Congratulations to our graduates and wishing everyone a wonderful summer.

Graduates: please send email or stop by and visit.

There were (at least) two articles in the news recently:

One on mathematical modeling relating to obesity: and another, appearing several places, on a woman using her mind (to which a device has been attached) to move a robotic arm:


Do make postings, when you’re not too busy with Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, etc.







Here is a fine article on the general way to look at privacy, online and otherwise, about the work of Helen Nissenbaum, and tweeted by Cathy Dwyer:


I came across this article from twitter:


It explains how guessing e and then t may not be optimal.

Here is an article in the New York Times on Emmy Noether, deemed  the mighty mathematician you’ve never heard of, but praised by Einstein and others:


I recall studying Noether’s work in abstract algebra class. The New York Times article focuses more on the notion of invariants and the applications to physics.

Scroll down to read a posting on Grace Murray Hopper.

Actually, I suspect the mathematicians and computer scientists tend not be real known.

Enjoy the Spring break and come back ready to meet with your advisors and chat with all the faculty to decide on your plans for next semester.

Juniors: you do need to register for graduation!

Seniors: keep going! Meet with your first and second readers and keep aware of all the deadlines.

All majors: do consider visiting Career Services for advice on summer jobs and internships.

We are entering the midterm season. Best wishes to all. Remember: you can ask for help and/or just visit your teachers to chat.

John McMullen passed on this article to me: a book review on a book on the Traveling Salesman’s Problem. It is a ‘good read’.



In recognition of the 2003 Mathematics Awareness Month theme “Mathematics and Art”, this article brings together three different pieces about inter-sections between mathematics and the artwork of M. C. Escher.

If you have 10 minutes to spare, see Grace Hopper, computer pioneer, in an interview with David Letterman from October 1986.  A good interview with a great lady!


From her wiki page,

“She was curious as a child, a life-long trait. At the age of seven she decided to determine how an alarm clock worked. She dismantled seven alarm clocks before her mother realized what she was doing; she was then limited to one clock.”

Hopper went on to develop the first compiler for a programming language, create the COBOL programming language, and achieve the rank of Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy.

Here’s a couple of links to Grace Hopper on 60 minutes from 1982 (if you enjoyed the Letterman clip, these are even better):

At about 4:00 of the Part 2, there is a some really great stuff like,
“It’s much easier to apologize sometimes than it is to get permission.”
“Big rewards go to the people that take the big risks.”
What a great American!

Sumo Paint is a really useful online image editor that’s fairly similar to other professional imaging software.  From their Terms of Use under Copyright,

“User owns and retains sole and exclusive right, title and interest in and to all of your user content. The portal may enable users to develop derivative works based on other users’ content. In that case, however, the copyright is owned by the user who created the original work and not by the user who developed the derivative work.”

So, you can share your artwork with other users, and you still own it.  That’s pretty neat, but I think the real value here is access to imaging through a web browser in a pinch.  And it’s free.

The recent ethical controversy of internet privacy and compliancy laws has gained exceeding popularity. The advancements of technology as well as emerging fields of statistics such as data mining have contributed to the growth of this controversy.

I recently read the New York Times article How Companies Know Your Secrets.  The article discuses a Target statistician’s development of a pregnancy prediction model used to identify pregnant mothers.  The knowledge that mothers are more desperate for a “one stop shop” after children sculpted the model objective.  The objective is to entice women prior to motherhood through coupons and advertisements to develop a sub-conscious shopping “habit”. The ability to collect data from tracing internet visitation and credit/ bonus card purchases has led to a calculus of subconscious urges. (This has also led scientists to affirm that technology is addictive and habit forming because of the sub-conscious pleasure received from an immediate response of an email or a search engine answer.) Target officials defended their new pregnancy prediction mechanism by stating: “Our mission is to make Target the preferred shopping destination for our guests by delivering outstanding value, continuous innovation and exceptional guest experience.  . .we have developed a number of research tools that allow us to gain insights into trends and preferences within different demographic segments of our guest population. Almost all of your statements contain inaccurate information and publishing them would be misleading to the public. We do not intend to address each statement point by point.” The company declined to state what the inaccurate information was.

Privacy issues were of concern relatively recently in the Facebook ad tracking controversy. In addition, the recent revision of Google’s security and privacy terms has also jeopardized a user’s comfort and security. The new Google revision permits certain tracking of user searches to optimize their search algorithm. Google just received media for bypassing Apple privacy settings to collect Iphone information (

Some consumers feel as if the breach of privacy for data collection is beneficial by providing useful coupons and advertisements for applicable products; however, a woman not ready to disclose a pregnancy who receives personal coupons for baby products may feel the individualized attention is uncomfortably invasive. Many people are not aware of the danger associated with privacy and compliancy laws. What are the repercussions of a miscalculated assumption derived by a purchasing history being sold to another institution such as the government, or a potential employer? Is a commenter being irrational by posing the question, “When I apply for a job will they turn me down because there is a 97% chance that I’ve had cancer in the last three years” based upon pharmacy purchases. As technology readily progresses privacy laws are lagging behind. Congressmen Edward Markey recently drafted a mobile device privacy act but unfortunately it cannot be viewed without advising Google, Facebook and Twitter, and most likely revealing your identity ( I believe this is just a beginning to the establishment of many internet privacy and data protection laws.

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