Mathematics & Statistics Seminars
Northern Arizona University


The “Friday Afternoon Mathematics Undergraduate Seminar” (FAMUS) is a weekly event consisting of announcements, talks, and faculty interviews. FAMUS takes place most Fridays at 3:00-4:00pm in Room 164 of the Adel Mathematics Building. Typically the first half of FAMUS consists of a talk on a mathematical topic while an interview of a faculty member takes place in the second half. FAMUS is hosted by Jeff Rushall.

Come join us for some entertaining talks! Refreshments always served.

Schedule Fall 2023

Note that talks are listed in reverse chronological order.

Grad School in Mathematics or Statistics or Mathematics Education?

Date: Friday, December 1

Speaker: Angie Hodge-Zickerman (NAU)

Abstract: The talk this week is about graduate school opportunities in our department and is given by Angie Hodge-Zickerman. She will advertise our programs and explain how and why grad school is a really good option for many students.

After the talk we will eat FREE PIZZA and hear testimonials from some current and former grad students. [PDF of Flyer]

An Aperiodic Monotile

Date: Friday, November 17

Speaker: Jeff Rushall (NAU)

Abstract: I will talk about plane tilings and focus on the amazing monotile that aperiodically tiles the plane. It was only “found” last November, and the story behind how it was found is kind of interesting.

After the talk, the audience will play with that monotile to see how it covers the plane using a neat online program - so if you come, try to bring a laptop! [PDF of Flyer]

Data Science in a Regulated Clinical Environment: Changing Acceptability Standards at the FDA

Date: Friday, November 3

Speaker: Derek Sonderegger (Gore employee)

Abstract: The US Food and Drug Administration has historically been extremely risk averse and slow to accept new statistical methodology and tools. First we’ll discuss the FDA’s current stance on open-source tools and particularly R packages developed by a consortium of large pharmaceutical companies. Second, we’ll look at a few resampling-base methodologies (win-ratio and sample size re-estimation) that require simulation results to be submitted to the FDA for trial design approval.

After the talk, we will have an open Q&A with Dr. Sonderegger. [PDF of Flyer]

My Ten Favorite Numbers

Date: Friday, October 27

Speaker: Ian Williams (NAU)

Abstract: In this presentation Ian discuss and justify his reasons for having, umm, 10 favorite numbers. Expect hilarity and controversy.

The faculty guest is also Ian Williams. But fear not: he will not interview himself. [PDF of Flyer]

An Introduction to Sylver Coinage

Date: Friday, October 20

Speaker: Jeff Rushall (NAU)

Abstract: Sylver Coinage is a 2-player game invented by John Conway in the 1970s. The game is played on the natural numbers: the two players take turns naming integers greater than 1 that are not the sum of nonnegative multiples of previously named integers. The player who is forced to choose 1 loses. The game is mysterious because very little is known about achieving and maintaining winning strategies. I’ll give an overview of the game and then let audience members play the game.

The faculty guest is Matt Fahy. [PDF of Flyer]

Map coloring, high school geometry, and mathematical anomalies such as Michigan

Date: Friday, October 13

Speaker: Tyler Brock (NAU)

Abstract: Using only four colors, can you color a map of the United States such that no states that share a border are the same color? Sure, if you’re careful and have some free time. But…what if…THE WHOLE COUNTRY WAS MADE UP OF STATES LIKE MICHIGAN? Come find out! Additionally, I find myself constantly asking “How could we make high school math more fun and more enriching for students?” So, I’d also like to explore some neat connections between high school geometry and graph theory in an effort to minimize teenage disdain for mathematics.

The faculty guest is David Deville. [PDF of Flyer]

TikTok Math: Famous Math Blunders

Date: Friday, October 6

Speaker: Jeff Rushall (NAU)

Abstract: I saw some TikToks recently about “math mistakes.” Nearly all of them focused on math errors that math students make in math classes. But there are many big math errors that have been made by famous mathematicians! I thought a talk on mistakes made by experts could be entertaining. So this talk is a little math history together with some big math mistakes made by some big-time mathematicians.

The faculty guest is Hannah Prawzinsky. [PDF of Flyer]

TikTok Math: Fraction Fun

Date: Friday, September 29

Speaker: Jeff Rushall (NAU)

Abstract: I saw some TikToks recently about fraction rules: why they are good, why they are bad, why they lead to incorrect algorithms for adding fractions, etc. I’ll show some of these TikToks, and then explain how one of the incorrect addition algorithms (mediant addition of fractions) leads to some very neat math, namely the wonderful world of the Farey fractions.

The faculty guest is Tyler Brock. [PDF of Flyer]

TikTok Math: Paper Folding

Date: Friday, September 22

Speaker: Jeff Rushall (NAU)

Abstract: I saw a TikTok recently about paper folding, specifically, about how many times you need to fold a sheet of paper to make a stack tall enough to reach the moon. I’ll show the TikTok, explain why the scenario is sort of silly via another TikTok, explain the world record of paper folding via yet another TikTok, and then talk about cool math associated with paper folding.

The faculty guest is Sarah Watson. [PDF of Flyer]