Pi Moments(*)

The eleventh annual FAU Math Day held on what was the Pi Day of the century, Saturday, March 14, 2015, on the Boca Raton campus of Florida Atlantic University, was once again a success. There were a few complaints; the font used in the power point projection was a bit too small and hard to read from the back rows. We will make sure that that never happens again and we apologize to the people sitting in the back. There were also some complaints about the problems being too hard. We try to have something for everybody and we will try harder in the future to have a better mix, but the absolutely worst thing we could do is to make the problems too easy. The winner of the morning competition did score 100% and there were a few others above 90%. Detailed solutions to all problems are now posted.

Apart from all this, everybody seems to have had a very good time. The morning competition was interrupted for a few seconds at 9:26 and everybody cheered for the many digits of Pi in action. An interesting fact is that if time were continuous (which quantum theory does not quite allow) then sometime between 9:26 and 9:27 ALL the digits of Pi would be displayed. Our keynote speaker, Professor Colin Adams, the Thomas T. Read Professor of Mathematics at Williams College (aka Sir Randolph Bacon III, aka Mel Slugbate) gave a performance that will be very hard to equal by future speakers. He took us through a harrowing sailing experience in which a great white shark and the storm of the millenium imperiled his life, and yet thanks to Knot Theory, he managed to escape unscathed. In addition to the posted prizes, winners of the morning competition were given signed copies of Professor Adams book on knots.

We thank Professor Adams for his key participation in our event. Thanks also to our own Professors Nowak (Andrzej and Kasia Winkowska), for their presentation for teachers and sponsors and to the FAU students, both undergraduate and graduate, who helped with the heavy lifting and wherever else something needed to be done. Thanks also to Dean Ivy of the C.E. Schmidt College of Science and to Ms. Elke Bojes, District Manager for the Boca Raton area of Wells Fargo, for handing out the awards. But above all, we want to thank the teachers and high school (and middle school) students who attended our day. Thanks also the American Mathematical Society for a number of promotional prizes.

For questions or suggestions, send your e-mails to faumathday@fau.edu or call Dr. Tomas Schonbek at (561) 297-3355. Suggestions from teachers, especially from those who attended previous Math Days, are particularly welcome.

About FAU. Florida Atlantic University serves over 22,000 undergraduates, and 5,000 graduate and professional students in a rapidly expanding urban environment with a main campus located three miles from the Atlantic Ocean, on an 850-acre site in Boca Raton. The department of mathematical sciences offers the degrees BA, BS, MS, MS in Applied Mathematics and Statistics, MS in Teaching, and PhD in Mathematics. There are 35 faculty members in the department, most of them actively engaged in research in areas that range from the purely classical to cutting edge applications in biomathematics and communications security. Students graduating from the department have the option of pursuing careers in teaching, in industry, or continue their mathematical education by enrolling in a graduate program, either at FAU or elsewhere. For qualified students, the department offers a combined BS-MS program.


Math Day 2015 is made possible through the very generous underwriting sponsorship of Wells Fargo Bank.

We also thank I>Clicker for generously lending us remotes for the afternoon team competition, and Publix Super Market Charities for their sponsorship. Math Day is organized by Tomas Schonbek, Emily Cimillo, and Helen Randall. However, it would not be possible without the enthusiastic and indispensable support received from the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, the Center for Cryptology and Information Security, the staff, faculty, and students of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and last, but definitely not least, from all the hard working high school mathematics teachers in Broward, Palm Beach, Dade, and Martin counties.


(*) ``Pi Moments'' is a series of vignettes about π and about people who made important contributions to what we know of it. Clicking on the image opens a larger, occasionally an expanded, pdf version on another page. Most of the information comes from the excellent MacTutor website at http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/, a history of mathematics site created and maintained by two professors of St. Andrews University in Scotland.