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Governor: Calvin Van Niewaal, Coe CollegePast-Chair: Elgin Johnston, Iowa State University
Chair: Larry Naylor, Drake UniversityVice-Chair: Murphy Waggoner, Simpson College
Vice-Chair Elect: Theron Hitchman, University of Northern IowaSecretary: Bernadette Baker, Drake University  
Treasurer: Karen Shuman, Grinnell College Information Director: Al Hibbard, Central College
Liaison Coordinator: Russ Goodman, Central CollegeCompetition Coordinator: Ruth Berger, Luther College 

2009 Iowa Mathematics Meeting
University of Northern Iowa
Cedar Falls, IA
October 9-10, 2009

Call for papers Elections UNI Campus Lodging Schedule Abstracts Preregistering

The annual meeting of the Iowa Section of the Mathematics Association of America will soon be here. We are fortunate to have the Polya Lecture Series speaker Lou Kaufman. Prof. Kaufman will speak Saturday morning on "Knot Theory and Its Ramifications." We are also happy to have Steven Dunbar, Director of Competitions for the MAA, join us at the meeting. Prof. Dunbar will give a talk on the American Mathematics Competitions on Friday night.

Steve Dunbar
Department of Mathematics
University of Nebraska - Lincoln
MAA American Mathematics Competitions

MAA's American Mathematics Competitions: Easy Problems, Hard Problems, History and Outcomes

How do you get bright students hooked on mathematics? How do you keep teachers intellectually engaged and pedagogically innovative? A proven way is to involve them both in mathematics competitions with great problems that span the curriculum. The Mathematical Association of America has continuously sponsored nationwide high-school level math contests since 1952. The sequence of contests now has 5 different contests at increasing levels of mathematical sophistication. Students who succeed at the top level on these contests become the team representing the U.S. at the annual International Mathematical Olympiad. I'll showcase some interesting, easy and hard contest problems, and a little bit of history. Along the way, I'll comment about the intersection of these contests with the school mathematics curriculum.

Louis H. Kauffman
Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science
University of Illinois at Chicago

Introduction to Knot Theory

The theory of knots is a recent part of mathematics. It originated in the tabulation of tables of knots by the mathematicians Tait, Kirkman and Little in the 19th century. These tables were prepared at the behest of Lord Kelvin (Sir William Thompson) who had developed a theory that atoms were three dimensional knotted vortices in the luminiferous aether. Along with these speculations came the development of geometry and topology in the hands of Gauss, Riemann, Poincare and others.

As the knotted vortex theory declined (it has never entirely disappeared!), the mathematics of topology ascended, and the theory of knots came into being as part of the study of low dimensional manifolds, using the fundamental group of Poincare and early versions of homology theory. Max Dehn used the fundamental group to show that a trefoil knot and its mirror image are topologically distinct. J. W. Alexander in the 1920's found a polynomial invariant of knots that bears his name to this day. Kurt Reidemeister, in the 1920's, discovered a set of moves on diagrams for knots that made their classification a (difficult) combinatorial problem. In the 1980's there came a rebirth of these combinatorial schemes in the discovery of the Jones polynomial invariant of knots and links (and its relatives and descendants). Along with the new combinatorial invariants came new relationships with physics and with many fields of mathematics (combinatorics, graph theory, Hopf algebras, Lie algebras, von Neumann algebras, functional integration, category theory) and new kinds of mathematics such as higher categories and categorification.. This talk will discuss the history of knot theory and then it will concentrate on describing the Jones polynomial, its relationships with physics, and recent developments related to categorification.

Call for Student and Faculty Papers

We also hope for a wide a varied collection of talks from our own members. If you would like to give a talk at the meeting please, if possible, use the electronic submission form at: [inactive now]. Proposals for talks are due by TBA. If you are unable to use the submission site, please send the following to Murphy Waggoner at one of the addresses listed below:

Martha Waggoner
Department of Mathematics
Simpson College
701 N C Street
Indianola, IA 50125 

Voice: 515-961-1839
FAX: 515-961-1498

Email:  (please include in your email the subject heading Iowa MAA Meeting.)


We will be holding elections for a new vice chair elect, and a new treasurer at the meeting. The candidates for vice chair elect are Jon White, of Coe College, and Russ Goodman, of Central College. The candidates for treasurer are Sergio Loch, of Grand View University, and Scott Searcy, of Waldorf College. The bios submitted thus far are given below.

UNI Campus Information

A UNI campus map is available at The conference will be held in Schindler Education Center (building code SEC, and building number 19 on the map). For parking, a temporary hang-tag pass for Latham A lot, just west of Schindler Education Center, will be available at the registration desk. (Be sure to go back to your car to post it)

Lodging in Cedar Falls

Here are some choices:


Contact Chair Larry Naylor at lawrence.naylor@DRAKE.EDU (for general questions), Vice-Chair Murphy Waggoner at (for program issues), Vice-Chair Elect Theron Hitchman at (for local, on-site issues), or the Secretary Bernadette Baker at (for registration or other issues).


Thank you for your considering preregistering for the upcoming meeting. This will save time for you at the meeting, make it easier for our secretary at the meeting, and increase efficiency in gathering the data that the MAA headquarters asks of us for each meeting (including gender, whether you are a presenter, and student/faculty/other status). When you come to the registration table at the meeting, indicate that you have already preregistered. Your name will be looked up from the list gathered from this program and you will only need to pay the registration fee ($10) to complete the process. Preregistration takes place here: [inactive now].

IA section database

We are trying to maintain an up-to-date database of all section members to provide better communication and save expenses on mailings. If you have not already updated your information, you may do so and it would be greatly appreciated.