The 2023 RSI/SPUR Lecture Series

The mathematics community enjoys another year of the SPUR/RSI Lecture Series, which is organized by faculty advisor David Jerison.

This year’s lecture series featured the following: 

July 6  Lisa Sauermann: The Erdös-Ginzburg-Ziv Problem

The Erdös-Ginzburg-Ziv Problem is a classical extremal problem in discrete geometry.

July 12 Tanya Khovanova: Math in Puzzle Hunts

Tanya discussed the MIT Mystery Hunt, an annual student event that takes place on the MIT campus every year since 1981. The hunt was created by then-PhD student Brad Schaefer. Currently, the team that wins the hunt is awarded the right to create the hunt in the subsequent year. Khovanova presented three captivating mathematically rich puzzles for the audience to figure out. 

July 19  Bill Minicozzi: Minimal Surfaces

Minimal surfaces are mathematical models for soap films: Surface tension pulls the soap film tight, minimizing its area. He gave an overview of the subject, assuming very little background knowledge, and discuss some connections with other fields and some interesting open questions.

July 26  John Urschel: From Moments to Matrices

Moments of a function give concrete information about the shape of the associated graph and have been thoroughly studied in a wide variety of fields. The talk discussed a number of classic moment problems and their connection to practical problems in numerical linear algebra.

Following each talk, attendees attended a reception with food and beverages.

This series specifically targets the high school students participating in the Research Science Institute (RSI) and the undergraduate students in SPUR, the Math Dept.’s Summer Program in Undergraduate Research. SPUR was founded in 1997 by Professor Hartley Rogers

The RSI/SPUR Lecture Series serves as a platform for distinguished mathematicians to share their expertise, cutting-edge research, and passion for the subject with the next generation of mathematical prodigies. The lectures cover a broad range of mathematical topics, from classical problems in discrete geometry to contemporary applications of mathematics in various fields.

Graduate students are encouraged to join this program as a mentor.

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