Fall 2023 Mathematics Conference
Images from the Fall Mathematics Conference on Sept 29-30
Message from the Chair
Anna Ghazaryan
Dear Alumni and Friends,
I am pleased to address you on behalf of the Department of Mathematics. In this letter I will report on the developments in the Department as well as tell you about our plans for 2024. I hope that you will enjoy this Newsletter where we will share with you some of the achievements of our students and faculty.
The Department continues working on updating our curriculum in order to prepare our students for the evolving environment in academia and industry. We successfully designed the following certificates which will be available for enrollment in Fall 2024:
  • The Financial Mathematics Certificate is designed to train undergraduate students to use mathematics to analyze problems arising from finance. Examples include the use of stochastic processes and partial differential equations to study stock markets and to price financial derivatives.
  • The Mathematical Modeling Certificate is designed to teach a broad range of analytical tools arising in Dynamical Systems, Partial Differential Equations, Linear Algebra, Graph Theory, etc. The models that can be treated with these tools include water flow in a pipe, Keynesian cross model of a national economy, opinion dynamics, protein dynamics, chemical oscillations, predator-prey models, genetic control systems, neural networks and network flows.
  • The Dynamical Systems and Mathematical Modeling Graduate Certificate is designed to teach computational and theoretical techniques used to analyze real world problems in the fields of engineering, economics, sciences, and in industry.
There are several other significant projects that the department is working on, including a new undergraduate degree in Applied Mathematics. I would like to use this opportunity to thank faculty members involved in the design of the new programs for their tremendous work and commitment and, most of all, their strategic vision.
More Math Department Highlights
Other examples of our commitment to student success include organizing a free Math Help Center. Hundreds of undergraduate students used the Math Help Center in 2023. Our students participate in the Putnam examination and Mathematical Modeling Competition. Daniel Pritikin and Paul Larson helped our students to prepare for the Putnam examination, and Doug Ward worked on putting a team together for the Mathematical Contest in Modeling.
Our faculty members continue to organize conferences, produce cutting-edge research results, and publish papers and books. The information about books published by Paul Larson and by Dana Cox and Suzanne Harper can be found in the Newsletter. Our undergraduate students have a rare opportunity to attend the Annual Fall Conference, network with faculty and researchers, and participate in faculty’s research projects. The topic of the 2024 Annual Fall Conference will be Mathematical Foundations of Machine Learning. The conference will be organized by Louis DeBiasio, Caleb Eckhart, and Paul Larson.
We are continuously working on expanding the research opportunities for our students. We created an informational page where students can see previous research projects and current project offerings. Jason Gaddis is the contact person for students who are interested in research.
Earlier this year I attended a sectional SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics) meeting in Lafayette, LA. In her talk on Spiral Waves, Gabriella Jaramillo from the University of Houston presented results that were obtained jointly with Jared Solomon during her Summer 2022 Research Experience for Undergraduates program held at the University of Houston. Jared graduated from Miami with a B. S. in Mathematics and a double minor in Statistics and Ethics, Society, and Culture. He recently joined Mariner Finance as a Risk Management Analyst. I was so excited and proud to see the results of Jared’s research. I wish Jared all the best in his professional endeavors.
The department actively engaged in outreach activities in 2023.
  • This summer, Beata Randrianantoanina and Louis DeBiasio participated in the prestigious Epsilon Camp teaching college level mathematics to promising young mathematicians ages 7–11. I am happy to report that Epsilon Camp organizers will bring the camp to our beautiful campus for at least two more summers.
  • In addition, Louis DeBiasio organized our first Math Circle for students from local middle and high schools. He has worked with a group of students throughout the fall semester on challenging mathematical problems. It was inspiring to see the students developing a deeper interest in mathematics.
At the end of spring 2024, our department will be moving out of Bachelor Hall, the building we have called home for many years. Although Bachelor Hall will undergo renovations, we will not be returning to the same building. Instead, we will eventually settle in Upham Hall. This marks a significant change for our department.
