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Feasting on Mathematics at the Joint Meetings

Mathematicians of many shapes, sizes, ages, career paths, and interests gathered in San Antonio, Texas, January 10–13, for the annual Joint Mathematics Meetings. Of the 6,000-plus attending, about 1,700 were affiliated with the MAA.

Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished Teaching of Mathematics

Haimo teaching award winners—(from left) Brian Hopkins, Shahriar Shahriari, and Judith Covington—with MAA President Bob Devaney

Participants partook from a banquet of choices. The program was loaded with invited speakers, workshops, contributed paper sessions, invited paper sessions, special sessions, poster sessions, a bustling exhibit hall, panels, minicourses, an employment center, receptions, and more.

Lighter fare during JMM included a knitting circle, backgammon lessons, and a poetry reading.

Humor was a recurring element in the annual meeting. Three sessions of contributed papers were devoted to using humor in teaching. And a packed crowd found plenty of amusement during the Mathematically Bent Theater performance featuring Colin Adams and the Mobiusband Players. In four one-act plays, they poked fun at academic life and mathematics.

JMM 2015

Best textile, sculpture, or other medium: Map Coloring Jewelry Set, by Susan Goldstine

Jordan Ellenberg, in one of the invited addresses, gave a laughter-punctuated talk on Saturday. In “Combinatorial Designs, Finite Geometries, and Beating the Lottery,” one of the take-away points was how the “expected value” that people refer to in statistics is usually not the value they expect.

Ellenberg won an MAA writing award last year for a piece on twin primes in Math Horizons. The subject of the article, Yitang “Tom” Zhang, was featured at JMM in a well-attended documentary about his low-key life and the significance of his work.

Cathy O’Neil presented another of the invited addresses. She was friends with Ellenberg long before he wrote the 2014 best-seller How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking. She filled in mathematicians on how journalists see them and the field—and issued a call to action for math/data training for journalists and for a new way of using data in journalism.

MAA Student Poster Session

A student poster session was one of several activities for young mathematicians.

More than a dozen people complimented Amy Shell-Gellasch on a talk sponsored by the history SIGMAA she’s involved with. Carl Pomerance talked about his relationship with Paul Erdős and their more than 900 pages of correspondence. This correspondence is now in digital format at the Archives of American Mathematics.

Attendees this year could see on a new app the whole JMM program. Several enthusiastic comments were overheard regarding the capability.

Despite surprisingly chilly weather and blustery winds, people ventured out into San Antonio to find food, art, and the scenic River Walk, Participants of JMM 2015 left the town well fed in many ways.

—Lois Baron


JMM Homepage

Awards Booklet

News Date: 
Wednesday, February 18, 2015