The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA

Origami Workshop
Products of the Origami Workshop
Tom Hull (Merrimack College) speaks on Origami

Laurie Heyer (Davidson College) speaks on

Solving the Hamiltonian Path Problem with Bacterial Computers

Bruce Berndt (Univerity of Illinois) speaks on Ramanujan's Lost Notebook
Student Math Contest
Mathematica Representative

The 2008 Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA

The Eighty Seventh Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America will take place on the campus of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois on April 4 and 5, 2008. 

The meeting includes a banquet on Friday evening with a talk by Tom Hull(  ).  Other plenary speakers are James Tattersall (Associate Secretary of the Mathematical Association of America.), Bruce Bernt (University of Illinois), and Laurie Heyer (Davidson College, NC).  Contributed papers (including those presented by undergraduate students) are solicited.

There will be a workshop with Tom Hull (Merrimack College) on Friday morning, times and details will be given as they become available.

The ISMAA Annual meeting is open to both members and non-members of the Mathematical Association of America.

Meeting Links

Meeting Schedule and Abstracts

Student Math Contest

Origami Geometry Workshop

Registration Information

Schedule of Plenary Speakers

Schedule of Speakers


Student Speakers

Lodging, Transportation, and Parking

Project NeXT Announcement

ISMAA- OUR Awards Announcement


The Illinois Section of the Mathematical Association of America (ISMAA) invites submissions for the 2008 Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Research in Mathematics.

The awards will be given to the best three research papers authored and presented by undergraduate students in any field of mathematics.  For this award student participants are encouraged to produce complete research projects including, but not limited to focusing on interesting mathematical problems, the process of writing manuscripts, creating professional presentations and speaking at professional meetings. Faculty mentors will encourage their students to work on problems with more research emphasis. In addition to helping outstanding students fund their travels to ISMAA Meetings, we believe this award will help introduce selected students gain experience in conducting, writing, presenting and funding research projects.

Working in collaboration with a faculty advisor, undergraduate students who wish to apply for one of these awards should submit the following materials electronically (either as a PDF or MS Word document) to the Awards Committee.

Please include "OUR-Award-Submission" in the subject heading. Papers need not have been submitted for publication in a professional journal at the time of consideration for this award but they have to be complete scientific manuscripts.

The awards will be given to the projects that have the three highest combined scores for both the scientific paper and the presentation This year the  awards for the top three ranked winners will be $250, $150 and $100.  For OUR Award application as well as regular abstract submission deadlines please go to ISMAA 2008 Annual Meeting website.

Questions? Email .

Student Math Contest

You have a deck of 10 cards and on each card there is a single digit between 0 and 9, inclusive.  The digit on the top card equals the number of cards which have a zero on them, and so forth until the digit on the last card is the number of cards with a nine on them. What are the digits, in order from top to bottom, on the cards?

Is this the sort of problem that intrigues you?  Then you should consider competing in our 12th Annual Student Mathematics Contest which will be held on the afternoon of Friday April 4, 2008 during the Annual Meeting of the Illinois Section of the MAA at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois. The Contest is likely to have a minimum of four problems for the teams to consider. Past years' problems, and their solutions, can be found at

A team from a particular college is to consist of up to 3 undergraduate students. A college or university may enter more than one team. Team members may work together in solving the problems and will submit one team solution for each. Electronic computational devices (as well as slide rules and log tables and abacii) are not allowed. Competitors receive preference for a Travel Grant for the ISMAA meeting and will have their conference registration fee waived.

Teams need not register until the day of the Contest, but if you intend to participate in the contest, it would be helpful if you would inform Peter Andrews at

The participating teams will receive the results of the contest as soon as they become available. The Contest results will also be posted on the ISMAA website.

For additional information on the contest, please contact Peter Andrews at the above address.

Project NExT Program

Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching) is a professional development program of the MAA, with major funding provided by the Exxon Education Foundation, and additional funding from several other sources. This program is designed to support new college faculty in their teaching, scholarly, and professional activities and and to help these new faculty members to get involved in the mathematical community beyond their own institutions.

The success of Project NExT on the national level has prompted a number of MAA sections to organize their own local versions of this program. The Tenth Annual ISMAA Project NExT Program will be held in conjunction with the ISMAA annual meeting at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois, March 30, 2007- March 31, 2007. Up to nine 2007 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows will be selected. Anyone within their first four years of teaching mathematics (after finishing a master's or doctoral degree) at any two or four-year college or university in Illinois is eligible, as well as any graduate students at universities in Illinois who are completing their PhD this year and have a position in Illinois for the 2008-2009 academic year. 2008 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows' meeting registration, pre-conference workshop registration, opening banquet fees, and Friday and Saturday lunches at the annual meeting will be paid for by the ISMAA Project NExT for the 2008 and 2009 ISMAA Annual Meetings.