Please consider engaging with our students and the faculty and share with us any information that may be beneficial to our students: internship opportunities, projects that students or faculty may get involved in, job positions, in addition to your valuable career advice.
It would be very beneficial and exciting for the faculty and current students to know your story. Please reach out, send us an email, or just drop us a note through this form, and share your experience with us. We would love to hear from you!
We are extremely grateful for the financial contributions we receive from our alumni and friends. Your support to the department in general or designated support for projects like the Math Help Center or Enrichment of Undergraduate Experience in Math would be greatly appreciated.
Please keep in touch, and best wishes for the future.
Anna Ghazaryan
Chair and Professor
2023 Miami University Annual Mathematics Fall Conference
Fall Conference 2023 Fall Conference 2023
Fall Conference 2023 Fall Conference 2023
The 2023 Miami University Annual Mathematics Fall Conference was held September 29-30, 2023 in conjunction with the 48th Annual Pi Mu Epsilon Student Conference. Its topic was “Differential Equations and Dynamical Systems and Their Applications" and was expertly run by the organizing team of Professors Anna Ghararyan, Vahagn Manukian, Alin Pogan, and Alim Sukhayev. It was a great success.
The joint meeting featured plenary speakers:
  • Prof. Janet Best (Ohio State University)
  • Prof. Todd Kapitula (Calvin University)
  • Prof. Milena Stanislavova (University of Alabama at Birmingham)
  • Pi Mu Epsilon Plenary Speaker Prof. Stephanie Edwards (Hope College; Edwards is the president of Pi Mu Epsilon and a Miami math alumnus!)
Spurred on by the generous support from the National Science Foundation, the conference attracted 142 participants, including 100 undergraduate/masters students and featured four plenary talks and dozens of contributed talks. The Pi Mu Epsilon Student Conference featured over twenty student research talks, including ten from Miami students!
The conference served a a great vehicle in reviving in-person interaction and reconnecting the academic community in the tri-state area (Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky) that was affected by the recent pandemic, and it provided excellent platform to foster faculty and students interaction and research collaborations.
Faculty Recognition and Achievements
Modern Math Tasks to Provoke Transformational Thinking
From climate change to systemic injustices, the need for multidisciplinary problem-solving skills has never been greater. The book entitled "Modern Math Tasks to Provoke Transformational Thinking, Grades 9-12,” edited by Professors Dana Cox and Suzanne Harper, was published by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics in October, 2023.
Drs. Harper and Cox worked with numerous authors to publish a set of innovative tasks for young adults that bridge the gap between traditional siloed education and the real-world problems we encounter daily. By emphasizing mathematical modeling, data analysis, and cross-disciplinary thinking, these tasks empower students to tackle complex issues and become global citizens ready to shape a brighter future.
This book features many K-12 teachers among it’s authors including one of our notable alumni, Leah Simon. Their chapter on developing design literacy to support a culture of mathematical modeling was inspired, in part, by Leah’s extensive knowledge of technology and design and includes tasks she developed and field tested with local students in southwestern Ohio.
Extensions of Axiom of Determinacy
A book written by Professor Paul Larson, a leading set theorist, entitled “Extensions of Axiom of Determinacy," was published this fall by the American Mathematical Society in its prestigious university lecture series. The book provides an expository account of acclaimed work on strong forms of the Axioms of Determinacy, which asserts the existence of winning strategies in infinitely long games.
While the Axiom of Determinacy contradicts the Axiom of Choice, Choice is consistent with the assumption that determinacy holds in certain inner models of the set theoretic universe, corresponding roughly to the class of sets with suitably simple definitions. The study of models of determinacy has been a central topic in set theory for over 50 years. Deep connections between determinacy and other areas of mathematics are currently being explored, and many basic questions remain open, especially regarding possible implications between various forms of determinacy. The book begins by giving a updated presentation of fundamental foundational work in the area, before presenting a series of major results, primarily due to W. Hugh Woodin, whose proofs appear in print for the first time in this book. There is much more to explore, and Dr. Larson plans to start work soon on a sequel.
