Macalester’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is host to the Mathematics and Society Speaker Series, the purpose of which is to enhance classroom learning in mathematics or computer science through lectures by people prominent in these fields.

These talks are free and open to the public. Neighbors of the college, students at local colleges, and high school students are especially encouraged to attend.

The series was established in January 2001 and is made possible through the generous financial support of Macalester alumnus Kurt Winkelmann ’78.

Mathematics and Society Lecture, 2017-18

Tim Chartier
Davidson College
Wednesday, September 27, 4:40pm-5:40pm
John B. Davis Lecture Hall
Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center

Putting a Spring in Yoda’s Step

ABSTRACT: When the character Yoda first appeared on the silver screen, his movements were due to the efforts of famed muppeteer Frank Oz. In Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, Yoda returned to the movies but this time the character was not a puppet but a digital image within a computer. This talk will discuss the role, or more aptly the force, of mathematics behind a few aspects of movie special effects. Armed with differential equations, animators can create a believable flow to Yoda’s robe or a convincing digital stunt person. (See the following link for related images and resources).

BIOGRAPHY: Professor Chartier is an applied mathematician with a focus in numerical methods and computer science. He frequently works in data analytics with a specialty in sports analytics. He has worked with the NBA, ESPN, and NASCAR. He has also collaborated with Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Labs to improve numerical simulations on their lab’s supercomputers. He is the recipient of many research and writing prizes, including a Sloan Research Fellowship. He is the recipient of the MAA’s national teaching award, and he has worked with Google and Pixar on educational initiatives.  Professor Chartier is the author of several books: Numerical Methods: Design, Analysis, and Computer Implementation of Algorithms with Anne Greenbaum; Math Bytes: Google Bombs, Chocolate-Covered Pi, and Other Cool Bits in Computing, which was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Title; and When Life is Linear: From Computer Graphics to Bracketology, published by the Mathematical Association of America, which won the Beckenbach Book Prize as a distinguished, innovative book.

past speakers





2017-17 Kristin Lauter Microsoft Research How to Keep Your Genome Secret
2015-16 George Hart Stony Brook University From Mathematics to Sculpture
2014-15 Peko Hosoi MIT From Razor Clams to Robots: The Mathematics Behind Biologically Inspired Design
2013-14 Louis J Gross University of Tennessee “Best” in a Biological Context: Optimization Across the Biological Hierarchy
2012-13 Bill Cook Georgia Tech The Traveling Salesman Problem: A Blueprint for Optimization
2011-12 David Kung St. Mary’s College of Maryland How Math Made Modern Music Mad Irrational
2010-11 Edward Belbruno NASA Research Associate &
Professor at Princeton University
Low Energy Pathways in Space, Chaos, and Origin of the Moon
2009-10 Jeff Weeks Geometry Games The Shape of Space
2008-09 Ann Watkins California State University,
Fallacies in Elementary Statistics
2007-08 Bart de Smit Leiden University
The Netherlands
M.C. Escher and the Droste Effect
2006-07 Peter Hamburger Western Kentucky University The Art of Venn Diagrams
2005-06 Doris Schattschneider Moravian College  
2004-05 Helmer Aslaksen National University of Singapore The Mathematics of the Chinese, Indian, Islamic and Gregorian Calendars
2003-04 Herb Wilf University of Pennsylvania  
2002-03 Gil Strang MIT
2001-02 Tom Banchoff Brown University  
2000-01 George Andrews Penn State