North Central Mathematical Bulletin

The newsletter of the North Central Section
of the
Mathematical Association of America

Volume 6 Number 1 March 2003

Table of Contents

Governor's Report 2002 NCS Team Competition Results
President's Report 2002 NCS Team Competition Problems/Solutions
Secretary's Report Campus News
Treasurer's Report

Other Local Spring Section Meetings

Student Chapter Coordinator's Report

Conferences and Courses

Spring Section Meeting

Future Section Meetings

2003 Section Team Competition Information for contributors

Governor's Report

Mike Hvisten
Gustavus Adolphus College

The winter meeting of the Board of Governor's was held in Baltimore, Maryland on January 14, 2003. Here are a few of the major highlights from the meeting:

1. A major high point of the meeting was the announcement of a major gift from Paul and Virginia Halmos to fund a Mathematical Sciences Conference Center at the Washington headquarters of the MAA. This gift will be used to restore the historic carriage house, one of three buildings in the MAA's complex in the Dupont Circle nieghborhood of Washington.

2. By the time you read this, the MAA will have launched an on-line bookstore for the purchase of MAA books and other materials. Members using this web site will be able to purchase MAA books at member discount prices. This effort accompanies a major re-design of the MAA's web page ( and a revamping of the MAA's suite of electronic services.  MAA books can also be found on-line at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles web sites.

3. A new national MAA award was passed by the board and will be called the Henry L. Alder Award for Distinguished Teaching by Beginning Faculty. The award honors Henry L. Alder, a long-time supporter and officer of the MAA who passed away in 2002. His estate gave the MAA $100,000 to establish the award. In Henry's honor the board observed a moment of silence at the January meeting.

4. The MAA has started a new program titled "Preparing Mathematicians to Educate Teachers" (PMET). The purpose of this program, which has been funded through the National Science Foundation, is to do as the title suggests, help faculty better prepare K-12 teachers. There are several workshops organized for this summer and more information can be found at

5. The MAA Committee on Elections brought a proposal to the board that elections be carried out in the future via a combination of electronic and mail balloting. This was endorsed by the board of governors and will require changes in the MAA by-laws.

6. Membership in the MAA is holding steady, at about 25,000 members.

7. The budget concerns of last year were successfully addressed by MAA staff via cost-cutting measures, with the result that the MAA ended the 2002 budget year with a net surplus.

8. The next MathFest will be in Boulder, Colorado, on July 31 - August 2, 2003. The next joint meeting will be in Phoenix, Arizona, on Jnuary 7-10, 2004.

See you in April.

President's Report

M. B. Rao

North Dakota State University


Secretary's Report

Wally Sizer

Minnesota State University, Moorhead

The fall, 2002, meeting of the North Central Section was held at Minnesota State University Moorhead on October 25-26.  Fifty-six people attended.  Invited speakers were Professor Davis Cope of NDSU and Dr. Michael O’Fallon of the Mayo Clinic.  The spring, 2003, meeting is at Macalester College in St. Paul April 25-26; the fall, 2003 meeting will be at the University of Sioux Falls, and the spring, 2004, meeting will be at Winona State University.  Suggestions of ideas for future meetings are welcome and may be communicated to any officer (names and addresses are listed elsewhere on this site).

At our fall meeting, to encourage speakers to volunteer at future meetings, the section voted to waive registration fees at meetings for all speakers.  We hope this might encourage you to volunteer to speak at a meeting soon.  (See the call for papers for the spring meeting!).

Treasurer's Report

Tom Sibley
St. John's University

The section's books came out even on December 31, as I reported to the national office, and we are financially sound.  It's a new year, so I'd like to encourage you to think about institutional memberships in the section.  And while you are thinking, think about the upcoming summer seminar, announced elsewhere in the newsletter.  See you at Macalester in April.

