical contests;
  • introduce them to the beauty of advanced mathematical theories;
  • encourage them to pursue careers related to mathematics such as scientists, educators, engineers, economists, and business leaders.

General Information: The seminar runs every Spring Semester and is designed for students in 8th-12th grades.   students in lower grades are welcome as well but should be advised that a solid mathematical background is required in order to follow the discussions. For more information about the Mid-Cities Math Circle seminar please visit the following web-site:


Applying for the (MC)² Seminar: There is no cost for attending the seminar. If you want to participate in the Mid-Cities Math Circle, please send an e-mail with your name, grade and your school name to Dr. Dimitar Grantcharov at grandim@uta.edu.

(MC)² Director

Dimitar Grantcharov, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Algebra and Geometry

  • Session Leader, San Jose Math Circle, 2004-2008.
  • Guest Lecturer, COSMOS Program at UC Irvine, 1998-2003.
  • Bronze Medal, XXX International Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.
  • First place, VI Balkan Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.
  • First place, Bulgarian National Mathematical Olympiad, 1989.

(MC)² Faculty

Hristo Kojouharov, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Computational Mathematics and Mathematical Biology

Gaik Ambartsoumian, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Analysis and Integral Geometry

Steven Pankavich, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Area of research: Differential Equations and Analysis

Alicia Prieto Langarica
Ph.D. Candidate of Mathematics

  • Guest Lecturer, Metroplex Math Circle at UT Dallas, 2008.
  • First place, Mexican National Mathematical Olympiad, 2002.
  • First place, Mexican National Mathematical Olympiad, 2001.

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ChessFest Making Some New Moves This Year

Expanded Schedule Includes Seminar and Supersize ‘Grande’ Demos

Feb. 5, 2009

This year’s expanded ChessFest schedule includes the debut of a Chess and Education seminar as well as “Chess Grande” demonstrations of games and moves using a supersized board and pieces.

The festival, which will also feature a lecture and presentation of the annual Chess Educator of the Year Award, is Feb. 24 and 25 on the UT Dallas campus.

ChessFest was created seven years ago by the university’s McDermott Library and the UT Dallas Chess Program.

See the UTD website for more information.

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wsj-storyThe Wall Street Journal published the results of a survey in an article called “Doing the Math to Find the Good Jobs.” It will be encouraging to Math Circle participants to know that mathematicians topped the list when considering such factors as work conditions and income.

In fact the first six careers in the list all draw heavily from the types of discrete mathematics taught at Math Circle

  1. Mathematician
  2. Actuary
  3. Statistician
  4. Biologist
  5. Software Engineer
  6. Computer Systems Analyst

This is what the article has to say about at least one person’s experience as a professional mathematician:

According to the study, mathematicians fared best in part because they typically work in favorable conditions — indoors and in places free of toxic fumes or noise — unlike those toward the bottom of the list like sewage-plant operator, painter and bricklayer. They also aren’t expected to do any heavy lifting, crawling or crouching — attributes associated with occupations such as firefighter, auto mechanic and plumber.

The study also considers pay, which was determined by measuring each job’s median income and growth potential. Mathematicians’ annual income was pegged at $94,160, but Ms. Courter, 38, says her salary exceeds that amount.

Her job entails working as part of a virtual team that designs mathematically based computer programs, some of which have been used to make films such as “The Matrix” and “Speed Racer.” She telecommutes from her home and rarely works overtime or feels stressed out. “Problem-solving involves a lot of thinking,” says Ms. Courter. “I find that calming.”

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