Student Recognition and Achievements
Ruby Schwan
Ruby Schwan
Mary Le
Mary Le
Annie Givens
Annie Givens
Benjamin Leber
Benjamin Liber
Two of our majors, Mary Le and Ruby Schwan, were among the 15 winners of the prestigious 2023 Miami University Provost’s Student Academic Achievement Award! Mary is double-majoring in quantitative economics, and mathematics and statistics. Ruby majors in Integrated Math Education, Mathematics & Statistics, and Music.
Congratulations to our high-performing majors!
  • Jonathan Waldmann received an 2023 Miami University Undergraduate Research Award, based on a research project Mathematical Analysis of Disease Propagation in an Epidemiological Model, supervised by Anna Ghazaryan and graduate student mentor Priscilla Yinzime. Jonathan is majoring in Mathematics and minoring in Japanese. He is also a student ambassador for the College of Arts and Science.
  • Students Nathaniel Smith gave a talk and Chris Guptil (BS in Mathematics, May 2023) presented a poster at the Joint Mathematical Meeting in Boston in January 2023.
  • Annie Givens, Benjamin Liber, and Shumaila Shaikh gave presentations at the Undergraduate Mathematics Day held at the University of Dayton on November 4, 2023.
  • Annie Givens and Jonathan Waldmann gave talks at the College of Arts and Sciences Discover the Sciences.
  • Annie Givens and Benjamin Liber participated in REU programs in summer 2023. Annie participated in the REU program in Differential Geometry and Knot Theory at California State University San Bernadino, and Benjamin participated in the REU program in Algebra and Discrete Mathematics at Auburn University.
Annie, a combined BS & MS Mathematics student and Miami University varsity athlete, is also featured in the latest edition of Miami RedHawks Front Row Features! In the article she is speaking about skating and her love of math: "I know I love math, so if I do this forever, it's not going to feel like I'm at work. I love teaching. And I love coaching skating. I don't feel like I'm working when I'm coaching…"
  • Ten Miami students gave talks at the 48th Pi Mu Epsilon student conference in September. This might have been a record! The students who spoke were Annie Givens, Benjamin LIber, Luke Lunday, Nathaniel Smith, Olivia Tavano, Samuel Waid, Jonathan Waldmann, Syhming Wang, Tucker Wimbish, and Zainab Yusuf.
MUCTM students
Students at MUCTM
In mid-October, twelve members from the Miami University Council of Teachers of Mathematics (MUCTM) traveled to Sandusky, OH, to attend the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM) conference. The primary goal of the annual OCTM conference is to captivate, inspire, and empower mathematics educators, offering time and space for professional growth.
Over the two-day conference, our students engaged in sessions delving into mathematics concepts, strategies, and techniques shared by some of the field's most adept educators. The array of presentations spanned all grade levels, mathematics content strands, and included discussions about research and policy issues. In addition to attending sessions, the MUCTM students were able to meet teacher leaders and other educators to begin building their own professional network.
The OCTM conference served as an invaluable platform for our students, enabling them to fully immerse themselves in the dynamic and ever-evolving landscape of mathematics education. We are thankful for the MUCTM #MoveInMiami funds designated for professional development to pay for all of the students’ conference expenses!
Bachelor Hall and the Penrose Tiles
Penrose tiles in Bachelor courtyard
Bachelor Hall courtyard with Penrose tiles (photo by Beata Randrianantoanina)
Milton Cox
Milton Cox
David Kullman
David Kullman
By the end of next summer, the Mathematics Department will leave its longtime home of Bachelor Hall after occupying it for over three decades to eventually settle in Upham Hall. Bachelor Hall is set to be renovated with a plan to fill in the courtyard or alter it in some way.
One piece of history that will be lost in this move is the Penrose tiling found in the courtyard of Bachelor Hall. This artwork traces its roots to a talk given by John Conway at the annual Mathematics and Statistics Conference in 1976. Conway, who passed away in 2020, was an esteemed mathematician who made contributions to group theory, knot theory, number theory, and game theory, among other areas. His talk spurred interest in the tiling, and plans were made to have it installed in the courtyard during the construction of Bachelor Hall in 1979.
