Santa Clara University

Mathematics and Computer Science department

SCU Mathematics/CS Colloquium Series

Winter 2009

All talks are Tuesdays at 4:00 pm in O’Connor 106, unless otherwise announced.

January 27: Plamen Koev, San Jose State University

Title: Applications and Computational Challenges of Random Matrices —from Genomics to Target Recognition

Abstract:  How does one automatically classify a number of objects (people/vehicles/genes) info several meaningful groups given (a vector of) measurements on these objects? Are these objects distinct enough for such a classification to even make sense in the first place?

These are some of the questions that multivariate statistics attempts to answer and there exist powerful random matrix theory methods to address them. Through examples that range from automatic 3D target recognition and classification to genomics, I will present the elegant connections that the solutions to these problems have with the fields of combinatorics and algebra, as well as the multitude of challenges in computing and implementing these ideas in practice.

No prior knowledge of statistics, algebra, or numerical analysis will be expected and the talk should be easily accessible to undergraduates.

February 3: Gunnar Carlsson, Stanford University

Title: Topology and Data

Abstract:  Science and engineering disciplines produce data in great quantities and of great diversity; developing methods to analyze it is a major priority within these disciplines.  Because of the presence of a great deal of noise as well as absence of precise theoretical models for the data, new methods are required.  It turns out that topological methods can often address some of these problems.  In this talk, we will discuss these properties of data, and demonstrate how topological methods may be adapted to help in understanding the data.  Examples will be given.

February 10: Laura Huston, Santa Clara University, and Erin Justice, California State University Monterey Bay
Title: Understanding Environmental Issues Using NASA Satellites—The NASA DEVELOP Internship Program

Abstract: In this talk we present an overview of the DEVELOP summer internship program—what it is, what it does, philosophy, etc..  We describe past projects, looking at two specific projects in greater detail: 1) West Nile Virus risk assessment for Monterey County and 2) climate change, melting sea ice, and its effect on Pacific Walrus populations.  Then we dive into our project from last summer (monitoring air quality in the San Joaquin Valley) and reveal the summer 2009 projects.  Students interested in Geograph Information Systems (GIS) are encouraged to apply to the DEVELOP program (  Some experience with GIS or computer programming is desirable.  Applications are due February 23, 2009.  This is an exciting program, and we hope to see you there!

February 17: Katherine Kelm, CSU Fresno

Title:  Drawing on balloons:  Pictures of the second homotopy module of a 2-complex

Abstract:  A two-dimensional CW complex, or 2-complex, is a topological space formed from vertices, edges and faces. The second homotopy group of a 2-complex having fundamental group G can be given a ZG-module structure. We establish generators for the second homotopy modules of some families of 2-complexes using the theory of pictures.

February 24: Guy Ramon, Department of Physics, SCU
Title: Quantum computation (and its realization with electron spins in quantum dots)
Abstract: The interest in quantum information and computation has grown tremendously since the advent of quantum algorithms that outperform significantly their classical counterparts. In this talk I will give a brief primer to quantum computational software, providing a few examples of its unexpected outcomes, and briefly discussing the potential realization of a quantum computer with electron spins localized in semiconductor quantum dots.

March 3: Christopher Hillar, MSRI

Title: Groebner bases and applications

Abstract: Simply said, algebraic geometry is the study of solutions 
to polynomial equations.  However, it was not until Buchberger's 1965 Ph.D. thesis that an effective algorithm was developed to automate the process of working with general systems.  We shall introduce the general subject of Groebner bases and computational mathematics and see how these concepts can be used to solve fundamental problems in algebraic geometry, integer programming, graph theory, and many other places.  This lecture is suitable for a wide audience and no previous knowledge of Groebner bases is assumed.

March 10:  Last week of classes: probably no talk.

There will be refreshments before the talk in O'Connor 31 starting at 3:45pm.
If you have a disability and require a reasonable accommodation, please call or email Frank Farris 408-554-4430 or .

Abstracts of previous talks are available here.
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