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, 2022-23

Federico Ardila-Mantilla, Ph.D.
Monday, November 7, 2022, 4:40pm-6:00pm
John B. Davis Lecture Hall

Geometry, Robots, and Society

How do we move a robot efficiently from one position to another? To answer this question, we understand the map of all possible positions of the robot, using techniques from geometry and combinatorics. We also face important ethical questions that we cannot ignore: What’s the role of mathematicians and computer scientists in building a more just and equitable society?

Federico Ardila-Mantilla is a Colombian-American mathematician and musician who works in combinatorics and its connections to other areas of mathematics and applications. He strives to build joyful, empowering, and equitable mathematical spaces where everyone feels welcome.

He received his Ph.D. from MIT in 2003 and is Professor of Mathematics at San Francisco State University since 2005. He is a winner of the National Science Foundation CAREER Award for research, the Mathematical Association of America’s National Haimo Award for Teaching, and the American Mathematical Society’s “Mathematics Programs that Make a Difference” Award
for service. He is also a Fellow of the American Mathematical Society and the Colombian Academy of Science, and an Invited Speaker at the International Congress of Mathematicians.

past speakers

Year Speaker Affiliation Title
2021-22 Michael Osterholm University of Minnesota

A Conversation on Data and the Pandemic

2019-20 Moon Duchin
Karen Saxe
Tufts University
American Mathematical Society

Title: Mathematical Interventions in Fair Voting

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