The story behind the installation of these gorgeous mathematically shaped tiles was remarkable and was accounted for by articles of the main persons behind the idea, Math professor emeritus Milton Cox (the main mastermind) and former Math department chair professor emeritus David Kullman.
Professors Cox and Kullman have kindly provided their account on the mathematics and the history behind the tiling.
Words from Emeriti Faculty
Former math department chair Dave Kullman shared a few words about his life since retirement.
When I began teaching at Miami in 1969, the Mathematics Department lived in Culler Hall, now incorporated into the east wing of the Armstrong Center. When we moved into Bachelor Hall (originally designated as the “Communications Building”) we were the Department of Mathematics and Statistics. Now the name of the department is again Mathematics, and a move to another new home is in the works. I taught under seven department chairs, in addition to serving a term as Chair myself in the 1990s. My research interests evolved, from point-set topology to history of mathematics.
After retiring from Miami in 2008, I served a six-year term as Executive Director of the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics (OCTM). I also chaired the Centennial Committee of the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). On Thursdays I met for lunch with a group of retired mathematics and statistics faculty, known as the ROMEOs (Retired Old Mathematicians Eating Out).
Early this year my wife, Karen, and I decided to move to Bradenton, Florida, to be closer to our children who had moved here in 2021. We miss our many friends in Oxford and Miami University, and I still try to keep abreast of happenings in the Mathematics Department. I am always pleased to read about the successes of our undergraduate and graduate majors and the faculty members.
Robert Enzmann '15
Alumni Spotlight: Robert Enzmann
When I arrived at Miami in 2011, I had no intention of studying Math. I was a music major, focused on piano and music technology, which required at least one semester in calculus to pass as a liberal arts requirement. A gentle nudge from Dr. Keeler convinced me to continue with "just one more" math class, and after a mind-expanding introduction to the history of mathematics I decided to switch to a full major.
At this point I discovered how exceptional the strength of Miami's undergraduate teaching is among American universities: faculty took the time to understand me and encourage the pursuit of mathematics for its own sake, which put my career on track and forced me to solve problems in new ways. For that, I'm eternally grateful.
I bounced between a couple start-ups after finishing my M.A. in 2017, and now work as a senior machine learning engineer at CVS Health / Aetna. Most recently we've been working on applications using retrieval-augmented large language models to help our representatives navigate the hundreds of thousands of unstructured documents about Aetna and its health insurance products. LLMs are enabling us to quickly determine the best product fit for our customers, and as anyone working in healthcare can tell you, even just making sense of a health insurance "product" is no easy feat. These recent advances in AI are making the process a whole heck of a lot easier for everyone.
If I was to give my undergraduate (or even graduate!) self some advice before going into the industry, it would be to not discount the strength, flexibility, and adaptability that you gain from the pursuit of pure math. Sure, I didn't know as much of the trendy tech stuff when I first got into the industry, but those things come and go.
What sticks forever is the confidence to look at any problem and say "it might take a while, but I will solve this." The rigor of mathematics forces you to communicate clearly and accurately, along with the ability to break down complex, abstract situations into components you know how to tackle. This process fits into any industry: marketing, data science, fashion, logistics, art, you name it.
Another piece of advice is that it would be to get a foundation in web technologies. Yes, it's not math math, but once you're in a field that uses math, you're probably going to be presenting it or deploying it through a web browser, and a well-crafted presentation is a direct multiplier to the value of that work. If I had stepped into my first data science role with some basic knowledge of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and a bit of Python under my belt, it would have considerably strengthened my ability to distribute and present the mathematics behind my analyses.
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The Department of Mathematics is committed to providing students with the foundational training necessary for graduate work as well as careers in education, business, industry, and public service.
Our faculty come from all over the world and have a strong commitment to both research and teaching.
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