The Mathematical Association of America
New Jersey Section

Saturday, November 10, 2001


Registration and Coffee, foyer outside Rm. 100


Book Exhibits, foyer outside Rm. 100


Welcome by Reginald Luke

Dean of the Division of Science, Mathematics and Health Technologies, MCC


Measuring the Universe
Jeffrey Weeks

Presider: Hieu Duc Nguyen, Rowan University


Remarks by the Chair of MAA-NJ
Judith Lenk, Ocean County College


Intermission (Coffee and Book Exhibits)


Nyctaginaceous Plants and Mathematics
Jim Tattersall
, Providence College

Presider: Michael A. Jones, Montclair State University


Lunch (Book Exhibits end at 1:30)


Mathematics and Experiments: The Graph Coloring Problem
Catherine C. McGeoch,
Amherst College

Presider: Olcay Ilicasu, Rowan University


Remarks by Governor of MAA-NJ
Amy Cohen, Rutgers University


Intermission (Silent Auction bidding ends at 2:45)


Clever historical ideas which will motivate your students
V. Frederick Rickey, United States Military Academy

Presider: Carol Avelsgaard, Middlesex County College


Drawing of Door Prizes and Announcement of Silent Auction Winners
(Must be present at drawing to win)


Dinner honoring invited speakers.


Organizing Committee

Mark S. Korlie, Montclair University, Dawn A. Lott, New Jersey Institute of Technology, Theresa C. Michnowicz, New Jersey City University                    


Program Committee

Hieu Duc Nguyen, Rowan University, Larry D'Antonio, Ramapo College, Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey, Reginald Luke, Middlesex County College, Judith Lenk, Ocean County College, Bonnie Gold, Monmouth University


Hosting Committee

Carol Avelsgaard (chair), Maria DeLucia, Reginald Luke, Elena Rakova, Kathy Shay, Georgina Vastola, Mark Weiner, Darlene Yoseloff, Middlesex County College




The MAA-NJ thanks the Mathematics Department of Middlesex County College for their kind hospitality in hosting the meeting.

Abstracts and Biographies of Speakers


Mathematics and Experiments: The Graph Coloring Problem

Catherine C. McGeoch, Amherst College


The Graph Coloring Problem is a generalization of the map-coloring problem to non planar graphs:  for a given graph, the problem is to color the vertices under the constraint that no two adjacent vertices can have the same color.   I shall talk about the problem and its applications, and how experiment can be used to discover new properties of the problem and algorithms for it.


Catherine C. McGeoch is Professor of Computer Science at Amherst College, where she has been on the faculty since receiving her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 1986.   She specializes in the experimental analysis of algorithms.  She co-organized the first of an annual series of DIMACS experimentation challenges in 1991, and she co-founded the ALENEX (Algorithm Engineering and Experimentation) workshop, now an annual event, in 1999.



Clever historical ideas which will motivate your students

V. Frederick Rickey, United States Military Academy


Did you know that the Mercator map projection led to the discovery of the integral of the secant? Telling this story to your students will make this difficult to motivate integral quite natural. And what about the integral of the sine function? Can you do it with "Riemann sums"? Pascal did. Perhaps you have seen the Infinite Acres film and so know of an object that you can't paint the outside of, but the inside can be filled with paint. But do you know how to make "a drinking glass, that had a small weight, but that even the hardiest drinker could not empty." Examples like these will make your calculus students enjoy, learn, and remember your class. Along the way they will learn some interesting history and something about how mathematics is created by some of the best mathematicians who ever lived.


V. Frederick Rickey, a logician turned historian, became Professor of Mathematics at the United States Military Academy, West Point, NY in the summer of 1998. After earning three degrees from the University of Notre Dame (Ph.D. 1968) he went to Bowling Green State University where he rose through the professorial ranks to the rank of Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus. He has broad interests in the history of mathematics and is especially interested in the development of the calculus.

