Student-Faculty luncheon

Math majors, graduate students and faculty can enjoy a break
from studies at the annual student-faculty party from 11:00 to
12:30 on May 1 (first Exam Week reading period). Come and
share food and conversation in an informal setting.

Graduating students, contest participants and research students
will be recognized for their hard work and accomplishments.
Many will be rewarded with 2018 Duke Math shirts, certificates
and a few with generous cash prizes.


Discussion of Fall 2017 Math Courses

The Director of Undergraduate Studies and instructors of several Fall math courses will be on hand to talk about Fall courses, including some new ones. There will be plenty of time for questions, both in a group setting and individually. Prospective majors, 2nd majors, and minors are especially encouraged to attend since they do not normally have a math faculty advisor. Also other opportunities in math such as competitions, internships, and research options, both individual and in teams, will be discussed. Pizza will be provided.

4:30-6:00 Thursday March 30, 130 Physics Building

Lecture – James Zou

Stanford University
4:45  Thursday April 6, 2017
119 Math Physics

TITLE: The geometry of gender stereotype in word embeddings

Abstract: Machine learning has many powerful applications, but the blind deployment of machine learning runs the risk of amplifying biases present in data. In this talk, I’ll illustrate this challenge with word embeddings, a popular framework to represent English words as vectors which has been used in many AI systems. I’ll show how gender stereotypes are intrinsically captured by the geometry of the word vectors with disturbing implications. We developed an algorithm to modify the embedding geometry to reduce gender stereotypes while preserving the useful features of the data. The resulting debiased embeddings can be used in applications without amplifying gender bias.

Lecture – Elliott Wolf and Alex Woolf

Lineage Logistics:

Thursday March 23, 2017

119 Math Physics

The addition of renewable energy sources, whose power production
cannot be scheduled, has created increasing gaps between instantaneous
electricity supply and electricity demand. Sometimes the grid is
oversupplied with energy, requiring zero-marginal-cost sources of
power to be shut or energy to be bled off of the grid. Other times
there is insufficient electricity, requiring high-marginal-cost
sources of electricity to be switched on or consumers to curtail their
demand. The current state of the grid has led various utilities and
power consumers deploy capital-intensive energy storage, such as
lithium-ion batteries, to better-match grid supply with grid demand.

We present a method to add large-scale energy storage to the power
grid using only sensors, software modifications to the control systems
of large industrial refrigeration systems, and mathematical
optimization. Our talk will address the required instrumentation, the
physics necessary to understand applicable thermal constraints, and
the numerical methods used to determine a mathematically optimal
charge-discharge schedule. We further discuss the economics of the US
power grid, ?war stories? of doing complex mathematics in a large
industrial setting and the effects of various Federal Energy
Regulatory Commission and California Public Utility Commission
regulations on our efforts.
About  Lineage Logistics is the second largest cold
storage network in the world, playing a critical role in multiple
global supply chains. We store and transport temperature-sensitive
commodities (about 30 billion lbs per year) in a large network of
warehouses, trucks and rail cars. Our inventories include everything
from Boeing?s carbon fiber to 4th of July baby-back ribs. Lineage
has all of the combinatorics problems facing Amazon, with embedded
thermo-fluid physics.


Lecture – Henry Segerman

Oklahoma State University
Tuesday, April 18 – 4:30 pm
Room; Physics 130
Title: 3D Shadows: Casting light on the fourth dimension
Abstract: Our brains have evolved in a three-dimensional environment, and so
we are very good at visualising two- and three-dimensional objects. But what
about four-dimensional objects? The best we can really do is to look at
three-dimensional “shadows”. Just as a shadow of a three-dimensional object
squishes it into the two-dimensional plane, we can squish a four-dimensional
shape into three-dimensional space, where we can then make a sculpture of
it. If the four-dimensional object isn’t too complicated and we choose a
good way to squish it, then we can get a very good sense of what it is like.
We will explore the sphere in four-dimensional space, the four-dimensional
polytopes (which are the four-dimensional versions of the three-dimensional
polyhedra), and various 3D printed sculptures, puzzles, and virtual reality
experiences that have come from thinking about these things. I talk about
these topics and much more in my new book, Visualizing Mathematics with 3D
Printing.Note that he will be giving another talk at Geometry/Topology seminar on
April 17 at 3:15pm. Moreover, his book will be available at Duke Gothic
bookstore during his visit to Duke.Please spread the word. For more info on PLUM, visit

