Invited Speakers

Section NExT Lecture
Frank Ford, Providence College
Keeping Active in Your Section

Abstract and Bio

Although the young faculty member has to research and teach, service is usually part of the requirements for tenure.  A rewarding way to fulfill part of this service requirement is to give time to your section of the MAA.  You get more than you give.

Bio:  Frank Ford has been at Providence College since 1980.  Last year, he was honored with the Distinguished Service award of the Northeastern Section of the MAA. He has been Chair of the Section, web master for the Section and is still Newsletter Editor.  He has hosted the MAA at PC three times, hosted the CCSCNE regional meeting twice, was department chair for 13 years, Secretary of the Faculty Senate for 13 years and President of the Faculty Senate for four years.  He is happy to say that during his time as Section Chair, he helped establish the Battles Lecture to honor his predecessor as Newsletter Editor. 

Timothy Woodcock, Stonehill College
Double Counting: The Fundamental Principle of Combinatorics

Abstract and Bio

In this talk, we shall examine the power of double counting as a tool for developing summation identities. For instance, we shall see that the formula
may be realized via simple combinatorial interpretation. More generally we will investigate the reduction of
where m is an arbitrary positive integer. We will also take up sums having the form

Timothy Woodcock is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics at Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. He is also alumnus of Stonehill College, graduating in 1993, and holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Virginia. He lives in Sutton, Massachusetts, with his wife and two children.

Oliver Knill,Harvard University
About Some Differential Geometric Problems in Graph Theory

Abstract and Bio

Results like Green-Stokes, Gauss-Bonnet, Poincare-Hopf or Lefschetz-Brouwer have discrete counter parts in graph theory which are surprisingly easy to formulate and prove. As I myself learned from puzzle collection books like Gardner's books and columns, as well as by my teachers in college, it is in general possible to take virtually any known result or open problem in the continuum and look for discrete analogs. Puzzle and recreational mathematics fans know that this leads to a treasure trove of problems in the discrete which can be explored also experimentally and without much technique.  Similar to many puzzle problems collected and maintained by editors honored in this meeting, these "elementary" problems are accessible by a larger audience. While open problems are the motor which drives new mathematics, simple open problems can spark the interest of young mathematicians. I myself got hooked on mathematics because of problem columns in journals for the more general public. In this talk the theme is illustrated with mostly unexplored curvature, coloring, complexity, variational and spectral problems for graphs.

Bio:  Oliver Knill got his BA and PhD in mathematics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland. Since 2000, he has been a preceptor in the mathematics department at Harvard. Prior to coming to Harvard, Knill taught for three years at Caltech in Pasadena, for one year at the University of Arizona in Tucson, and spent three years in Austin on a research fellowship at the University of Texas. Knill started his research in the field of dynamical systems and spectral theory, but more recently it has shifted to applications of dynamical system theory to probability theory, analysis, geometry, computer vision and graph theory. In mathematics education, Knill's focus is on the use of technology for teaching and learning.

Banquet Speaker
Tanya Khovanova, MIT
Freelance Mathematician, Blogger
Manhole Covers and Complex Geometry

Abstract and Bio

Why are manhole covers round? Bring your answer to this famous interview question. We will use manhole covers as a starting point to discuss some modern research in convex geometry.

Bio: Tanya Khovanova is a research affiliate at MIT and a freelance mathematician. She coaches AMSA Charter school students for math competitions and coordinates math research for RSI and PRIMES programs at MIT. Tanya received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Moscow State University in 1988. At that time her research interests were in representation theory, integrable systems, super-string theory and quantum groups. Her research was interrupted by a period of employment in industry, where she became interested in algorithms, complexity theory, cryptography and networks. Several years ago she resigned from industry to return to research. Her current interests lie in combinatorics, number theory, probability theory and recreational mathematics. Her website is located at, her highly popular math blog at and her Number Gossip website at

Distinguished Teacher Lecture
Margaret Robinson, Mount Holyoke College
Counting fixed points of the discrete exponential function modulo powers of a prime

Abstract and Bio

In this talk, I will focus on counting solutions to equations modulo powers of a prime number. For several polynomials, we will consider these cardinalities and show they fit together to form a generating function.   I also hope to talk a little about work that Joshua Holden (Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) and I have done to count fixed points of the discrete exponential function modulo powers of a prime. The talk will finish with the tantalizing conjectures surrounding these generating functions and how they relate to local zeta functions.

Bio:  Margaret Robinson has been teaching at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts since 1987. Her undergraduate degree was from Bowdoin College (1979) in Mathematics and German and both her MA and PhD are from Johns Hopkins University (1986). Her research area is in number theory. She gave an undergraduate course on zeta functions at the IAS Women's Program and has taught for two summers at Carleton College's Summer Math Program (SMP) for sophomore women in mathematics. She has also supervised 7 summer research groups in Mount Holyoke's Summer REU program. Last June she was very honored to be awarded the NES MAA award for Distinguished Teaching.

Christie Lecture
Clayton Dodge, University of Maine
Professor Emeritus
Reflections of an old problems editor

Abstract and Bio

Some interesting problems and experiences I have seen during my life as a problemist and afterwards, too.

Bio:  Clayton W. Dodge is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Maine. In 2001 he received the C. C. MacDuffee Award for Distinguished Service to Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society. He had served as the problem department editor of their journal for 20 years. His editing work started with assisting Howard Eves in the American Mathematical Monthly’s Elementary Problem Department. He has written six textbooks, including Euclidean Geometry and Transformations (Dover, 2004). In 1995 the MAA bestowed on Clayton the Howard Eves award for his outstanding contributions to the Northeastern Section. His mathematical interests include geometry, problems, teacher education, and number theory. Since retirement he has helped build houses for the local chapter of Habitat for Humanity and has served on its board of directors. Currently he is a Maine Troop Greeter at the Bangor airport and the collector for his local church.

Panel Discussion
Problems, Problems, Everywhere
Dr. Pat Costello, Eastern Kentucky University
Dr. Harold Reiter, University of North Carolina at Charlotte
Dr. Derek Smith, Lafayette College

Abstract and Bio

What is it like to be an editor for the Problem Section of a mathematics journal? Who are these generally unsung heroes who keep these sections going? Exactly how burdensome is it? Are they universalists? Have they been inspired by some problem submissions in their own mathematical endeavors?  Come hear our experts, all current editors of journals aimed at undergraduates, and join in the discussion!

Dr. Pat Costello:
Pat Costello received his BS from Harvey Mudd and his PhD in quadratic forms from Ohio State. He has been teaching mathematics and computer science at Eastern Kentucky University for many years. He is active in Kappa Mu Epsilon, a national mathematics honor society. He is the problem editor of this society’s journal, The Pentagon, and received the George R. Mach Distinguished Service Award at the Kappa Mu Epsilon national convention in 2011. He also received the 2008 Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics by the Kentucky Section of the MAA.
Dr. Harold Reiter: Harold Reiter is a professor of mathematics at UNC Charlotte. With his daughter, Ashley Ahlin, he edits the problems section of the Pi Mu Epsilon journal.
This October Harold was named the University of North Carolina system winner of the faculty service award for more than forty years of community service including the founding of two math circles and a teachers circle.
Dr. Derek Smith: Derek Smith is a professor of mathematics at Lafayette College (PA). He edits the problem department The Playground of the MAA journal Math Horizons and is co-author (with John Horton Conway) of the book On Quaternions and Octonions.In 2003, he received the Jones Faculty Lecture Award for Excellence in Teaching and Scholarship from Lafayette College. He also was awarded Lafayette's Marquis Distinguished Teaching Award in 2010.