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Professor Benson Farb’s public talk was on April 23.

The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Department of Mathematics has launched more opportunities and events for students that expose them to diverse mathematical concepts, foster critical thinking skills and encourage active participation in the mathematical community.

Distinguished lecture series

people sitting in a large auditorium

The math department hosted Professor Benson Farb, a distinguished mathematician specializing in geometry from the University of Chicago. Farb’s research focuses around geometric group theory, low-dimensional topology, algebraic geometry, representation theory and the study of moduli spaces. These topics are relevant in real-world applications, including physical phenomena such as motion, electricity and fluid dynamics, modeling the motion of robotic arms or the trajectory of autonomous vehicles, creating computer-aided designs for objects, and more.

Farb conducted a trio of lectures and worked directly with students and faculty over the course of a week in April. Farb’s visit was highlighted by a public lecture on the orientation and the fourth dimension on April 23. He highlighted how dimension and notions of left- and right-handedness have applications in physics, engineering, aeronautics, and pharmaceuticals, and explained how to visualize interactions in higher dimensions.

“We are very grateful to Benson Farb for sharing his perspective on the beauty and power of mathematics with our community,” said Department of Mathematics Chair Rufus Willett. “Professor Farb also discussed the practicalities of creating new mathematics with our graduate students and undergraduates, and injected a great deal of enthusiasm into our department.”

“Visiting the math department at UH Mānoa was a wonderful experience, both socially and intellectually,” Farb said. “I found out about a lot of exciting mathematics from both professors and graduate students, for example the discovery of an amazing fractal pattern in a completely unexpected, algebraic place. I also got a really positive vibe from the supportive atmosphere in the department, especially amongst the graduate students. It was also a particular pleasure to see the flourishing group around my former PhD student Asaf Hadari, an associate professor in the department.”

The Department of Mathematics has a goal of making this distinguished lecture series a yearly event.

Math Jam

The department hosted “Math Jam” on May 2, bringing together hundreds of mathematics students across several different courses for a large study session to prepare for final exams. What started as a study session by a graduate assistant for one math course several years ago has grown into a massive event, due to the efforts of Temporary Assistant Professor Sébastien Bertrand and Precalculus Coordinator John Robertson.

“While the first goal of Math Jam is to help our students succeed in their final exams, we are also creating a sense of community, a possibility of meeting new people and a safe space to learn more about mathematics,” Bertrand said. “For STEM students, mathematics is a core language with which it is possible to describe nature and make logical conclusions, so by helping our future UH Mānoa graduates be even stronger, they may shine brighter in their future careers and represent the values of UH.”

Bertrand and Robertson would like to thank everyone who helped make Math Jam a success.

The Department of Mathematics is housed in UH Mānoa’s College of Natural Sciences.

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