Posts Tagged ‘UT Dallas’

Machine learning is a fascinating scientific discipline concerned with the design of algorithms that enable a computer to automatically learn and improve with experience. Learning algorithms operate by recognizing complex patterns in data, which can then be applied to make intelligent decisions. As the amount of electronic data grows, so does the importance of machine learning. In fact, machine learning is one of the fastest-growing subareas of artificial intelligence, and is the core technology underlying many successful software applications, such as speech recognizers, spam filters, and product recommendation systems.

In this talk, Dr. Ng will give you an overview of the basics of machine learning, including its major paradigms, some of its successful stories, and the inner workings of one of the earliest machine learning algorithms that was popularly used in the 1990s.

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The American Mathematics Contest (AMC) is an extremely important contest for any students interested in pursuing a STEM education and career.  Many of the elite universities use AMC scores to sort out the many applicants who easily achieve 800 SAT math scores.

Our Metroplex Math Circle students are particularly fortunate to have access to Dr. Titu Andreescu as they prepare themselves to take the test.  Dr. Andreescu was the director of the AMC and coach of the US International Mathematical Olympiad team, whose members are selected from among the very best performers in the AMC, AIME and USAMO sequence of contests.

Students should make sure that their schools are offering the A version of the AMC 10 and 12 tests on February 7th.  For those students who do not have access to the test at their school or who are homeschooled, Dr. Andreescu will be offering the test at UT Dallas on February 22, 2012.  Please leave a comment below if you would like to register to take the test at UT Dallas so we can order sufficient tests.

The “10” and “12” refer to the maximum grade in which the test may be taken, however, there is no lower limit on the age of the participant.  Many of our younger students take it with the goal of improving their performance each year and identifying areas to focus their studies.  One extraordinary elementary student, under Dr. Andreescu’s tutelage, even achieved a perfect score on the AMC 10!



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Registration is now open for the 2012 North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad (NACLO).  This is a contest that appeals to many students who enjoy mathematical problem solving competitions.  As in past years, Dr. Vincent Ng will offer the contest at UT Dallas and will also provide a prep session before the contest.

Knowledge of specific languages is not being tested, but rather the ability of our students to detect patterns and solve problems.  Computational Linguistics and Natural Language processing are two exciting fields whose benefits we experience every day when we interact with Google search or Apple’s Siri.

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For those of you planning to take the AMC 10 or 12 B at UT Dallas this year, Dr. Andreescu has announced that it will be in the Conference Center in room 1.102.  If you are familiar with the campus you will note that the Conference Center is just across Rutford from the building where Metroplex Math Circle is usually held.  For those of you who need directions, this link will show you the Conference Center and nearby parking:

This room was chosen due to the large number of students who have already signed up.  If you would like to take the test at UTD please contact Dr. Andreescu to insure that you have a test reserved for you.

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As students take the AMC 10 and 12 A today I wanted to post information on Texas universities offering the B version of the test on February 23rd.  Please contact the site coordinators directly.  If you are looking for a site in another state they are listed by the AMC at this site.

Blinn College

902 College Ave.
Brenham, TX 77833

David Fleeger

Main Conference Room of the Student Center

Concordia University

11400 Concordia University Drive
Austin, TX 78726-1887

John Frederic

Offering both the 10/12 A and the 10/12 B testing dates.

University of Texas at Austin

Dept. of Mathematics
Austin, TX 78712-0257

Allison Moore

University of Texas at Brownsville

80 Fort Brown
Brownsville, TX 78520

Jerzy Mogilski

University of Texas at Dallas

Science & Math Dept.
2601 N. Floyd Rd. FN33
Richardson, TX 75083

Titu Andreescu

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Amy Chyao was also recently interviewed by D Magazine.

How a Plano Student Uses Light to Fight Cancer

Amy Chyao is a self-taught chemistry superstar and certifiable genius. But it’s not a big deal.

Q: In May, you won the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair with a project titled “Lights, Quantum Dots, Action!” Can you explain the project in a way that even I will understand?

A: It’s really not that complicated, in essence. It’s for a cancer treatment. Chemotherapy attacks healthy cells. And surgery can cause infections. So the good thing about this treatment, photodynamic therapy, or PDT, is that it doesn’t have either of these problems. The only real reason that we don’t use it today is because it’s activated by light, and it’s hard to penetrate deeper into the skin to reach the deeper tumors. What we were working on was making a drug that will allow us to reach deeper tumors with PDT. It’s an existing treatment. We’re just trying to design a new drug that will help it be even better.


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Our own Amy Chyao is receiving a great honor tonight as she has been invited to sit with the First Lady during the State of the Union speech:

PLANO (January 25, 2011)—Among First Lady Michelle Obama’s guests Tuesday night during the State of the Union address will be Plano East High School junior Amy Chyao, 16, and her father.

Chyao was chosen after meeting President Barack Obama at the White House Science Fair, where she presented a design for a cancer-treating photo-sensitizer.

Mr. Obama later called her an example of America’s potential in one of his speeches.

Chyao said she’s honored by the invitation.

She met then first lady Laura Bush in 2007 after she won the Scripps National Spelling Bee.


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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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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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I thought this recent article was a great demonstration that the creativity, diligence and playfulness that are encouraged in Math Circle can also be a part of a rewarding career.

UT Dallas Team’s Approach to an Old Problem is Praised as ‘Elegant’

Oct. 28, 2010 

Two UT Dallas computer scientists have made progress on a nearly 4-decade-old mathematical puzzle, producing a proof that renowned Stanford computer scientist Don Knuth called “amazing” in his communication back to them.

Created by the mathematician John Conway and known as Topswops, the puzzle starts like this: Begin with a randomly ordered deck of cards numbered 1 to n, with n being however high a number you choose. Now count out the number of cards represented by whatever card is the top card, and turn that block of card

s over on top of the remaining cards. Then count out the number of cards represented by the new top card and turn this whole block over on top of the remaining cards. Repeat until the card numbered 1 comes to the top (realizing that we know the card numbered 1 will always eventually come to the top).

Now here’s what needs to be done: Calculate the maximum and minimum number of steps required with n number of cards.

Knuth had previously proved an exponential upper bound on the number of Topswops steps, and conjectured that one might also prove a matching lower bound. What Dr. Hal Sudborough and Dr. Linda Morales did, however, was to prove a lower bound that is much better than that proposed in Knuth’s conjecture, and Knuth declared their proof technique both “elegant” and “amazing.”

“What I find fascinating about a problem such as bounding the Topswops function is connected to its simplicity, to its fundamental nature, and to the complexity and difficulty of finding an answer,” said Sudborough, the Founders Professor at the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science. “An easily described, easily communicated problem is invaluable for engaging a wide array of participants, from high school students to the most eminent mathematicians.”

He also cited Martin Gardner, a longtime columnist for Scientific American, who wrote of problems such as Topswops, “Let it not be supposed that those Conway card games are trivial. They deal with the theory of set permutations and not only may provide deep theorems but also may have a bearing on practical problems that arise in seemingly unrelated fields.”

And then there’s the sheer mathematical beauty that the problem reveals.

“The Topswops process is a simple one,” said Morales, a senior lecturer in computer science. “The basic algorithm is easily understood by almost anyone, regardless of their training or interests. But the simplicity is deceptive. Hiding behind it is a mathematical world of unexpected richness and beauty. Our research uncovered permutations whose iterate sequences have a fascinating structure, which upon analysis have revealed hitherto unknown lower bounds for the problem. There is much more to learn from the problem. We have tantalizing hints of more revelations just waiting to be uncovered.”


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