Tom Sibley
Math Dept.
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN 56321-3000


Student Chapter Coordinator's

Richard Jarvinen
Winona State University


The deadline for making requests for students to be speakers at MathFest 2003 in Boulder, Colorado, this summer is June 27, 2003.  Go to the MAA website for further details [see Student Chapters menu item].  In the past up to $600 in support of a student to travel to give a talk has been available, but only to students who are members of an MAA Student Chapter. 
Bemidji State, Carleton, Fond du Lac, Gustavus, Macalester, Moorhead State, North Dakota State, Northwestern College, South Dakota State, St. Olaf, University of Minnesota-Mpls/StP, St. Thomas, and Winona State University currently have Student Chapters.
It is easy to initiate and maintain a Student Chapter.  I see no reason why every institution should not have a Student Chapter and provide its students with this professional opportunity.  On behalf of students, please seriously consider instituting an MAA Student Chapter through your department.


Spring Section Meeting 

The spring 2003 North Central Section meeting will be at Macalester College in St. Paul on April 25-26.  We have a special treat this year with three invited speakers.  Gil Strang of MIT will be the Friday evening speaker.  The title of his talk is "Teaching and Enjoying Linear Algebra."  On Saturday morning, Professor Frank Farris of Santa Clara University will speak on "Forbidden Symmetry—Relaxing The Crystallographic Restriction" and on Saturday afternoon, section teaching award winner Professor Robert Lacher of SDSU will give a talk entitled "A Favorite Lesson:  Introduction To Statistical Estimation."

More information on the meeting as well as a call for papers can be found here.  In an effort to encourage attendance and presentations, Saturday's lunch will be free to all speakers.

2003 NCS Team Competition

The seventh annual NCS Team Contest will be held on Saturday, November 15, 2003.  An announcement and invitation to participate will be sent by email in September to at least one member of the Mathematics Department of each college and university in the Section.  If you are unsure whether anyone from your department is receiving these announcements, contact Jerry Heuer at  Information regarding past contests can be found here.

2002 NCS Team Competition


The sixth annual NCS/MAA Team Contest was held on Saturday, November 16, with 70 teams from 23 universities and colleges participating, topping the previous record of 64 teams from 21 institutions set in 2001.  The expenses of the competition are covered by a fee of $15 per team.  Teams of up to three undergraduate students work collaboratively at their home campuses on the ten problems, under the supervision of one or more faculty members.  The problems count 10 points each, and scores this year ranged from 1 to 100, with a median of 36.  One team scored 100, two scored in the 90s, four in the 80s, five in the 70s, four in the 60s, five in the 50s, eight in the 40s, seventeen in the 30s, thirteen in the 20s, five in the teens and six in single digits.  More detailed information can be found here.

Campus News

Normandale Community College

A new two-year degree, the Associate of Arts with an emphasis in mathematics, will be offered next year at Normandale. Tom Naughton has identified a set of required and elective courses totaling 23-24 semester credits that would transfer to four-year institutions to satisfy most Mathematics major requirements through Sophomore level. The department has unanimously approved his proposal, sending it on for final approval to the Academic Affairs and Standards Committee which is considering similar “degrees with emphasis” in other departments. (Submitted by Peggy Rejto)

St. Cloud State University

Budget cutting will be the name of the game in the next several years.  The move to larger general education has already begun.  Searches have been put on hold and it is unclear how needs will be filled in the near future.  In other news, the statistics program is looking to implement a master's degree program.  

University of Minnesota - Duluth

Joe Gallian and Doug Dunham from UMD have responsibility for creating the poster and web site for Mathematics Awareness Month (April) 2003. The theme this year is Mathematics and Art. The web address is

In other news, Harlan Stech is back as chair following what he calls a very enjoyable and stimulating sabbatical break.  Professor Kang James, Director of Undergraduate Studies, was named the 2002 recipient of the Jean G. Blehard Distinguished Teaching Award.  Sabra Anderson is in England directing UMD's Study in England Program at Birmingham University for the next two years.  Joe Gallian was named a Fellow of the Council on Undergraduate Research in recognition of the undergraduate research program he holds in Duluth each summer.  Zhuangyi Liu and Robert McFarland are on sabbatical leave for the academic year.  

Student Paul Herzog won the 2001-02 Sylvan Burgstahler Departmental Service Award and student Betsy LaPlant won the Duane E. Anderson Memorial Graduate Fellowship.  Other awards at UMD include the Grace C. Peterson Calculus Achievement Awards and the James L. Nelson Memorial Undergraduate Scholarships.  (From UMD department newsletter submitted by Joe Gallian)

Winona State University

A career profile of Richard Jarvinen has been included in the recent MAA publication:  101 Careers in Mathematics, 2nd edition, Andrew Sterrett, Editor.  Jarvinen's career affiliation in each year since 1995 with NASA as a Research Science Consultant is an aspect of his professional life that is featured.

