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Who Wants to Be a Mathematician at the University of Minnesota
On October 23, on the University of Minnesota campus's west bank, over 100 Minnesota high school students and their teachers were dazzled by "Start Seeing Math!," a talk by Doug Arnold, Director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications (IMA), which hosted the event. They were also dazzled by the AMS game Who Wants to Be a Mathematician, as the game finalists, Rohit Agrawal and Justin Wheeler, each won $2000.
Start Seeing Math!, Doug Arnold, Director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications
Arnold began by talking about roots of quadratic polynomials, representing them graphically and algebraically. He then gave a little history of the number i and demonstrated, again graphically and algebraically, operations with complex numbers. Arnold introduced the Mandelbrot set, wowing the audience by zooming in on portions magnified millions of times. Then he took a "commercial break" -
showing a TV commercial (from which the above is taken) that aired during the 2007 Master's tournament on CBS. Arnold helped in the production of the commercial, which shows applications of mathematics and the equations associated with those applications.
After the short "break," Arnold explained how to visualize complex functions and showed some visualizations of translations, dilations, and rotations. He then showed the video "Möbius Transformations Revealed," which he and Jonathan Rogness created, that recently won honorable mention in the 2007 Science and Engineering Visualization Challenge - a competition sponsored by Science and the National Science Foundation. The video has received over 50,000 hits on YouTube.
Who Wants to Be a Mathematician
Following a short break with refreshments provided by the IMA, eight Minnesota high school students played two games of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
Pictured above are: Front row, left to right: kneeling: Paul Kravik (Minnehaha Academy) and Kyle Husebye (Stillwater High School), standing: Rohit Agrawal (Wayzata High School). Back row, left to right: Calli Thompson (Stillwater High School), Perihan MacDonald (St. Paul Central High School), Justin Wheeler (Hill-Murray High School), Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer and game emcee, Needham High School), Alex Fish (Bloomington Jefferson High School), and Nathan Bertram (Becker High School).
In the bonus round, Justin and Rohit wished each other well and then used their three minutes to contemplate the question, which involved combinatorics and some properties of numbers. Rohit shortened the life expectancies of judge Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences) and emcee Mike Breen by waiting until the last few seconds to signal in his answer. Both Justin and Rohit gave good explanations, and as it turned out, they both got the question right, each earning $2000!
Here are the prizes won by all eight contestants:
The AMS thanks Doug Arnold, who made the local arrangements for the game, including last-minute arrangements for refreshments; and sponsors Texas Instruments, Maplesoft, and John Wiley and Sons for their continued generous support of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician.
Photographs by Who Wants to Be a Mathematician judge and co-creator Bill Butterworth (DePaul University Department of Mathematical Sciences) and by Mike Breen (AMS Public Awareness Officer and host of Who Wants to Be a Mathematician).
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