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# What do Mathematicians Do

Explore graduate programs in the mathematical sciences across the United States & Canada

#### Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, Michael A. Breen, AMS, and William T. Butterworth, DePaul University

**Time:**1:00 p.m.: Room 6C

**Description:** Show your support for top high school students from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. in the first international Who Wants to Be a Mathematician as they compete for a US $5,000 first prize for themselves and US $5,000 for their school's math department. Come match wits with the contestants and support their mathematical achievement.

#### Math makes modern life possible . . .

** . . . including measurements, investments, finances, health, surveys, political decisions, and other information in science and the news.**

Algebra, geometry, and calculus can be pretty interesting and fun. But math is a lot more than the formulas and rules used to count, measure, and calculate. Just like music, mathematics is a creative endeavor that includes beautiful structures and patterns, and surrounds us in countless ways. It strengthens scientific research, fuels our technology, supports modern healthcare, probes philosophical questions, helps us explore the universe, and dazzles us with its elegance. People like you will someday create new math to make our future lives better.

- Cryptographers are mathematicians who make it possible to send secure emails and buy things online. . .
- Data scientists build mathematical models to help scientists and citizens understand climate and help make accurate forecasts of severe weather.
- Epidemiologists are mathematicians who play a crucial role in predicting the spread of epidemics.
- Numerical analysts, statisticians and mathematical modelers helped researchers map the human genome.
- Mathematics makes medical imaging possible.
- Math makes computer-generated animation in films possible.
- Algebraic geometers have made important contributions to topological data analysis, and relatively new tool in statistics.
- Discrete mathematicians have developed important advances in law and politics, providing expert testimony in legal cases about gerrymandering and voting rights.
- Mathematics allows space travel by humans and discoveries by space probes and high-tech telescopes.
- Mathematics of economic development
- Some mathematical ideas are theoretical (often called ?pure mathematics?), developed without a particular application in mind, and sometimes finding a practical application later. For example, your online transactions are possible because of Fermat?s Little Theorem from the 1600s, centuries before computers were invented.

The mathematical sciences include fields like applied math, statistics, data science, econometrics, operations research, and actuarial sciences.

Mathematical scientists contribute to the work of scientists, actuaries, doctors, politicians, and others to solve problems across the physical, biological, social, engineering, and medical sciences. the economy to the spread of disease to the movements of the galaxies.

#### Meet some mathematicians

Mathematicians are people who like the challenge of solving a problem, seeing the beauty in patterns and shapes, and exploring new concepts. Throughout history, the development of mathematics has come from cultures all over the world. For example,

- Pythagorean triples were known by the Babylonians, Egyptians, and Chinese, long before Pythagoras?s time.
- Our common base-10 number system has its origin in place value, negative numbers, and the concept of zero developed in by Chinese, Sumerian, Indian, and Mayan mathematicians.
- The word algebra stems from the Arabic word al-jabr, from the title of a 9th century manuscript by the Persian mathematician Al-Khwarizmi, whose work also underpins the science of flight and the engineering behind the fastest car in the world.
- Some 250 years before Newton and Liebnitz introduced the western world to calculus, the 15th century Indian mathematician Madhava of Kerala derived infinite series for and for some trigonometric functions.

When the 20th-century German mathematician Otto Neugebauer was asked why the Babylonians did so well at mathematics, he replied, ?Presumably through the specific blend of different types of people down there.?

There's a little bit of the mathematician in all of us, and no matter who you are, you have a place in mathematics.

Here are some other places where you can meet mathematical scientists and read about the types of mathematics they do, their educational paths, and their advice to help you along yours:

#### Mathemati-Con Presents: Showtime!: A Conversation with Margot Lee Shetterly, 2019 JPBM Communications Award winner and author of Hidden Figures

**Time**: 11:00 a.m.: Room 309-310

**Description**: Shetterly will receive her award and be interviewed by Talithia Williams, Harvey Mudd College. Following the interview, starting at noon, Shetterly will be available for a meet-and-greet and autograph signing.

Big Data, Inequality, and Democracy

, Cathy O'Neil, CEO of ORCAA, (MAA-AMS-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture)

**Time:**: 3:00 p.m.: Ballrooms I and II

**Description:** We live in the age of the algorithm. Increasingly, the decisions that affect our lives--where we go to school, whether we get a job or a car loan, how much we pay for health insurance, what news we see on social media--are being made not by humans, but by mathematical models. The models being used today are opaque, unregulated, and uncontestable, even when they're wrong. They increase inequality and threaten democracy. What's worse is they're defended as fair and objective in the name of mathematics. What can the mathematical community do about this? How can we surface the moral questions and address the technical ones? Cathy will discuss some ideas along these lines.

#### Math Circles for Students and Teachers, Lance Bryant, Shippensburg University, and Sarah Bryant, Dickinson College

**Time**: 1:00 p.m.: Room 322

**Description**: A math circle is an enrichment experience that brings mathematics professionals in direct contact with pre-college students and/or their teachers. Circles foster passion and excitement for deep mathematics. This demonstration session offers the opportunity for conference attendees to observe and then discuss a math circle experience designed for local students. While students are engaged in a mathematical investigation, mathematicians will have a discussion focused on appreciating and better understanding the organic and creative process of learning that circles offer, and on the logistics and dynamics of running an effective circle. The sponsor for this demonstration is SIGMAA MCST.

#### Who Wants to Be a Mathematician Championship, Michael A. Breen, AMS, and William T. Butterworth, DePaul University

**Time**: 1:00 p.m.: Room 309-310

**Description**: Show your support for top high school students from the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. in this international "Who Wants to Be a Mathematician" as they compete for a \$5,000 first prize for themselves and \$5,000 for their school's math department. Semifinals are at 1:00 pm and finals are at 2:00 pm. Come match wits with the contestants, support their mathematical achievement, and have tremendous fun at the same time.

#### Math Wrangle, Ed Keppelmann, University of Nevada Reno, and Phil Yasskin, Texas A&M University

**Time**: 10:30 a.m.: Room 322

**Description**: Math Wrangle will pit teams of students against each other, the clock, and a slate of great math problems. The format of a Math Wrangle is designed to engage students in mathematical problem solving, promote effective teamwork, provide a venue for oral presentations, and develop critical listening skills. A Math Wrangle incorporates elements of team sports and debate, with a dose of strategy tossed in for good measure. The intention of the Math Wrangle demonstration at the Joint Math Meetings is to show how teachers, schools, circles, and clubs can get students started in this exciting combination of mathematical problem solving with careful argumentation via public speaking, strategy and rebuttal. Sponsors for this event are SIGMAA for Math Circles for Students and Teachers (SIGMAA-MCST).