New Orleans provided a festive backdrop for the Joint Mathematics Meetings, which were held January 10-13, 2001 and which drew close to 5,000 participants.
One highlight of the Meetings was the Joint Prize Session, where mathematicians were honored for outstanding achievements. Presented for the first time were the Conant Prize, which went to Carl Pomerance of Bell Labs and the University of Georgia for his article "A Tale of Two Sieves" (Notices, December 1996) and the Whiteman Prize, which recognized the work of mathematical historian Thomas Hawkins of Boston University (click here for information on all the prizes awarded).
An important theme of the Meetings was the growing importance of mathematics in the biosciences, as reflected in the Invited Address by Bonnie Berger of MIT, who spoke on protein motif recognition, the AMS Special Session on human physiology and medicine, and the MAA Short Course on Mathematical Biology. Independent scholar Jeffrey Weeks, presenting his lecture "Measuring the Universe" to a standing-room-only crowd, discussed how geometry, combined with satellite data, is providing new clues about the shape of the universe.
In recent years concern has risen about the preparation of future mathematics teachers, and this subject was explored in two panel discussions.
But such weighty matters were not on the minds of the students from New Orleans area high schools, who turned out to cheer on their fellow students in the AMS-sponsored game "Who Wants to be a Mathematician." Modeled on the wildly popular TV game show "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", the game featured questions about mathematics and an array of prizes. Although no one reached the top prize of $2,000, students went home with T-shirts, books, magazine subscriptions---and plenty of smiles.
This enthusiasm flowed over into the commercial exhibits where at any given time, crowds of participants could be seen seeking the latest in industry-related products and services. Over 40 companies, including the Mathematical Association of America and the American Mathematical Society captured their attention with displays ranging from publications, software, and hardware to games, puzzles, and jewelry. Services offered included book signings, raffles, product demonstrations, and distribution of free gifts and treats.
Mathematically rich programs, courses, and activities in a festive city rich with culture culminated in a successful Joint Mathematics Meetings. Lagniappe.
Last Update: 02/20/2001