Lecture – Francis Su

Speaker: Francis Su, Department of Mathematics, Harvey Mudd College

February 13, 2017 (Monday), Physics 128, 4:30-5:30pm (Tea at 3pm Physics 101)

Title: Voting in Agreeable Societies

Abstract: When does a candidate have the approval of a majority? How does the geometry of the political spectrum influence the outcome? What does mathematics have to say about how people behave? When mathematical objects have a social interpretation, the associated results have social applications. We will show how some classical mathematics can be used to understand voting in “agreeable” societies. This talk also features research with undergraduates.


Data Plus Info Fair

There will be a project fair for Data+ 2017 on Tuesday, January 17th,
4:30-6 pm, in the Ahmadieh Atrium (3rd floor of Gross Hall).

For more information, contact Paul Bendich ( or Ashlee Valente (

Lecture – Ken Ono

Gems of Ramanujan and their lasting impacts on Mathematics

4:30 Thursday, January 26th    107 Gross Hall

Abstract: Ramanujan’s work has had a truly transformative effect on modern mathematics, and continues to do so as we understand further lines from his letters and notebooks. In this lecture, some of the studies of Ramanujan that are most accessible to the general public will be presented and how Ramanujan’s findings fundamentally changed modern mathematics, and also influenced the lecturer’s work, will be discussed. The speaker is an Associate Producer of the film The Man Who Knew Infinity (starring Dev Patel and Jeremy Irons) about Ramanujan. He will share several clips from the film in the lecture.

Biography: Ken Ono is the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Mathematics at Emory University. He is considered to be an expert in the theory of integer partitions and modular forms. He has been invited to speak to audiences all over North America, Asia and Europe. His contributions include several monographs and over 150 research and popular articles in number theory, combinatorics and algebra. He received his Ph.D. from UCLA and has received many awards for his research in number theory, including a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship and a Sloan Fellowship. He was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineering (PECASE) by Bill Clinton in 2000 and he was named the National Science Foundation’s Distinguished Teaching Scholar in 2005. In addition to being a thesis advisor and postdoctoral mentor, he has also mentored dozens of undergraduates and high school students. He serves as Editor-in-Chief for several journals and is an editor of The Ramanujan Journal. He is also a member of the US National Committee for Mathematics at the National Academy of Science

Field Trip to NCMA

You are welcome to join a trip to the North Carolina Museum of Art on January 21, 2017 to view the Ghissi rejuvenation.  This visit is sponsored by the Duke Department of Mathematics and the Romance Studies Department.


– 10:15 to 10:50 am: Charlotte Caspers leads a tour of the exhibit .
– 11:00 to 11:45 am: David Steel presentation on the background on the Ghissi panel and how the idea of the Reunited show emerged.  General discussion of  Italian medieval and early Renaissance painting.
– 11:50 am to 12:15 pm: Ingrid Daubechies presentation on the virtual aging and rejuvenation of the Ghissi panels
– lunch
– 1:30 to 2:30 pm: Humber lecture Better than any Mystery Novel by Charlotte Caspers
– 2:30 –  reception.

For more information please contact Kathy Peterson <>

Math Contest in Modeling

The Mathematics/Interdisciplinary Contest in Modeling (MCM/ ICM) will be held from 19 to 23 January 2017. Over 12000 teams of three from around the world competing in 2015.

New meeting 5:40 Friday Janurary 13 in 119 Math Physics.

Please contact Trung Can < and David Kraines <> if you want to form a team or if you would like more information.

