MathFest in Madison, Rudins honored

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MathFest, the annual summer meeting of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), was held in Madison on August 2-4, 2001. The meeting, held in the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center on the shores of Lake Monona, set a new attendance record. Attendees were so delighted with Madison and the facilities (and facilities used in Van Vleck Hall), that there is talk of a return in a few years. [Just announced, MathFest returns to Madison in 2007.] The meeting featured the Hedrick Lectures by Ingrid Daubechies of Princeton University on wavelets, and an invited address by Michael Starbird [PhD 1974, M. E. Rudin] on ``The other lessons: What students keep for life'' of the University of Texas. Also featured was an invited address by Frank Morgan of Williams College on the proof of the double bubble conjecture. Frank brought many undergraduate students from Williams College; thanks to the initiative of Charlotte Chell [PhD 1969, J. B. Rosser], Frank and his students appeared on a live broadcast of Michael Feldman's show on National Public Radio (NPR). According to Ed Burger who was chair of the Program Committee ``everyone was talking about the main lectures and the attendance at the lectures themselves was dramatically high.'' Two graduate students, Berit Givens and Andy Raich, volunteered to help out at the registration desk and were a big success with the MAA.

The annual MAA 25-year banquet was held on August 4, 2001 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison. It included several events of Wisconsin note. There was a ceremony honoring Mary Ellen Rudin and Walter Rudin for ``their long, outstanding, and distinguished service to mathematics'' (the same can be said of their service (still continuing!) to UW-Madison). Mary Ellen was introduced by former student Mike Starbird; Walter was introduced by Len Gillman who said he first met Walter in 1950. A glass sculpture by Wisconsin artist Audrey Handler was presented to the Rudins by Richard Askey, who was also honored at the banquet for being a 50-year member of the MAA and for his efforts in promoting mathematics and mathematics education throughout Wisconsin. As the then Governor of the Wisconsin MAA section, Fred Tufte, said, Dick has probably given talks at every undergraduate institution in Wisconsin (and there are many!). Others recognized for being MAA members for 25 or more years were: Mary Ellen Rudin (49), Walter Rudin (46), Hans Schneider (45), Robert L. Wilson [PhD 1947, C.C. MacDuffee] (41), Melinda Certain [PhD 1974, R. Askey] (40), Charlotte Chell (39), Michael Bleicher (37), Sylvia Wiegand [PhD 1971, L. Levy] (29), and Michael Starbird [PhD 1974, M. E. Rudin] (26).

At the 25 year dinner, Sylvia Wiegand (nee Young) gave a talk on the mathematical heritage of Grace Chisholm Young (1868-1944) and William Henry Young (1863-1942). Grace Young was the first woman to receive a PhD in Germany and one of the first women mathematicians to do a substantial amount of research. Laurence Chisolm Young (1905-2000), who was Professor of Mathematics at Wisconsin from 1948 to 1976, was their son, and Sylvia was the daughter of Laurence Chisholm and Elizabeth Mary Dunnett.

Other social events included a ``real'' Wisconsin Fish Boil. Our traditional ``Wisconsin Reunion'' was held on the 9th floor of Van Vleck Hall the first night of the meeting. As usual this was a lot of fun with so many of our former students in Madison.

The last afternoon of the regular meeting and the day after there was a well-attended short course on Ramanujan's life and legacy, organized by Ken Ono, with Ken, Scott Ahlgren, George Andrews, Richard Askey, and Bruce Berndt as speakers.

Conference on Mathematical Aspects of Orbifold String Theory

This conference, organized by A. Adem, J. Morava and Y. Ruan, was held in Madison in early May 2001. It attracted over 50 world class researchers in mathematical physics and related areas. The main speakers at the conference were Cumrun Vafa (Harvard), Miles Reid (Warwick), Jeff Harvey (U.Chicago), Paul Aspinwall (Duke), Ieke Moerdijk (Utrecht), Lev Borisov (Columbia University) among many others. The conference was supported by an NSF grant and included a lively one hour discussion of ways to promote interactions between math and physics. A proceedings volume will appear in the AMS series Contemporary Mathematics.      by Alejandro Adem

AMS Central Section to meet in Madison

The Central Section of the American Mathematical Society will hold its meeting at UW-Madison on October 12-13, 2002. Invited addresses will be given by Lawrence Ein (University of Illinois, Chicago), Eleny Ionel (UW-Madison), Mikhail Safonov (University of Minnesota), and John Sullivan (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign). Eighteen special sessions are being organized, covering a wide range of topics; as a result, participation in the meeting is expected to be high. Look for details in the AMS Notices.

We hope that this meeting will afford an opportunity for many Wisconsin PhDs and other Wisconsin friends to come back for a visit to Madison and the Mathematics Department here. We always warmly welcome back old friends.