Mathematicians in Portlandia

by Roland Minton on August 19, 2014

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Congratulations to Roanoke College mathematics majors Jon Marino and Sam Parsons for winning prizes for their research presentations in Portland, Oregon, on August 8! Their papers on “Integer Compositions Applied to the Probability Analysis of Blackjack” and “Protecting Confidentiality and Scientific Integrity Through Synthetic Data and Mediator Servers,” respectively, were named winners in the Pi Mu Epsilon student talk competition at MathFest, a national meeting of the Mathematical Association of America.

Roanoke College made its mark at MathFest, with four professors and three students attending. Mathematics major Heather Cook gave a well-received talk on “Assessment of Water Quality in the Chesapeake by Parameter Estimation.” This was Heather’s third straight year giving a talk at MathFest, and the seventh straight year a Roanoke College student has presented work.

Jon’s research (integer compositions and blackjack) was his Honors in Mathematics project and was sponsored by Dr. David Taylor. The work explains and extends an interesting pattern that Dave discovered while working on his probability textbook. Sam’s research was her Summer Scholar project, working with Dr. Adam Childers. Her work offers a solution to the dilemma of allowing others to verify analyses of sensitive data without publishing the data. She is a rising senior and plans to continue her research. Heather’s research was also with Dr. Childers, and represents the first of many collaborations between Roanoke College students and the Virginia Institute of Marine Science.

MathFest is an excellent meeting at which students can interact with the mathematics community at large, network with students from around the country, gain invaluable experience presenting and answering questions about their research, and learning that the work they do at Roanoke College is of high quality. Plus, they had a good time!

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