He has been on leave five times, most recently in Washington D. C. where he was Visiting Mathematician at the MAA Headquarters. While there he was involved in the founding of Math Horizons, a magazine for mathematics undergraduates; became the first editor of electronic services for the MAA and built its first gopher and web pages; and wrote a successful NSF grant for an Institute for the History of Mathematics and Its Use in Teaching.


He loves teaching and enjoys giving lectures to mathematicians about the history of their field. He received the first award from the Ohio Section for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics, and one of the first MAA National Awards for teaching.


Nyctaginaceous Plants and Mathematics

James J. Tattersall, Providence College


We investigate the history behind several interesting mathematical techniques and formulas found in undergraduate mathematics courses. In the process of discussing these geometric, number theoretic, and combinatoric tools, we discuss related episodes from the French and Indian War, the spice trade, the French Revolution, and the history of the University of Cambridge.


Jim Tattersall received an undergraduate degree in mathematics from the University of Virginia in 1963, a Master's degree from the University of Massachusetts in 1965, and a Ph.D. degree in mathematics from the University of Oklahoma in 1971. On a number of occasions he has been a visiting scholar at the Department of Pure Mathematics and Mathematical Statistics at Cambridge University. In 1991, he spent six months as a visiting mathematician at the American Mathematical Society. In 1995-1996, he spent eighteen months as a visiting professor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point where he received an Outstanding Civilian Service Medal. He was given the Award for Distinguished Service (1992) and the Award and for Distinguished College Teaching (1997) from the Northeastern Section of the MAA. He served as editor of the Proceedings of the Canadian Society for History and Philosophy of Mathematics from 1992 to 1999. He is past-President of the Canadian Society for the History and Philosophy of Mathematics, Archivist/Historian of NES/MAA, and Associate Secretary of the Mathematical Association of America. His book on number theory was published by Cambridge University Press.

Measuring the Universe

Jeffrey Weeks


How old is the universe?  How big is it?  Is it flat or curved?  This elementary talk will survey humanity's understanding of the geometry of space from ancient times to the present, with an emphasis on current measurements of the microwave background radiation which are already revealing the curvature of space and might eventually reveal its overall size and shape as well.  But even as these measurements answer old questions about the geometry of the universe, they raise new questions about the matter and energy it contains.


Jeffrey Weeks is a freelance mathematician living in Canton, NY. He has an A.B. from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, both in mathematics.  His main interests are geometry, topology, education and cosmology.  After several years of teaching undergraduate mathematics, he resigned to care for his newborn son.  When his son began school, Jeff began doing mathematical research and software development for the University of Minnesota's Geometry Center, designing and implementing research software for creating and studying possible shapes for 3-dimensional space.  Currently a MacArthur Fellow, he splits his time between research and education.  His present research centers on a collaboration with cosmologists, with whom he plans to test the topology of the universe using data to be provided by NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe in 2002-2004.  His educational activities have lead to a multimedia unit for middle schools on geometry and space.  The unit uses classroom activities, computer games, and video to let students explore universes that are finite but have no boundaries.  Jeff is the author of the book The Shape of Space (Marcel Dekker, 1985), the unit Exploring the Shape of Space (Key Curriculum Press, 2001), and various research and expository articles.




Lunch discussion tables for Fall 01 meeting

There will be eight discussion tables at lunch.

  1. CUPM curriculum guide for the next decade, led by Amy Cohen, Rutgers University

2.      CBMS Mathematical Education of Teachers report, led by Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey

3.      Experimentation in undergraduate mathematics, led by Catherine McGeoch, Amherst College

4.      Teaching history of mathematics courses, led by V.  Frederick Rickey, USMA

5.      How to improve MAA national meetings, led by James Tattersall, Providence College

6.      Science in the undergraduate math curriculum, led by Jeffrey Weeks

7.      Mathematics outside of academia, led by Greg Coxson, Lockheed Martin

8.      Assessment, led by Bonnie Gold, Monmouth University

Those who pre-registered have priority at these discussion tables. We look forward to a set of lively and interesting discussions!