In fact, Jarvinen has recently been quite involved in matters related to the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster.  In this regard, a week ago this last Sunday, he was part of the front page story in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune Sunday edition together with a U of M professor.  Most recently he was interviewed by the Washington Post (for 2 hrs), with that story still brewing.  Jarvinen has worked with NASA in each year since 1995, most recently on matters pertaining to predictors for safe landing conditions (2001, 2002).  

Other Local Spring Section Meetings

Wisconsin Section UW-Marathon, Wausau, WI
25-26 APRIL 2003
Nebraska/SE South Dakota Section South Dakota University, Vermillion, SD
28-29 March 2003
Iowa Section Northern Iowa University
4-5 APRIL 2003

Conferences and Courses

Twenty-fourth Annual Pi Mu Epsilon Student Conference

4-5 April 2003
College of St. Benedict
St. John's University
Collegeville, MN

The 24th Annual Pi Mu Epsilon undergraduate mathematics research conference will be held at St. John's University on Friday, April 4 and Saturday, April 5.  The invited speaker is Colin Adams from Williams College.  His Friday evening talk will be given by alter ego Sir Randolph Bacon III (Cousin-in-Law to Colin Adams) and is titled Blown Away: What Knot to Do When Sailing.  In what could be viewed as extreme laziness on behalf of Professor Adams, his Saturday talk will be given by Mel Slugbate (Brother-in-Law to Colin Adams) and it titled Real Estate in Hyperbolic Space: Investment Opportunities for the Next Millennium.  In addition, as always, undergraduate speakers will be featured, so start encouraging your students to prepare talks. 

To submit a talk, or for further information, contact
Marc Brodie
Phone: 320-363-5867

or visit

North Central Section Summer Seminar 2003
A Tour of Combinatorial Games
Speaker: Elwyn Berlekamp

4-8 August 2003
Gustavus Adolphus College
St. Peter, MN

Gustavus Adolphus College will host the Summer Seminar in early August 2003. The topic will be combinatorial games and the main speaker will be Elwyn Berlekamp.  More information, including information on registration can be found at  The contact person for this event is David Wolfe ( of Gustavus Adolphus College.

Fifth Annual Mathematics on the Northern Plains

29 March 2003
University of South Dakota
Vermillion, SD

The 5th Annual Mathematics on the Northern Plains undergraduate mathematics research conference will be held at the University of South Dakota in Vermillion SD on March 29, 2003.  The registration deadline is March 22, 2003.  The invited speaker is Joe Gallian.  His talks are entitled "Touring the Torus" and "Who is the Greatest Hitter of them all?"   In addition, as always, undergraduate speakers will be featured, so start encouraging your students to prepare talks. 

To submit a talk, or for further information, contact
Dan Schaal or Dan Van Peursem at
Phone: 605-677- 5992

or visit

MAA PREP Workshops

Summer 2003

The MAA's Professional Enhancement Program (PREP) will offer a wide variety of workshops during summer 2003. PREP workshops offer you the chance to spend a few days exploring topics of mutual interest with colleagues from other institutions, with experienced leaders to guide the group towards a deeper understanding and broader perspective. Most of the cost of attending a PREP workshop is covered by the program, so what are you waiting for? Visit the PREP web site, to see this year's schedule and to obtain registration materials.

MAA MathFest 2003

31 July - 2 August 2003
Boulder, CO

For more information as it becomes available, go to

MCTM 2003 Spring Conference

25-26 April 2003
DECC - Duluth Entertainment Convention Center
Duluth, MN

For more information, go to

Future Section Meetings

Fall 2003 University of Sioux Falls
Spring 2004 Winona State University

Information for contributors

Submissions should be sent via mail to:

Dale Buske
720 4th Ave. S.
St. Cloud, MN  56301

Or (and preferably) by electronic mail to:

This newsletter was last updated May 30, 2003.