MathFest 2018

After a summer filled with conferences and a crazy move (we moved and had exactly one week to find a home, I don’t recommend this), I am excited to get to work in a new environment!


Juno hates road trips

I spent my summer expanding my knowledge in cryptography, arithmetic geometry, SageMath, and math education. I now have ideas to implement in classrooms and am more familiar with terms and programs my collaborators use.


Enigma machine! We got to play with it.

MathFest was another whirlwind of information and hanging out with friends. I learned more about implementing standards based grading from Kate Owens, David Webb, and David Bressoud. You can check out Kate Owens blog full of standards based grading here: Kate Owens Blog. I think the over view here is to know what the big questions are for your course and share those with the students. Then for each of the big questions, come up with standards you think would answer those big questions. Then give your students many opportunities to demonstrate their grasp or mastery of those standards.

Ed Burger asked us to focus on the 20 year question in our teaching from now on. That is to say, what do you hope your students will remember in 20 years from now and be mindful as you walk into your classroom each day on what you are doing to address that question. He also assigned us the homework of not referring to the problems we work on in math as problems anymore. We’ll see how that goes. His final advice was to not leave a failure in the classroom hanging. Always address it, so the students have a chance to learn from them. In that way we can practice effective failure.

Ed Burger was not the only one to discuss failure at MathFest. Laura Taalman discussed the process of failure in 3d printing and in mathematical research and the importance of sharing this process with students so they can recognize that mistakes are perfectly normal to make.

Here was her flow chart:

math research flow chart

Math flow chart. The woo part is important. Someday we get there.

Here are some of her designs that she has made: Mathgrrl. Turns out you can just send designs to folks and have them print it for you.

Eugenia Cheng gave us yet another mathematics that can be interlaced to social justice. She discussed category theory and inclusion-exclusion in mathematics. I really felt like I could understand category theory after her talk. She also related the generalized form of factoring to a way to think about privilege. She looks at the number 42 and finds a way to represent the factors as a cube, which visually is way more appealing than listing all the factors in a straight line.

factors of 42

Prime factors of 42 done up as a cube. It’s hard to draw cubes for me.

And if we’re thinking about how those arrows are pointing, this diagram seems to suggest that 6>7. Abstracting this cube on the right she looks at privileges for the set of  {rich, white, and male} and discusses what the implications are by drawing it as a cube.

category theory and sj

More of a rectangular prism than a cube to represent how having some privileges may lead a person to be better off than those from the same row.

The first thing she mentions about his diagram is that this demonstrates that privilege isn’t about being more privileged than everyone else in the diagram. This version of the rectangular prism helps us see that a person is more privileged than the person they are directly above. But being a rich, non-white, non-male vs being a non-rich, white male would be incomparable according to the arrows on these sets because they have completely different sets of privilege. I thought this was a good reminder of how complex privilege can be because of the intersectionality of our identities. Then it goes further to give us a mathematical means to think about our intersectional identities and how they can interplay. Here’s a version of her talk that she gave at MathFest: Inclusion-exclusion talk

There was so much more going on at Mathfest, so I’m a little overwhelmed. I will be spending the next few weeks synthesizing what I can into my courses before I forget all this useful information.



Panel on teaching Social Justice in mathematics

Another wonderful Joint Math Meetings has passed and I was quite busy at this one. I was able to see my friends and colleagues because I helped organize the special session on arithmetic dynamics. I also got to spend some time with new friends from Project NExT by running a special session on Social Justice in the mathematics classroom.

Lily Khadjavi, Karl-Dieter Crisman, and Aditya Adiredja made our session a success. I think one of the big things I learned is that I can work in small ways to start incorporating social justice and service learning in my classroom. For example, Calculus students can tutor at the local high schools in algebra, or I can carefully choose which examples my students can look at in class. As Lily Khadjavi said, the data speaks for itself.

I also learned that I’ve done service learning already in my classroom. Partnering my math for elementary school teachers students with a Hawai’i elementary students as penpals was a service learning project. I learned about the value of student reflection as well as making sure my students met with the community partner.

