Joint Mathematics Meetings

Highlighted Speakers for this Meeting

Bradley Efron to deliver the AMS Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture

picture of EfronBradley Efron, Stanford University, will deliver the Josiah Willard Gibbs Lecture on Wednesday January 4, 2012, 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes. He will speak on A 250-year argument: Belief, behavior, and the bootstrap.

microphone Listen to Bradley Efron talk with AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen about his address.

Bradley Efron is the Max H. Stein Professor of Statistics and Biostatistics at Stanford University’s School of Humanities and Sciences and the Department of Health Research and Policy with the School of Medicine. He completed his undergraduate work in mathematics at the California Institute of Technology, and earned his doctorate in statistics from Stanford in 1964, joining the Stanford faculty that same year. He was Associate Dean for the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1987 to 1990, served a term as Chair of the Faculty Senate as well as three terms as Chair of the Department of Statistics, and continues as Chairman of the Mathematical and Computational Sciences Program. He has served as president of the American Statistical Association and of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics. He is a past editor of the Journal of the American Statistical Association and is presently the founding editor of the Annals of Applied Statistics.

Among the numerous honors that Efron has received are Fellowships of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Statistical Association, the Institute of Mathematical Statistics, the Royal Statistical Society, the International Statistical Institute and the MacArthur Fellows Program of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. He is a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, a recipient of the Ford Prize of the Mathematical Association of America and of both the Wilks Medal and the Noether Prize of the American Statistical Association. Efron was awarded the 1998 Parzen Prize for Statistical Innovation by Texas A&M University, and the first-ever Rao Prize for outstanding research in statistics by Pennsylvania State University in 2003. He received the 2005 National Medal of Science “for his contributions to theoretical and applied statistics, especially the bootstrap sampling technique; for his extraordinary geometric insight into nonlinear statistical problems; and for applications in medicine, physics and astronomy.”

Seth M. Sullivant to speak on "Phylogenetic Algebraic Geometry"

picture of SullivantSeth M. Sullivant, North Carolina State University, will deliver a MAA Invited Address on Wednesday January 4, 2012, 3:20 p.m. – 4:10 p.m., in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes. He will speak on Phylogenetic algebraic geometry.

Seth Sullivant grew up in California, and received his B.A. in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley, his M.A. in 2002 from San Francisco State University, and went back to Berkeley for his Ph.D. in Mathematics, which he received in 2005 under the direction of Bernd Sturmfels.  After graduating from Berkeley, he spent 3 years at Harvard University as a Junior Fellow.  He joined the Mathematics Department at North Carolina State University in 2008.  Seth's research is in algebraic statistics which uses techniques from algebra, geometry, and combinatorics to address theoretical questions in statistics and its applications to biology.  In 2009, he received a David and Lucille Packard Fellowship.

George E. Andrews to deliver the AMS Retiring Presidential Address

picture of george andrewsGeorge E. Andrews, Penn State University, will deliver the AMS Retiring Presidential Address on Thursday January 5, 2012, 3:20 p.m. - 4:10 p.m., in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes.  He will speak on Our Challenges.

microphone Listen to George Andrews talk with AMS Public Awareness Officer Mike Breen about his address.

George E. Andrews is Evan Pugh Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University and an expert on the theory of partitions.  He has a long-term interest in the work of S. Ramanujan, whose last notebook he unearthed in 1976.  He is now collaborating with Bruce Berndt on a series of volumes explicating the brilliant and sometimes enigmatic ideas in this notebook.

Andrews has received many awards for his teaching and service to the profession.  These awards include the Allegheny Region Distinguished Teaching Award from the MAA, and the 1999 Centennial Award from the Department of Mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania “in recognition of contributions to pure mathematics and mathematics education.” In 2007, he was one of three finalists nation-wide for the Robert Foster Cherry Teaching Award for Great Teaching.

Over the years, George Andrews has served on many American Mathematical Society Committees, including the History of Mathematics, Editorial Boards, and Contemporary Mathematics Editorial Committees.  Andrews served as President of the AMS from February 1, 2009 to January 31, 2011.

Andrews was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997, and to the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in 2003. He was awarded an honorary professorship at Nankai University in 2008.  In 2009 he became a SIAM Fellow.  He holds honorary degrees from the Universities of Parma, Florida, and Waterloo.

Rekha R. Thomas to speak on the "Sum of Squares Polynomials in Optimization"

picture of rekha thomasRekha R. Thomas, University of Washington, will deliver a MAA Invited Address on Friday January 6, 2012, 9:00 a.m. - 9:50 a.m., in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes. She will speak on the Sum of squares polynomials in optimization.