This competition is an opportunity for you to tackle a real world problem using Mathematical ideas. See COMAP MCM/ICM and Duke’s record.

The problems of this contest are always open-ended and resemble applied research problems. Hence, they could be really messy and challenging, but also inspiring when you are able to come up with great ideas to solve them. From my own experience, most students have great fun with the contest and learn a lot of Mathematics while struggling with this difficult task.

This year, in order to provide more information and practice materials for the contest, we will have some workshop meetings, starting with the Info session this Friday, December 2, at 5:30 pm in Physics 119.

Other meetings will take place at the start of the Spring term.


Trung Can’18

Duke University Math Union

DUMU: The organization for undergraduates who love math.

DUMU pictures  of members from the past decade

News and Information

The Math Contest in Modeling  will be held from Thursday-Monday January 19-23, 2017.

For more information on the competition and on forming a team, contact Trung Can <> and David Kraines <>.


The math department and DUMU sponsor a number of popular  Public Lectures aimed at a general audience. Undergraduates with an interest in Mathematics are encouraged to attend.

Lectures by Duke alumni from the mathematics department will be scheduled for spring 2017.

Duke Math Meet

Thanks to coordinators Justin Luo and David Geng for organizing the very successful 2016 Duke Math Meet on November 12.  Tony Qiao and Trung Can coordinated efforts by Problem Solving Seminar students and others to create original problems for the nearly 300 high school students from about 25 high school students throughout the Carolinas and Virginia. Student volunteers helped register teams, lead them to various test sites, serve breakfast and lunch, proctor exams, and other tasks.


Several dozen Duke undergraduates participated in the 2016 Virginia Tech and Putnam math competitions.  Results of the Putnam competition will be announced in late March.

 Saturday October  22, 2016    9-11:30       Virginia Tech Regional

Saturday November 12, 2016    9 – 5          Duke Math Meet

Saturday December 3, 2016      10-6           Putnam Math Competition

Thursday-Monday January 19-23, 2017      Math Contest in Modeling


Math 281S   Problem Solving Seminar

This half-credit seminar is intended for students who enjoy solving interesting math problems. We’ll be discussing how to solve math competition questions. We’ll focus on the intuition behind solutions as well as various tools we can use. Students are asked to work on challenging math problems one evening a week and to write up careful solutions with complete and rigorous proofs to several of them. Students are expected to compete in the Virginia Tech and Putnam math competitions as well as help write questions for the Duke Math Meet.

Research Opportunities


Data+ is a nine-week summer research experience open to Duke undergraduates of all majors who are interested in exploring data-driven approaches to interdisciplinary challenges.


DOMath provides support for small groups of undergraduates for an eight week summer research program

PRUV Fellow Program

PRUV provides financial support for math majors’ research with faculty mentor’s  leading to Graduation with Distinction.

Independent Study

There are opportunities to do research with faculty members for course credit during the year. Independent Study projects can also be used to earn Graduation with Distinction.

Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU)

The National Science Foundation sponsors many summer undergraduate research programs at a variety of schools around the country.

DUMU officers

To get on the math union listserv, send a message to


See Duke Math News for past news.

Information about DUMU History including its founding, past presidents and speakers.



4:30 PM Wednesday September 7 Math-Physics 119 (DUMU lecture)  Why the IRS cares about the Riemann Zeta Function and Number Theory (and why you should too!).  This talk should be of interest to all undergraduate math students.

Many systems exhibit a digit bias. For example, the first digit base 10 of the Fibonacci numbers or of 2^n equals 1 about 30% of the time; the IRS uses this digit bias to detect fraudulent corporate tax returns.

This phenomenon, known as Benford’s Law, was first noticed by observing which pages of log tables were most worn from age — it’s a good thing
there were no calculators 100 years ago!

We’ll discuss the general theory and applications, talk about some fun examples (ranging from the 3x+1 problem to the Riemann zeta function as time permits), and discuss some current open problems suitable for undergraduate research projects.

Steven Miller, Williams College