Fall 2018


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 2-143.

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, 5:30/5:45 pm, in 4-145

Date: November 29, 5:45 pm
Title: Introduction to Decoupling Inequalities
Speaker: Jose A. Esparza
Decoupling inequalities are tools from harmonic analysis that deal with when a family of functions behave as if they were "almost orthogonal". These inequalities have been used in the last few years to improve bounds on problems related to partial differential equations and number theory. We present an introduction of the ideas, history of decoupling theorems, and applications.

Date: October 10, 5:45 pm
Title: Lightning talks
Speaker: you!

Date: October 3, 5:45 pm
Title: Hacking (almost) everything with Fenwick trees
Speaker: Yang Yan
Fenwick trees (alternatively BITs or binary indexed trees) are one of the least theoretically significant but most practically useful data structures that are rarely taught in algorithms classes. We'll learn the basic theory behind Fenwick trees, expand them to multiple dimensions, and finally explore hacking memory constraints, RMQ/LCA, and segment tree problems with them.

Date: September 26, 5:45 pm
Title: A higher order theory of graphs
Speaker: Mendel Keller
What is in a movie, that isn't in the set of still images it's comprised of? We will use category theory to develop a context for discussing what it means to compose behaviors. In particular, we will present a discrete temporal type theory, where we use an augmented copy of the natural numbers to represent intervals, and set-valued functors for behavior types. We will then find a natural embedding of the category of directed graphs into our category of study, which gives rise to a higher order graph theory, with a focus on longer paths and not merely vertices and edges.
Prerequisites: knowledge of category theory will be useful, particularly presheaves and presheaf categories, although I will try to introduce any categorical constructions I make use of.
Related readings:

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.

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.)