Rekha Thomas received a Ph.D. in Operations Research from Cornell University in 1994. After holding postdoctoral positions at the Cowles Foundation for Economics at Yale University and the Konrad-Zuse-Zentrum for Informationstechnik in Berlin, she worked as an assistant professor of Mathematics at Texas A&M University from 1995 - 2000. Since 2000, she has been at the University of Washington in Seattle where she is now the Robert R. and Elaine F. Phelps Endowed Professor of Mathematics. Her research interests are in optimization and computational algebra.

Erik Demaine to speak on "Geometric Puzzles, Algorithms and Complexity"

picture of eric demaineErik Demaine, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will deliver the AMS-MAA-SIAM Gerald and Judith Porter Public Lecture on Saturday January 7, 2012, 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m, in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes. He will speak on Geometric puzzles: Algorithms and complexity.

Erik Demaine is a Professor in computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Demaine's research interests range throughout algorithms, from data structures for improving web searches to the geometry of understanding how proteins fold to the computational difficulty of playing games. 

He received a MacArthur Fellowship (2003) as a "computational geometer tackling and solving difficult problems related to folding and bending--moving readily between the theoretical and the playful, with a keen eye to revealing the former in the latter".  Erik cowrote a book about the theory of folding, together with Joseph O'Rourke, called Geometric Folding Algorithms: Linkages, Origami, Polyhedra (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and a book about the computational complexity of games, together with Robert Hearn, called Games, Puzzles, and Computation (A K Peters, 2009).  His interests span the connections between mathematics and art, including curved origami sculptures in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York.

Abstract: I love geometry because the problems and solutions are fun and often tangible. Puzzles are one way to express these two features, and are also a great source of their own computational geometry problems: which puzzles can be solved and/or designed efficiently using computer algorithms? Proving puzzles to be computationally difficult leads to a mathematical sort of puzzle, designing gadgets to build computers out of puzzles. I will describe a variety of algorithmic and computational complexity results on geometric puzzles, focusing on more playful and recent results.

Edward Frenkel to speak on "Langlands Program, Trace Formulas, and their Geometrization"

picture of FrenkelEdward Frenkel, University of California, Berkeley, will deliver the following lectures in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes:

  • Colloquium Lectures I on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    He will speak on Langlands program, trace formulas, and their geometrization, I
  • Colloquium Lectures II on Thursday, January 5, 2012, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    He will speak on Langlands program, trace formulas, and their geometrization, II
  • Colloquium Lectures III on Friday, January 6, 2012, 1:00 p.m. - 2:00 p.m.
    He will speak on Langlands program, trace formulas, and their geometrization, III

Lecture notes can be found here.

Edward Frenkel was born and grew up in Russia. At the age of 21, based on his first papers, he was invited to Harvard University as a Visiting Professor. A year later he entered the Ph.D program at Harvard which he completed in one year. He stayed on at Harvard, first as a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and then as an Associate Professor. He was offered Full Professorship at University of California at Berkeley at the age of 28, and he has been Professor of Mathematics at Berkeley since then.

Among his awards are the Hermann Weyl Prize, Packard Fellowship in Science and Engineering, and the first Chaire d’Excellence award from Fondation Sciences Mathématiques de Paris. His recent work has focused on the Langlands Program and dualities in Quantum Field Theory. He has collaborated, in particular, with Robert Langlands and Edward Witten.

Recently, Frenkel has turned to cinema, driven by the desire to show the beauty of mathematics and unveil its mysteries to general audience. Visit

Jennifer Quinn to speak on "Mathematics to DIE for: The Battle between Counting and Matching"

picture of QuinnJennifer R. Quinn, University of Washington, Tacoma, will deliver a MAA Invited Address on Wednesday, January 4, 2012, 2:15 p.m. - 3:05 p.m., in Ballrooms A/B, 3rd floor, Hynes. She will speak on Mathematics to DIE for: The battle between counting and matching.

Jennifer R. Quinn earned her BA, MS, and PhD from Williams College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin, respectively. She is currently the Associate Director for Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences at the University of Washington Tacoma where she is working to build a mathematics curriculum on the expanding campus with shrinking resources. Prior to joining UW Tacoma, she served as Executive Director of the Association for Women in Mathematics and before that, spent more than a decade as a faculty member at Occidental College in Los Angeles.

Jenny's professional focus is combinatorics with a special fondness for Fibonacci numbers. She believes that beautiful proofs are as much art as science. Simplicity, elegance, and transparency should be the driving principles. Jenny credits much of her success to amazing opportunities at the MAA and a strong collaboration with Arthur Benjamin.  Together they co-authored the book, Proofs That Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof (published by MAA and winner of the 2006 Beckenback Book Prize) and co-edited MAA’s  Math Horizons from 2003-2008.  An award winning scholar and teacher, perhaps her proudest MAA moment was receiving the Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching in 2007.   She is looking forward to serving as MAA’s Second Vice President from 2013-2015.