Macalester’s Department of Mathematics and Computer Science is host to the MSCS 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.

MSCS and Society Lecture, 2019-20

Moon Duchin, Tufts University,
Karen Saxe, American Mathematical Society
Monday, October 7, 2019, 4:40pm-5:40pm
John B. Davis Lecture Hall
Ruth Stricker Dayton Campus Center

Mathematical Interventions in Fair Voting 

On one level, redistricting is “just a math problem” — how to divide up population into districts in a way that secures a desired kind of result. But there are many other levels as well: politics, racial fairness, community structure, and so on. We will take a look at data-intensive interventions in the study of gerrymandering, and try to convince you of the ways that redistricting both is, and is not, a math problem

Moon Duchin is an Associate Professor of Mathematics Tufts University where she is director of the interdisciplinary program in Science, Technology, and Society and faculty in the Department of Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora Studies. Trained in geometry, topology, group theory, and dynamical systems, her current research is in the study of electoral redistricting in the U.S., using randomized algorithms to understand relationships between community, partisanship, race, and representation. She runs the MGGG Redistricting Lab at Tufts, which engages in research, consulting, and outreach around gerrymandering and reform efforts.

Karen Saxe is Director of Government Relations for the American Mathematical Society. She is also DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics, Emerita at Macalester. She has been awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award by the Mathematical Association of America and the Macalester College Excellence in Teaching Award. Karen has been a resource in Minnesota on redistricting, consulting with city governments, is currently part of the Common Cause Redistricting Leadership Circle, and served on the Minnesota Citizens’ Redistricting Commission, created to draw congressional districts following the 2010 census.

past speakers

Year Speaker Affiliation Title
2018-19 Brent Hecht Northwestern University

Title: The Origins, Present, and Future of Algorithmic Bias

2017-18 Tim Chartier Davidson College Putting a Spring in Yoda’s Step
2016-17 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