MAA Seaway Section Meeting

The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) Seaway Section Meeting will be on October 18 - 19, 2013 at SUNY Potsdam.

Extended Hotel Reservation Deadline: September 20, 2013 at 12 noon!

Banquet Speaker

  • Tom Hull PhotoThomas Hull, Western New England University
    Title: Origami Math and its Increasing Intersections

    Mathematical studies of origami (paper folding) have been enjoying growing attention over the past 5 years. Computational folding problems have found applications in protein folding, and engineering fields from nanotechnology to solar panels in outer space have turned to origami for assistance.  Such attention had led to a deeper understanding of the various ways in which paper folding can be modeled mathematically.  One surprise has been the sheer number of different branches of math that can be applied to origami.  From geometry to abstract algebra to number theory to combinatorics, origami seems to crimp its way into everything.  What's more, the National Science Foundation and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research have recently found origami valuable enough to fund millions of dollars for studying engineering and math applications of paper folding.  This talk will present a survey of the diverse field that is origami mathematics, with particular attention placed on recent discoveries and new connections.

    Biography: Thomas Hull learned origami at age 8 from a hermit uncle, first glimpsed its connections to math while an undergraduate at Hampshire College, helped develop its theory while in grad school at the University of Rhode Island (where he fooled everyone by getting his Ph.D. in graph theory), taught at Merrimack College for 10 years, and now is located at Western New England University in Springfield, MA.  He is considered a leading expert on origami mathematics as well as an accomplished paper folder.  His PHiZZ unit has infected the fingers of procrastinators world-wide, and his Five Intersecting Tetrahedra model was voted by the British Origami Society as one of the top 10 origami models of all-time.  His book on using origami to teach math, Project Origami (CRC Press), is in its second edition, and he was one of the subjects of a documentary on origami called "Between the Folds."  To see more about his work and folds, visit Tom's webpage.

Saturday Morning Speakers

  • Chris Godsil PhotoChristopher Godsil, University of Waterloo
    Title: Quantum Walks on Graphs

    Abstract: If A is the adjacency matrix of a graph X, then the unitary operators defined by U(t) = exp(-itA) define what physicists call a continuous quantum walk. These can be viewed as a quantum analog of classical continuous walks on graphs. A number of questions of physical interest reduce to questions about the absolute values of entries of U(t). We have found that we can make progress on these questions using standard tools from algebraic graph theory, which in turn depend largely on straightforward linear algebra. My talk will present some of this progress and I will also discuss some graph theoretical questions arising from this work. (No knowledge of physics will be assumed.)

    Biography: Chris Godsil completed a B.Sc. in biochemistry at the University of Melbourne in 1969 and a Ph.D. in Mathematics (again at the University of Melbourne) in 1979. He then spent two years in the Department of Applied Math at the Montanuniversitaet Leoben, followed by five years in the Mathematics Department at Simon Fraser University. In 1987 he moved to the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization at the University of Waterloo, where he is still lodged. He is on the editorial boards of a number of combinatorial journals. In 1992 (with Ian Goulden and David Jackson) he founded the Journal of Algebraic Combinatorics. He has written two textbooks.
  • Aaron LuttmanAaron Luttman, National Security Technologies, LLC
    Title: Quantifying Uncertainty in X-ray Images with National Security Applications

    Abstract:  The United States nuclear weapons program is administered by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), which is a part of the Department of Energy. One of the NNSA's primary responsibilities is "Stockpile Stewardship," which means maintaining the capability of our nuclear weapons without supercritical nuclear testing. This means that we are tasked with understanding thermonuclear reactions without actually setting off any thermonuclear reactions, and one way to do this is by taking X-ray pictures of subcritical tests. Mathematicians have been designing models and numerical methods for extracting quantitative information from X-ray radiographs for decades, but there has been a fundamental shift in recent years towards associating error bars with the calculations from the images; so-called "uncertainty quantification." We will present recent advances in image analysis for X-ray radiography as well as statistical methods for understanding the errors in our calculations and how these measurements – and the mathematical analysis of the collected data – fits into the science and mathematics of national security.

