2021/2022 Events

Summary report for the 2021/2022 school year

Math Circles 2021/2022 Year End Summary Report

Math Circles events at Dal during the 2021/2022 school year

Below is our schedule of past events at Dalhousie for the 2021/2022 school year.

September 22, 6 - 7:15pm. In-person (limited) and online!
Speaker: Dr. Asmita Sodhi (Dalhousie)

Topic: How to Count Votes

Abstract: This sounds like it should be easy—we just ask people who or what they want to vote for, count the votes, and see which option has the most… right? This is one way of counting votes, but this way can leave a lot of people unsatisfied with the winner. There are lots of other ways of voting and counting votes, some of which we'll see in this talk. We'll explore some voting systems, voting paradoxes, and also have a little election of our own!


October 27, 6 - 7:15pm. In-person and online!
Speaker: Jonathan Tot (Dalhousie)

Topic: Mr. Collatz's Marvellous Mathematical Machine

Abstract: We will present the infamous Collatz Conjecture, an unsolved mathematical problem that has perplexed some of the brightest mathematicians in recent decades. Paul Erdos said “Mathematics may not be ready for such problems.” But fear not! The problem is very simple to state; at the core only basic arithmetic on whole numbers is needed, so that the problem could likely be understood by keen grade-schoolers. But the unfolding of the problem leads to very deep questions about the nature of numbers, as well as mesmerizing visuals and endless fun! It all starts with Dr. Collatz's peculiar mathematical operation.


November 24
Speaker: Tom Potter (Dalhousie)

Topic: Tessellations and Symmetry

Abstract: Tessellations are important mathematical objects of intrinsic and immediate beauty. We discuss the basics of tessellations of the plane, count the basic types, and play a fun game to illustrate the difficulties involved in trying to name them. We also see some more unusual tessellations, known as aperiodic tilings, and wrap up by looking at instances of tessellations in design, art, and nature. You will need a pencil, paper, and eraser (colours optional).


December 8
Speaker: Tom Potter (Dalhousie)

Topic: Awesome Algebra and Devious Divisibility

Abstract: Algebra is one of the oldest expressions of mathematics, dating back to the ancient Babylonians, and developed as a subject in its own right by mathematicians like Diophantus and Al-Khwarizmi. Algebra can be considered as the study of mathematical symbols and rules for manipulating these symbols, and this is often understood in the context of equations.

In this presentation we explore some fun number tricks and use algebra to illuminate the mathematics behind these tricks. We also do some number theory, particularly some interesting tricks to determine when a number is divisible by various familiar small numbers. We also get a brief glimpse of modular arithmetic, which will illustrate how algebra can be used to answer questions about numbers. Bring pencil and paper!


January 26:
Speaker: Scott Wesley (Dalhousie)

Topic: Similar Shapes and Topological Magic

Abstract: Shapes are all around us. In school, we learn to tell apart different shapes based on their geometric properties. However, we spend little time thinking about the properties that shapes have in common. For example, a circle and a square are not very different if we are allowed to bend the sides! This is known as a topological property, rather than a geometric property. In this monthly event, we will learn about topological properties and how they can be used to solve puzzles. We will also witness some topological magic, such as how to turn a donut into a coffee cup and how to turn a ball inside-out!


February 23:
Speaker: Dr. Asmita Sodhi (Dalhousie)

Topic: Alice’s Adventures in Numberland

Abstract: Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was an Oxford mathematician and the author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. This children’s classic is full of the riddles, rhymes, and nonsense that Dodgson loved so much, but also more math (and more sense!) than you may have realized when you first encountered this story. Together we’ll take a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole and through Wonderland, discovering some of the mathematics hidden there along the way.


March 30:
Speaker: Dr. Frank Fu (Dalhousie)

Topic: Fun with Cryptography

Abstract: How do we communicate through the internet without being eavesdropped? How can we login to a remote computer without using a password? How does the remote computer know it is really me? In this talk, we will learn a few cryptographic concepts and encryption methods. Hopefully, by the end of the talk, we gain some insights into how modern cryptography is safegarding the digital world.


April 27 (This event is Online Only)
Speakers: Dr. Danielle Cox and Dr. Karyn McLellan (MSVU)

Topic: The Fibonacci Numbers

Abstract: In this talk students discover the relationship between the Golden Ratio and Fibonacci numbers. We also learn why the Golden Ratio is found throughout nature and listen to Fibonacci number inspired music.


May 25 (This event is Online Only)
Speaker: Fred Gluck

Topic: Buried treasure or hoax? You decide!

Abstract: A little more than 200 years ago, a man named Thomas Jefferson Beale left Virginia to seek his fortune out west. Sometime later he returned and left information in a box with an innkeeper. Years later, when the box was opened, three documents with numbers that appeared to be encryptions were found. Eventually someone decoded one of the codes, which proclaimed that thousands of pounds of gold, silver, and precious gems, are buried somewhere in Virginia. The decoded note stated that directions to the buried treasure are contained in one of the other notes. However, despite the many attempts to decode both of the other documents, no one has succeeded. Some think it’s all an elaborate hoax. Some are certain the treasure exists. Come to this session to hear more of the details of the story, examine the codes, and decide for yourself. Will you dismiss it all as a hoax, or are you ready to pick up your shovel and start digging?

The foundation of encryption is all about prime numbers and divisibility. This session will explore some simple methods for determining divisibility — some tips, tricks, and techniques. Many of the techniques can be done easily mentally. For others, paper and pencil help. So bring those simple supplies. No need for calculators! The arithmetic will not be taxing. Besides, you probably can use the mental math practice, right?


June 15, 6pm - 7:15pm Atlantic time (In-person or Online)
Speaker: Dr. Hector Baños Cervantes (Dalhousie)

Topic: Mathematics and DNA

Abstract: DNA is found in every cell of every living thing. It carries all of the instructions for an organism to build, maintain and repair itself. DNA molecules allow this information to be passed from one generation to the next. In this interactive seminar, we will explore some of the mathematics used to model some problems relating to DNA and some of its applications. We briefly discuss topics from how DNA is used to uncover the evolutionary relationships between species to how DNA could be used to store music, videos, and other files.


Topic Ideas?

If you have a request for topics, please contact us. If you have a topic or idea that appeals to you, let us help you explore it! Email our team at mathcircles@dal.ca and we will work it into our repertoire.



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