The 2008 Program will begin on the morning of Friday, April 4, 2008 with Dr. Thomas Hull, Associate Professor of Mathematics at Merrimack College, presenting the conference workshop on the mathematics of origami.  The workshop is followed by an opening lunch at which new ISMAA NExT fellows will have an opportunity to get to know one another as well as other sectional Fellows and national NExT Fellows. The ISMAA Project NExT program will conclude on the afternoon of Saturday, April 5, 2008, following the closing address of the ISMAA meeting. After a brief box lunch, the group will reconvene for a session devoted to professional development opportunities in the ISMAA and the MAA. This year we will match new ISMAA NExT Fellows with a Mentor at the meeting. It is expected that each Mentor-Fellow pair will continue to communicate about professional development issues throughout the following academic year.

Application materials for 2008 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows can be accessed via the links below. For further information, please contact the Director for the ISMAA Project NExT Program:

2008 ISMAA Project NExT Application (MS Word)
2008 ISMAA Project NExT Application (pdf

Timothy D. Comar
Department of Mathematics
Benedictine University
5700 College RD
Lisle, Illinois 60532
PHONE: (630) 829-6555
FAX: (630) 829-6551

The registration deadline for the 2007 ISMAA Project NExT Fellows is March 3, 2008.


Meeting Schedule and Abstracts


Origami Geometry Workshop

Tom Hull 

Conference Workshop

We will explore some of the ways in which origami and math feed off  each other by getting our hands dirty with paper folding!  In honor  of the MAA, we'll fold a modular icosahedron and witness a chance to explore Johnson Solids.  We will also explore the currently hot area  of mathematical paper folding known as origami tessellations.

Registration for this workshop is open to all ISMAA Annual Meeting Attendees and is part of the ISMAA Project NExT Program. Questions about this workshop should be directed to Tim Comar at or 630-829-6555.

Registration Information

Workshop:  $15 (Registration Deadline March 16)

The workshop will be held on Friday, April 4, 9:30-noon. The registration fee includes lunch on Friday.

Conference Registration: Online Registration (until March 28) is $20.


                                             On-site registration (Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union 2nd Floor) is available for $25

Student registration $10 (waived for students presenting papers or competing in the Student Math Contest

Registration fee for retirees is $10

Registration is waived for first year MAA members and for 2007 and 2008  ISMAA Section NExT fellows

Plenary Speaker Schedule

Friday, April 4, 2008 

(Most talks will be held on the 3rd floor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union, times subject to change)

Opening Talk (12:00PM-1:00PM)


James Tattersall, Providence

ABSTRACT: The contents of two first century (A.D.) manuscripts, the Introduction to Arithmetic, by Nicomachus of Gerasa and Mathematics Useful for Understanding Plato by Theon of Smyrna, will be discussed. They were the main sources of knowledge of formal Greek arithmetic in the Middle Ages. The books are philosophical in nature, contain few original results and no formal proofs. They abound, however, in intriguing number theoretic observations. We will extend some of the results found in these ancient volumes and introduce several types of numbers that lend themselves naturally to undergraduate research.

Banquet Talk (After dinner, approximately 8:00PM)

Origami Math and its Increasing Intersections

Tom Hull, Merrimack College

ABSTRACT:Mathematical studies of origami (paper folding) have been enjoying growing attention over the past 5 years.  Computational folding 
problems have found applications in protein folding, and engineering  fields from nanotechnology to solar panels in outer space have turned  to origami for assistance.  Such attention had led to a deeper  understanding of the various ways in which paper folding can be  modeled mathematically.  One surprise has been the sheer number of  different branches of math that can be applied to origami.  From geometry to abstract algebra to number theory to combinatorics,  origami seems to crimp its way into everything.  This talk will  present a survey of the diverse field that is origami mathematics as  well as present some of the history behind such connections.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Opening Talk (8:30AM-9:30AM)

Solving the Hamiltonian Path Problem with Bacterial Computers

Laurie Heyer, Davidson College, North Carolina

ABSTRACT:The international Genetically Engineered Machines competition is an undergraduate contest to design and build living machines. Our collaborative team of mathematics and biology majors from Davidson College and Missouri Western State University designed a specialized computer to solve the Hamiltonian Path Problem. I will describe the mathematical modeling we used to analyze the design and use of bacteria to solve this famous problem from graph theory.

Closing Talk (12:00PM-1:00PM)

Ramanujan's Lost Notebook

Bruce Berndt, U of Illinois


ABSTRACT:Srinivasa Ramanujan, generally regarded as the greatest mathematician in Indian  history, was born in 1887 and died in 1920 at the age of 32.  Most of his work was recorded without proofs in notebooks.  In the spring of 1976, while searching through papers of the late G. N. Watson at Trinity College, Cambridge, George Andrews found a sheaf of 138 pages in Ramanujan's handwriting.  In view of the fame of Ramanujan's "ordinary" notebooks, Andrews naturally called this collection of sheets Ramanujan's "lost notebook." This work, comprising about 650 results with no proofs, arises from the last year of Ramanujan's life and represents some of his deepest work. After a brief history of Ramanujan's life and notebooks, the history and origin of the lost notebook will be given.  The remainder of the lecture will be devoted to a survey of some of the most interesting entries in the lost notebook.  These include claims about theta functions, continued fractions, integrals, partitions, q-series, and other infinite series.

For additional information on the program, please contact the program committee or:

Peter Andrews
Mathematics Department
Eastern Illinois University
Charleston, Illinois 61920
(217) 581-6275