Fall 2017


Founded in March 2014, the SCUM is a series of weekly math talks/panels by (mostly) undergraduates, for undergraduates, at MIT. Anyone is invited to speak about a math topic he or she finds interesting, sometimes but usually not original research, and talks are open to the MIT community (as well as interested visitors, e.g. from Harvard). With the support of the MIT Mathematics Department (and in past semesters, the Undergraduate Mathematics Association (UMA), Undergraduate Society of Women in Math (USWIM), and the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament), SCUM also features free dinner each week! We'll meet weekly on Wednesdays, 5:30--6:30 PM, in room 2-147.

If you are interested in picking up a talk, please send a title and abstract, as well as any appropriate references (optional but recommended), to scum-exec@mit.edu. (If you have any food preferences, let us know!) In addition, please include a preference for dates, and any other accommodations you will need (e.g. projector). Talks should be fifty minutes long and accessible to first-year undergraduate math majors. We strongly recommend attending several SCUM talks before signing up to give one yourself.

(For logistical tips/advice on organizing such activities yourself, see below here.)

There are other math events that go on in the Cambridge area: at MIT, we have the Undergraduate Math Association, as well as the Harvard-MIT Math Tournament. There's also Tea with Mathematicians; we'll update this site with the dates for when undergraduates are invited to attend. (Harvard also has weekly tea in its math department.)

Upcoming Talks, Panels, etc.

To receive email announcements, make sure you are either a declared MIT math major (which by definition excludes all freshmen first semester), or on the scum-interest mailing list (possibly via UMA or USWIM). If you do not have MIT certificates, email scum-exec@mit.edu and we'll manually add you to the mailing list.

Alternatively, you can like or follow us on Facebook.

Organizers: Sanath Devalapurkar, Marisa Gaetz, Elizabeth Han, Brice Huang, Ahaan Rungta, and Henry Shackleton.
Meeting Time/Place: Wednesdays, 5:30 PM, in 4-145

The following Wednesdays are open for talks, panels, or other activities: next semester (Fall 2017) is completely open!

Let us know if you (or someone you know) might like to give a talk, or if you have suggestions for topics/ideas you would like to see in future talks.

Date: November 15, 5:45 pm
Title: Error-Correcting Codes and Expander Graphs
Speaker: Brice Huang
Error-correcting codes are a way to send a message over a noisy channel with no information loss. As these codes are widely used in modern communication systems, constructing families of efficient error-correcting codes is an important problem in coding theory. We will explore results in coding theory, culminating in the celebrated Sipser-Spielman construction from expander graphs. No prior knowledge of coding theory will be assumed.

Date: November 8, 5:45 pm
Title: Dynkin diagrams
Speaker: Tahsin Saffat
We discuss classifications of Dynkin diagrams and explore some results in representation theory are deeply connected with Dynkin diagrams.

Date: September 20, 5:45 pm
Title: 163 and all that
Speaker: Sanath Devalapurkar
A calculator with a lot of precision will tell you that e^{pi*sqrt(163)} is extremely close to being an integer. Replacing 163 by the numbers 67 and 43 will also give numbers that are almost integers. This might seem like a silly observation; but, as it turns out, the almost-integer-ness of these powers of e^{pi} is a related to some very deep mathematical ideas, like "elliptic curves with complex multiplication" and the "class number one problem". The goal of this talk will be to explain what these terms mean, and show how we can deduce that e^{pi*sqrt(N)} is almost an integer for N = 163, 67, 43 from this theory. Time permitting, we'll discuss generalizations.

Past Talks, Panels, etc.

See the archive here.

Related Logistical Advice

If you would like to organize such math activities yourself, you can request room reservations in the Math Department HQ (next to Academic Services). (In particular, Barbara Peskin covers recurring, e.g. weekly, reservations. Make sure to specify room specifications, e.g. "flat, seats 30, tables and chairs, video projector". It is difficult to request specific rooms, so instead it is probably wise to request to *not* have certain bad rooms. You can also probably easily find out the right people to ask for logistical things like funding or term-to-term seminar-listing adjustments; email us if you have questions.

Food-related: MIT students do not need to pay tax (see here for tax exemption forms). One convenient option is to set up a tax-exempt account on Foodler, as described in their FAQ. (You can often request plates, utensils, cups, and napkins. Drinks are often cheaper separately, e.g. at convenience stores.)