I still want to create something big in partnership with the community I live in, but for now I can help incorporate social justice into my classroom by choosing good examples.

Some resources I heard about in the panel and Moon Duchin’s talk:

  • Forthcoming: Lily Khadjavi and and Gizem Karaali are working on a “volume of classroom modules”— Mathematics and Social Justice: Perspectives and Resources for the College Classroom. I think that is what this one is called, but I didn’t get a chance to write the name, so I had to use googlefu to find it.
  • There should be a social justice issue of PRIMUS soon.
  • Link to slides and other resources from our session: JMM session


Notes from Analysis

I get to teach real analysis this year! So I’ve been making notes for my students. We are working from Rudin, and we began by building the real numbers using Dedekind cuts. Each set of notes has a rough learning objective at the top. You can find them here:

Lecture 1_sv

Lecture 2_sv

Lecture 3_sv

Lecture 4_sv 131

Lecture 5_sv_131

Lecture 6_sv_131

Lecture 7_sv_131

LEcture 8_sv_131

Lecture 9_sv_131

Lecture 10_sv_131

Lecture 11_sv_131

Lecture 12_sv_131 more compact properties

Lecture 13_sv_131 Connected and compact

Lecture 14_sv_Conv seq

Lecture 15_sv_131 cauchy conv seq

Lecture 16_sv_131 Completion

Lecture 17_sv_131 limsupinf

Lecture 18_sv_131_series tests

Lecture 19_sv_131 Absolute convergence

Lecture 20_sv_131 Continuity and limits

Lecture 21_sv_131_Continuity consequences

Lecture 22_sv_131_uniform continuity

Lecture 23_sv_131_differentiability

Lecture 24_sv_131_Taylor and Uniform convergence

Lecture 25_sv_131_Function convergence

This is what a mathematician looks like

I don’t know how many of you have gotten bored like me and done a google image search of things like professor and mathematician, but it’s results weren’t very surprising for me.

In fact the results have actually improved since the last time I did this search! Last time “professor” had only yielded images of Einstein lookalikes.

It was exciting (and inspiring) to be at MAA Mathfest this past week and get to interact with many mathematicians who don’t fit the stereotype. If I were to be asked what a mathematician looks like, I have no idea what I would draw! Maybe myself, maybe any one of the friends I just made, there are so many people that become mathematicians!

bluedots mathfest

Junior faculty learning math and having fun.


Equally inspiring was the session at Mathfest on the journey of how many of the women mathematicians I admire arrived at where they are. One of my many takeaways from that session was that mentorship matters and that I should learn more about finding mentors for myself and being a good mentor for students that might one day follow in my footsteps.

Programs like EDGE and Math Alliance were instrumental in helping these folks get to where they are today as well as groups like SACNAS. I’m glad to have heard more about some of these groups so that I can share these opportunities with my students and others colleagues who could not make it out to Chicago.



Future Conferences

Conferences I’ll be attending in the coming months:

  • MathFest July 31-August 4, 2018, Denver, CO.
  • AMS Western Sectional March 2019, Honolulu, HI.


Some recent past conferences I attended:

  • IAS Women and mathematics program, May 19-25th, 2018, Princeton, NJ.
  • SAGE days 94, June 29-July 4, 2018, Zaragoza, Spain.
  • Latinx in the Mathematical Sciences Conference March 8-10, 2018 (invited speaker).
  • JMM 2018, San Diego, CA.
  • Women in Sage: Sage days 90, October 2017, Claremont, CA (organizer).
  • WIN 4,  August 13-18, 2017,Banff, Alberta.
  • MathFest July 2017, Chicago, IL.
  • AWM Special Session on Women in Sage Math at the 2017 AWM Research Symposium at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) April 8 -9, 2017
  • JMM 2017, Atlanta, GA.
  • West Coast Number Theory Conference, Dec 16th-20th.