    Biography: Aaron Luttman is a Senior Scientist/Mathematician with National Security Technologies (NSTec), LLC, the U.S. Department of Energy Contractor for the Nevada National Security Site. After working in industry – doing and research and develop of mathematical algorithms in computer vision – Dr. Luttman received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Montana, where his research focused on using partial differential equations for analyzing leaf respiration. He spent the next 6 years as an assistant professor of Mathematics at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, MN, and Clarkson University in Potsdam, NY, before joining NSTec in December 2011. His research centers around designing mathematically rigorous and statistically justified methods for analyzing data and quantifying uncertainties in large physics experiments, and the rest of his life centers around his 2 year old daughter and his soon-to-arrive twins!
  • Kevin Cheung PhotoKevin Cheung, Carleton University, Randolph Lecture
    Title: The Art, Science, and Illusion of Mastery

    Abstract: Being competent in mathematics requires having first mastered certain skills, skills that teachers help their students acquire, whether in a one-to-one setting, in a classroom, or in a MOOC. Given that the acquisition of skills varies depending on the individual, any one-size-fits-all approach can only work some of the time for some individuals. Hence, recent development on various MOOC and online learning platforms aims at providing a customized learning environment. In this presentation, I will briefly discuss the art and science behind attaining mastery. I will also illustrate the role technology can play with some examples.

    Biography: Kevin Cheung is an Associate Professor at Carleton University in the School of Mathematics and Statistics. After completing his Ph.D. at the University of Waterloo in the Department of Combinatorics and Optimization under the supervision of William H. Cunningham in 2003, he spent two years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology as an NSERC Postdoctoral Fellow under the mentorship of Michel X. Goemans.  In addition to discrete optimization, his current academic interests include designing and developing teaching tools and exploiting technology to help students attain mastery.

Saturday Afternoon Workshops

  • Thomas Hull, Western New England University
    Title: Origami Geometry Workshop

    Abstract: We will explore some of the ways in which origami and math feed off each other by getting our hands dirty with paper folding! Time permitting, we will dabble in the realm of modular origami (where multiple pieces of paper are all folded the same way and locked together, sans glue, to make polyhedral forms) and self-similar origami (folded from one piece of paper, but the crease pattern is self-similar!). Paper will be provided.
  • Matt Koetz, Niagara University
    Title: Advising Students for Careers (that Aren't Teaching or Grad School)

    Abstract: A discussion about helping students find careers after graduation if they aren't going into teaching and don't want to go to grad school. Aaron Lutman, from National Security Technologies, and a Seaway NExT alum, will join us. Students are welcome.
  • Blair Madore, SUNY Potsdam
    Title: TBA

    Abstract: TBA


The deadline for pre-registration is October 4, 2013. Participants may register on-site, but will not be eligible for the Friday banquet or Saturday lunch. View Registration Form (PDF).

Contributed Talks Submission

Talks should be 25 minutes in length. Speakers will have a computer projection system available and should bring their slides either on a flash drive or their own laptop computer. Speakers wishing to use Mac computers should be sure to bring the appropriate adapter.

Submission Deadline: September 27, 2013
Contact Marlo Brown -

Student Talks Submission

The fall meeting will feature student talk sessions and a game show competition. Student talks have 15-minute slots, with the option to give a 25-minute talk covering two slots. Students will have a computer projection system available and should bring their slides either on a flash drive or their own laptop computer. Students wishing to use Mac computers should be sure to bring the appropriate adapter.

Submission Deadline: September 27, 2013
Contact David Brown -


Hotel Reservation Deadline: Extended to September 20, 2013 at 12 noon!
A block of rooms is reserved for us under the name “SUNY Potsdam MAA”
Conference rate: $109
Best Western Plus University Inn
90 E Main St, Canton, NY 13617
(315) 386-8522

Contact Information

Section chair: Charles Ragozzine -
Program chair: Ryan Gantner -
Student program chair: David Brown -
Local organizer: Derek Habermas -