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Mathematics at the 2003 AAAS Meeting

Approximately 6000 people attended the 169th national meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. There were over 150 symposia, lectures, seminars and poster presentations at the meeting which was held in Denver, Colorado from February 13th through 18th. Many mathematics talks were presented in symposia at the meeting. The speakers at these talks did a good job of presenting mathematical results to a largely non-mathematical audience: mostly scientists and science reporters. A list of some of the symposia, sponsored by the AMS, with mathematical themes is below.

  • Game-Theoretic Aspects of Internet Computing, organized by Joan Feigenbaum (Yale)
    The Internet has many characteristics related to computer science, but it behaves like an economy, too. Thus, techniques and results from computer science and economics, especially game theory, can be used to analyze distributed computing on the Internet. Speakers illustrated approaches taken by the two disciplines and presented some of the field's open problems.
  • Opening the Mind with Mathematics, organized by Carson C. Chow (University of Pittsburgh)
    Speakers at this symposium presented contributions that mathematics has made to understanding how the brain may function. Models of axons, neurons, and the passing back and forth of excitation and inhibition signals between various parts of the brain were shown. One use of the latter model is the analysis of the mechanisms involved in Parkinson's Disease.
  • Math Inside! - An Industrial View, organized by Fadil Santos (University of Minnesota) and Brenda Dietrich (IBM Research)
    People employed at different companies showed how they use mathematicsin their jobs. The applications ranged from designing a hypersonicaircraft at Boeing to managing the service system at IBM.
  • Mathematical Models for Traffic Flow, organized by Paul Nelson (Texas A&M)
  • Talks dealt primarily with automobile traffic: eliminating bottlenecks, predicting traffic patterns, and designing systemsthat could inform drivers of trouble spots and perhaps providealternate routes. Dirk Helbing (Dresden University of Technology)spoke on both automobile and pedestrian traffic. He presentedevidence showing that placing an obstruction a few feet beforean exit could actually help people escape during a panic.
  • Modelling the Internet and the World Wide Web, organized by Jennifer Tour Chayes and Christian Borgs (both of Microsoft Research)
    The Internet can be represented by a graph with connections between and within the autonomous systems (like AOL). In the World Wide Web, the vertices are web pages and the (directed) edges are hyperlinks. Speakers discussed the properties of these graphs, including their "small world" characteristics. Modelling is difficult because of the dynamic nature of the Internet and the World Wide Web.

You can also read about the AAAS meetings in 2004 and 2002.