By the Numb3rs - Spring 2022

Letter from the Chair

Dear Readers,

The 2021-22 academic year is now in the history books – we made it! We started the semester tentatively, with a couple of weeks of online classes as we waited to see how bad the omicron COVID surge would be. By the end of January, we were back in person, and it wasn’t long after that until many departmental activities were up and running at full tilt; thankfully, we didn’t hit any more major speed bumps, and our semester continued as planned.

This issue of “By the Numbers” surveys a variety of the activities to which we so eagerly returned (or re-returned, after they began this fall). For graduate students, events ranged from advice from Pitt PhD alumni on industry career opportunities to chances to appreciate the contributions of early-career women in mathematics to social events. For undergraduates, the plentiful outside-the-classroom opportunities included educational enrichment via the Undergraduate Math Seminar, mathematical competitions, and faculty-supervised research, celebrated at this year’s MathFest, which even included a student-designed virtual reality video game! Some of our students worked on problems supplied by industry partners, in Dr. Wheeler’s BIG Problems class, and even presented their work at a local Mathematical Association of America meeting.

Our faculty embraced classroom teaching and continued their active pursuit of new mathematical discoveries. This semester we highlight Professor Ming Chen, whose work on the mathematics of water waves has attracted National Science Foundation funding and has advanced our understanding of nonlinear, large-scale wave phenomena – a perfect topic for summer beach season!

I hope that you enjoy reading about all of these activities in this issue of “By the Numbers” as you gear up for your own summer adventures. As always, please do stay in touch, and hail to Pitt!!

Jonathan Rubin, Chair, Department of Mathematics, May 2022