Mathematical Association of America
Southern California-Nevada Section

Newsletter Spring 2015
Table of Contents

Greetings from the MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Chair

Herbert Medina, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, CA

Shahriar Shahriari (Pomona College), left, and Herbert Medina (Loyola Marymount University) just after Shahriari received the MAA Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, in January of this year.

The fall meeting of the Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA took place on November 1, 2014 at Pomona College. The meeting featured plenary talks by Francis Bonahon who introduced the audience to the notion of curvature on “objects” that perhaps we wouldn’t ever think of as having curvature such as mountain passes and summits and the Internet, Susan Horn who discussed how recent work in statistics is revolutionizing the way in which the medical field looks at the efficacy of clinical trials, and Shahriar Shahriari who introduced problems in combinatorics that “have no right to be open.” The presentation by Prof. Shahriari was especially noteworthy as he is the 2014 MAA Southern California-Nevada Section Distinguished Teaching Award winner and one of three 2015 MAA Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award recipients, the highest national teaching honor awarded yearly by the MAA. I was fortunate enough to be on the selection committee for the section teaching award last year and had the pleasure of introducing Shahriar and of sitting in the front row for his talk; what a treat! I also was at the ceremony at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Antonio, Texas, during which Shahriar was presented the Haimo Award; I couldn’t help taking a “groupie” photo with him afterwards since I definitely am a fan of him and his work.

And now that March is upon us, we realize that we only have a few days to wait for the Spring 2015 Section Meeting on 14 March 2015 at Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks. I really should write that the meeting will take place on 3 14 15, better known as Super Pi Day which only comes along once each century! And actually, I should mention that we have “gloating rights” over most of the rest of the world where they write their dates day-month-year, instead of month-day-year as we do in the States, because they will never have a Pi Day! (Try it: you’ll see that the only way it would work is if April had 31 days.)

Aside from taking place on such a special day, the meeting is noteworthy as it is a joint meeting with the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Math Conference (PCUMC), and we also will be celebrating the MAA Centennial.

The meeting will feature a plenary talk titled “Weird Ways to Work with Pi” by James Tanton, MAA Scholar in Residence, and another titled “The Lives of Pi” by Luke Anderson from the University of Colorado Boulder. There also will be panels, student talks and poster presentations, contests, and lots of other activities to keep us mathematically entertained the entire day.

Hope to see you at Cal Lutheran on 3 14 15. Who knows, maybe we’ll run into each other at 9:26:54 that day! ;-)

A few interesting fact about pi

  • Early approximations to pi were actually quite good: Archimedes (287-212 B.C.): 223/771< π < 22/7 and Zu Chongzi (429-501): π ≈ 355/113.
  • The use of the Greek letter to denote the ratio of circumference to diameter of a circle was introduced by William Jones in 1706, but its use was popularized by Leonhard Euler, who adopted it in 1737.
  • The current world record for computing decimal digits of pi is held by someone referred to as “houkouonchi” who used the program y-cruncher written by Alexander J. Yee to compute 13.3 trillion digits on a custom built desktop computer; the computation was completed in October 2014 ( The previous world record was held by Shigeru Kondo and Yee who teamed up to compute 12.1 trillion digits; their computation finished in December 2013 ( Their reason for doing this, “Because it’s pi.”
  • Yee’s program uses the Chudnovsky series
    1/pi series
    which converges very rapidly (some 14 additional decimal digits of accuracy with each term). Today, this series is considered the most efficient numerical method for attacking the problem of computing digits of pi. Who will find the next “most efficient” method?
  • According to Wikipedia, the world record for reciting digits of pi from memory is held by Akira Haraguchi who recited 100,000 in October 2006; it took him more than 16 hours.

Spring Meeting at California Lutheran University

Meeting Web Site

Visit the meeting web site for a program, speakers' abstracts and bios, directions, and information about registration.

Click here for more information

Joint meeting with the
Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference (PCUMC)

Register on-line!

California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, California
When? SUPER PI DAY! Of course! That's Saturday, March 14, 2015

Showcasing Students

The Southern California-Nevada Section of the MAA joins the PCUMC this Spring to showcase the work of our students. Student presenters choose between giving a talk or a poster. Student registration for this meeting is free.

Invited Addresses

Panel Sessions (Concurrent)

Fun and games!

  • Origami icosahedron construction, in celebration of the MAA's Centennial
  • Pi recitation contest 3.1415...
  • And ... pie!
Join us to celebrate the MAA's Centennial and the PCUMC's 10th year! See you there!

Save these dates for future national MAA meetings!

Summer 2015 Washington, DC August 5-8
Winter 2016 Seattle, WA January 6-9
Summer 2016 Columbus, OH August 3-6
Winter 2017 Atlanta, GA January 4-7
Summer 2017 Chicago, IL July 26-29
Winter 2018 San Diego, CA January 10-12
Summer 2018 Denver, CO August 1-4
Winter 2019 Baltimore, MD January 16-19
Summer 2019 Cincinnati, Ohio July 31-August 3
Winter 2021 Washington, DC January 6-9
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