Home /  MSRI-UP 2008: Experimental Mathematics


MSRI-UP 2008: Experimental Mathematics June 14, 2008 - July 27, 2008
Parent Program: --
Location: SLMath: Baker Board Room, Atrium
Organizers Duane Cooper (Morehouse College), Ricardo Cortez (Tulane University), Herbert Medina (University of Portland), Victor H. Moll (Tulane University), LEAD Ivelisse M. Rubio (University of Puerto Rico), Suzanne Weekes (SIAM - Society of Industrial and Applied Mathematics)

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The MSRI-UP is a comprehensive program for undergraduates that aims at increasing the number of students from underrepresented groups in mathematics graduate programs. MSRI-UP includes summer research opportunities, mentoring, workshops on the graduate school application process, and follow-up support. 

MSRI-UP 2008: Experimental Mathematics

General Description:

The MSRI-UP will:

  • Train undergraduates in mathematical research through a six-week summer program at MSRI in Berkeley, CA.
  • Provide participating students opportunities to present their research at national conferences in the year following the summer program.
  • Introduce participating students to a network of mentors through national societies known for their mentoring activities and professional support for students.
  • Guide students in the process of applying to graduate programs and fellowships.

Details of the 2008 summer program:

  • Eighteen students will participate in research on Experimental Mathematics led by Dr. Victor Moll from the Tulane University, a post-doc and two graduate assistants
  • Students who will finish their sophomore or junior year in 2008 are preferred. African American, Latino and Native American students are especially sought
  • Each student will receive room and board, a $3,000 summer stipend, transportation to and from Berkeley, and funding to attend a national conference

The directors of MSRI-UP are:

The 2008 MSRI-UP was funded by grants from the National Security Agency (NSA Grant H98230-08-1-0063), the National Science Foundation (NSF Grant 0754872), a donation from the Gauss Research Foundation in Puerto Rico, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute (MSRI).

gauss research foundation logo  

MSRI-UP 2008 Participants

The seventeen students who participated in the 2008 MSRI-UP came from universities in California, Georgia, Louisiana, Massachusetts, New York, Puerto Rico, Texas and Washington. They worked in groups of three or four students on research projects in the area of Experimental Mathematics. Their research was directed by Professor Victor H. Moll from Tulane University. Professor Moll was assisted by Luis A. Medina, a Postdoctoral Fellow at Rutgers University, Erin Beyerstedt, a graduate student at Tulane University, and Candice Price, a graduate student at the University of Iowa.

View the 2008 biographies of MSRI-UP program leaders and assistants and a list of participants.

View a list of 2008 MSRI-UP Colloquia Speakers

MSRI-UP 2008 Research Topic: Experimental Mathematics

The last twenty years have been witness to a fundamental shift in the way mathematics is practiced. With the continued advance of computational power and accessibility, the view that "real mathematicians do not compute" no longer exists for the current generations. In this program the students will take real advantage of the computational tools that exists in symbolic languages like Mathematica and Maple to investigate interesting problems most of which come from the question of evaluation of definite integrals. As background the applicants must have a solid knowledge of one variable Calculus. Some experience with Discrete Mathematics and Linear Algebra would be helpful but it is not essential. The program will show how computation is used to gain insight and intuition in Mathematics. We will use it to discover new facts, patterns, and relationships. In particular we will show how Analysis, Discrete Mathematics and Computations are just different aspects of the same science: Mathematics. Projects. The first two weeks of the program will be devoted to prepare the students for the most interesting part: the projects. These are mathematical problems for which the instructors and assistants have some ideas on how to solve them, but they are open problems. Our past experience has shown that students will provide unexpected insight into these problems. Here are some examples to show how exciting they could be:

  1. An elementary calculation gives the integral of 1/(x² + 1)m over the positive real line. Express the integral of 1/(x4 + 2ax² + 1)m as a function of the parameters a and m. The result will involve a polynomial of degree m with rational coefficients. The project consists in exploring the factroization of these coefficients as products of primes. Many beautiful patterns will appear, most of them without a traditional proof. The paper "The 2-adic valuation of a sequence arising from a rational integral" can be downloaded from this website.
  2. The Stirling numbers S(n, k) count the number of ways to partition n objects into k non-empty parts. These numbers are integers, because they count something. What can you say about the power of 2 that divides them? The paper "The 2adic valuation of Stirling numbers" present interesting conjectures and beautiful pictures.
  3. The recurrence x[n] = (n + x[n - 1])/(1 - nx[n - 1]) comes from a simple finite sum of values of the arctangent function. Starting at x[0] = 0 you will see that x[n] is an integer for n ≤ 4. We have conjectured that this never happens again. The paper "Arithmetical properties of a sequence arising from an arctangent sum" contains some dynamical systems that needs to be explored.
  4. Why is it that the sums [graphic missing] are easy to evaluate, but the one with the cubes of binomial coefficients does not appear in elementary texts?
  5. After a numerical calculation, you find that the answer to your problem is

    s = 10.56275158164930392825

    What is the real answer? We will learn how to figure out that it has be π2 + ln 2. This is a remarkable new insight: from a numerical approximation, we get the exact answer.

Primary Mathematics Subject Classification No Primary AMS MSC
Secondary Mathematics Subject Classification No Secondary AMS MSC
Schedule, Notes/Handouts & Videos
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Jul 25, 2008
09:00 AM - 09:40 AM
  Structure of p-adic valuations of Stirling numbers
Ana Berrizbeitia (University of Iowa), Alexander Moll (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Laine Noble
10:00 AM - 10:40 AM
  Landen Transformations with cot(3t)
Cindy Enrigue (Long Beach City College), Gerard Koffi, Loraine Torres Castro
11:00 AM - 11:40 AM
  Analysis of the Dynamics of the Landen Transformations Using cot(4t)
Richard Garcia Lebron, Aileen Nguyen, Ivan Ojeda, Bobby Wilson (University of Washington)
01:20 PM - 02:00 PM
  Exploring a Rational Landen Transformation of Degree Eight
Ricela Feliciano-semidei, Marcos Ortiz, Jason Rosenberg, Kevin Wingfield
02:20 PM - 03:00 PM
  Numerical Intergration Techniques with Rational Landen Transformations
Natasha Cayco Gajjic, Nathan Kallus, Jessica Stigile