UMass Amherst Joins Other Colleges to Focus on Mathematics and Imaging April 27-May 2

AMHERST, Mass. - The University of Massachusetts will join with other colleges and universities across the nation in marking Mathematics Awareness Week, April 27-May 2.

The University will host a lecture on mathematics and imaging, also the theme of this year''s nationwide observance.

The week is sponsored by the American Mathematical Society, the Mathematical Association of America, and the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics. UMass mathematics and statistics professor Donald Geman will give a lecture on mathematics and imaging on Thurs. April 30 at 4 p.m., in Lederle Graduate Research Tower, room 1634.

His talk will consist of "stories" from diverse fields, including astronomy, medicine, neuroscience, industrial automation, and planetary geology, in each case showing sample images and how mathematics is used. A portion of the lecture will be geared to non-specialists.

Mathematics is an essential element of imaging in fields as diverse as medicine, computer science, and criminal investigations, according to mathematics professor Ed Connors, who is coordinating events at UMass. Advanced mathematical techniques make medical imaging possible, enabling physicians to detect cancerous tumors, and to see a beating heart in motion, Connors says.

Mathematics helps computer experts create three-dimensional computer graphics, and also enables them to compress an entire set of encyclopedias onto a single CD-ROM, he says. Computer data compression also allows electronic storage of the Federal Bureau of Investigation''s vast archive of fingerprint records. In addition, mathematical tools can actually enhance images produced by satellites, medical imaging devices, telescopes, and even amateur video pictures submitted as courtroom evidence, Connors says.

In a separate event earlier this month, 61 UMass sophomores competed in a mathematics competition consisting of a two-hour, 10-problem test. The first-place winner, Steven Williams of Amherst, received a $1,600 award. Second-place finishers Kevin Blanding of Bolton and Joseph Daverin of Billerica each won $700; and three students who received honorable mentions were awarded $100 each. They were: Ryan DuVally of Rehoboth, Kevin Labonte of Acushnet; and Fred Squires of Amherst.

The competition was sponsored by the department of mathematics and statistics, with financial support from the International Charter School in Springfield, and EDS Corp.