Dr. Karen Saxe, American Mathematical Society
Photo of opening speaker Karen Saxe

Gerrymandering and a redistricting outlook for 2020

Every ten years each state redraws its congressional district maps. Many map-makers are accused of partisan gerrymandering, and these challenges have been gaining traction in our courts, including in the Supreme Court. This talk will give background on how redistricting is done by the states, an update on how mathematics and statistics is being called on by the courts in their deliberations, and what changes to look for when the states start drawing in 2020.

Karen Saxe is Director of Government Relations for the American Mathematical Society. She works in Washington DC to connect the mathematics community with decision-makers who impact scientific research and education. She is also DeWitt Wallace Professor of Mathematics, Emerita at Macalester College in St Paul, MN. She has been awarded a Distinguished Teaching Award by the Mathematical Association of America, the Macalester College Excellence in Teaching Award, and honorary doctorates from Bard College and Macalester College. She has long been active with policy and advocacy activities for both the Mathematical Association of America and the Association for Women in Mathematics. 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. As the 2020 Census approaches, her consulting work has expanded to other states. She also serves on the Advisory Board for Transforming Post-Secondary Education in Mathematics (TPSE Math), an initiative sponsored by Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, aiming to effect constructive change in mathematics education at community colleges, 4-year colleges and research universities. 

Dr. Dave Richeson, Dickinson College
Photo of closing speaker Dave Richeson

Tales of Impossibility

"Nothing is impossible!" It is comforting to believe this greeting card sentiment; it is the American dream. Yet there are impossible things, and it is possible to prove that they are so. In this talk we will look at some of the most famous impossibility theorems—the so-called "problems of antiquity." The ancient Greek geometers and future generations of mathematicians tried and failed to square circles, trisect angles, double cubes, and construct regular polygons using only a compass and straightedge. It took two thousand years to prove conclusively that all four of these are mathematically impossible.

David Richeson was an undergraduate at Hamilton College, received his PhD at Northwestern University, and had a post-doc at Michigan State University. He is now a professor of mathematics at Dickinson College and the editor of Math Horizons, the undergraduate magazine of the Mathematical Association of America. He is interested in a wide range of mathematics including topology, dynamical systems, the history of mathematics, recreational mathematics, and expository mathematical writing. His 2008 book Euler's Gem: The Polyhedron Formula and the Birth of Topology received the MAA's Euler Book Prize and was just rereleased this summer in the Princeton Science Library Series. His new book, Tales of Impossibility: The 2000-Year Quest to Solve the Mathematical Problems of Antiquity will be published by Princeton University Press on October 8. 

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