MAA-NJ Spring 2002 Meeting

The Spring Meeting of the Mathematical Association of America, New Jersey Section, will be held at Monmouth University, West Long Branch, NJ on April 13, 2002. Speakers include George Andrews of Penn State.  There will also be a workshop on Islamic Art given by Lynn Bodner, of Monmouth.


Call for contributed papers

There will be two contributed paper sessions for MAA members at the MAA-NJ Spring 2002 Meeting.  Papers will be accepted on a first-come

first-serve basis.  Please submit a title and short abstract by February 1, 2001, to Theresa C. Michnowicz, New Jersey City University,, 201-200-3219.


Call for student presentations

There will also be one contributed paper session for students at the MAA-NJ Spring 2002 Meeting.  Papers will be accepted on a first-come first-serve

basis.  Please submit a title and short abstract by February 1, 2001, to Lawrence D'Antonio, Ramapo College of New Jersey, 505 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah, NJ 07430,, 201-684-7714.


MAA-NJ Fall 2002 Meeting

The Fall 2002 MAA-NJ meeting will be held on Saturday, October 26, at Fairleigh Dickinson University (Madison).  Speakers will include Joe Gallian of University of Minnesota, Duluth, and Judith Grabiner of Pitzer College.  Send comments, suggestions, topics to Dawn Lott, MAA-NJ Vice Chair for Speakers, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Center for Applied Mathematics and Statistics, New Jersey Institute of Technology,  Newark, New Jersey 07102, (973)642-7807,


Call for Nominations for the New Jersey Section Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching

The MAA-NJ Section Distinguished Teaching Award Selection Committee is seeking nominations for the 2002 Distinguished College or University Teaching Award.  The winner of this award will be recognized at the Spring 2002 Meeting.  Please submit nominations by January 1, 2002 to: Mark S. Korlie, Secretary of the MAA-NJ Section, Department of Mathematical Sciences, Montclair State University, Upper Montclair, NJ 07043,, 973-655-5300.


New Professional Enhancement Programs through national MAA (PREP)

The MAA has received almost $1 million in funding from the NSF Division of Undergraduate Education National Dissemination Program, for a series of

approximately twenty-five professional enhancement workshops to be held over a three-year period. The first of these, Assessment at the Departmental Level, will involve teams of faculty over a 24 month period, beginning immediately after the joint meetings in San Diego in January; for details,


If you are interested in attending a workshop this summer, a description of programs for summer 2001 and application materials can be found online at


In Memoriam

It is with sadness that we report the recent death of Ruth O'Dell, a former Governor of the MAA New Jersey section.  Ruth was very involved in mathematics education. In addition to being Governor of the section,  she also served on the DIMACS Reconnect Advisory Committee and Module Editorial Board, the Public  Policy Committee on the NJ Mathematics Coalition, the National Membership Committee of MAA and was a past president of the Kean College Board of  Trustees.  Ruth was the organizer of NJ Mathnet and was its first chair.  Ruth was a valued member of our mathematics community and she will be sorely missed by all who were privileged to know her.





MAA-NJ Executive Board


MAA-NJ Governor:

Amy Cohen, Rutgers University




Judith Lenk, Ocean County College


Reginald Luke, Middlesex County College

Vice Chair for
   Two-Year Colleges:


Dawn Lott, NJIT
Theresa C. Michnowicz, NJCU
Amy Boyd, Union County College


Mark Korlie, Montclair State University


Cathy Liebars, The College of New Jersey

Speakers Bureau

Carol Avelsgaard, Middlesex County College

Student Activities Coordinator:

Lawrence D’Antonio, Ramapo College of New Jersey

Public Information Officer:

Hieu Duc Nguyen, Rowan University