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Letter from the Chair - 2018

May 15, 2018

This year the department began to realize the benefits of the $110 million donation from Bill and Linda Frost to the College of Science and Mathematics. We supported travel to conferences for a record number of undergraduate students, and we can now offer students research stipends during the academic year in addition to the summer. 

We’ve also made undergraduate research colloquia a regular part of our colloquium series. These opportunities have generated so much interest in student-faculty research that I believe we will soon offer such exceptional experiences as a regular part of our undergraduate mathematics program.

Melissa Sunata joined the department as our new administrative assistant during fall quarter, and Kristina Wong took over the administrative coordinator role held previously by Cami Reece, who retired in December. Faculty members Goro Kato and Todor Todorov have also announced their retirements at the end of this academic year. We wish them the best in enjoying the good life.

I’d like to once again thank those who have supported us through donations and gifts. We are grateful for the critical support you provide through your generosity. Your continued interest in helping the department meet its goals is very much appreciated by our students, faculty and staff.

I’ll close on a personal note. This year I began a new role as director of enrollment management. I’ve enjoyed working with a universitywide team to find creative solutions to the challenges surrounding enrollment management. Because my time commitment in this area will increase next year, I will be stepping down as department chair, and Ben Richert will take the helm in winter 2019. 

It has been an honor and pleasure to lead the department for the last six years. I genuinely believe that we have one of the best and most highly respected departments on campus. I have great faith the department will continue to meet current challenges while realizing its aspirations for the future.

Please keep in touch and let us know what you’ve been up to. If you’re on campus, we’d love to see you at the department office.

Joseph Borzellino

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Department Welcomes New Staff

May 12, 2018

Melissa Sunata

Melissa Sunata was born and raised in Southern California and moved to Las Vegas, Nev., to attend University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). After graduating with a degree in secondary education and English, she worked for a non-profit organization developing student leadership programs at UNLV. After 9 years at UNLV, she moved to San Luis Obispo and became a stay-at-home mom to three wonderful children. In 2016, Sunata went back to school at Cal Poly for a master’s degree in educational leadership and administration with a focus on higher education. She graduated in summer 2017 and began working with the Mathematics Department. She enjoys serving students, getting to know staff and faculty, and discovering all that Cal Poly has to offer.

Kristina Wong

Kristina Wong grew up in Alameda, Calif. Shortly after completing her degree in kinesiology with a minor in environmental studies at Cal Poly, she joined the Kinesiology Department as a staff member in 2011. She enjoyed making the transition from student to staff and the opportunity to support student learning experiences — especially those promoting health and wellness in communities — as well as learning the about the intricacies of department and campus operations. After taking an extended leave from Cal Poly during the 2016-17 academic year to take care of her health, she is excited and grateful to be back in the College of Science and Mathematics with the Mathematics Department and to continue to support faculty, staff and students in their endeavors at Cal Poly and beyond.

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Putnam Results

May 12, 2018

The official Cal Poly team of Zoe Cooperband, Sam Lindbloom-Airey and Perry Roeder placed in the top 15 percent at the annual William Lowell Putnam Mathematical Competition, the preeminent undergraduate mathematics competition in the United States and Canada, coming in at exactly 85.5 out of 575 institutions entered in the competition. Lawrence Sze coached the team this year.

The exam scores of the top Cal Poly finishers were: Zoe Cooperband with 18 points, placing 823 out of 4,638 students; Cruz Godar – 17 points, placing 856; Joel Pion – 12 points, placing 1,005; Perry Roeder – 11 points, placing 1,115.5; Sam Lindbloom-Airey, Michael Hehman, and Jason Brown all with 10 points, placing 1,274.5. A perfect score on the exam is 120, and the winning score was 90.
Congratulations to our team and all of our participants.

For full results, visit the Putnam website.

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Students Expand the Frontiers of Mathematics with Faculty Mentors

May 11, 2018

Student researchers and their faculty mentors explored mathematical concepts ranging from quadratic infinite trees to the Game of Life.

Eric Brussel with Patrick Kerrigan

A Simple Continuous Analogue of the ‘Game of Life’

During summer 2017 Eric Brussel and physics major Patrick Kerrigan attempted to construct a simple continuous analogue of the somewhat infamous “Game of Life,” a discrete time and space cellular automaton devised by John Conway. In trying to make the reverse-quantum-leap, there were several difficulties with how to interpret some of the rules of the original game of life, and Kerrigan attempted to put his own twist on some of the things that have already been done by others. Immediately Brussel and Kerrigan were confronted by questions: what sort of metric should be used to determine whether a transition should occur? Indeed, what does a “transition” even look like in this new formulation?

In the end, finding a transition function that allowed for both propagation of “life” and not immediate system collapse was never found, but a few stable states were coaxed into existence with various additional techniques, for example the stable cell in the figure below. Perhaps a more systematic exploration of the parameters involved could shed more light on this situation and find more interesting objects.

This figure shows a stable “alive” cell, unable to move. This is a 1 spatial, 1 temporal dimension version of the ‘game,’ with the time parameter being the backwards direction, so that one can see the stable object persisting in time without moving on this plot. The periodic time displacements visible are from a driving oscillation that Kerrigan added to try to coax out some more movement, but ultimately this failed.

Danielle Champney with Julia Gladding, Nicole Linman, Kathryn Voltmer, Lacey Christopher Maria Ramirez-Camacho, Evelyn Fox and Francis Britschgi

Content-Based Mentorship Program

Lacey Christophersen, Maria Ramirez-Camacho and Kathryn Voltmer worked on extensions of previous summers' projects, completing the final design of a content-based mentorship program. Cal Poly is implementing the program, which is in its third cycle, with partner Da Vinci Science High School in Hawthorne, Calif. The team also developed three research studies. Christophersen and Voltmer also presented a poster on their work during the 2017 Learn by Doing: More than a Motto Conference, and Ramirez-Camacho presented a poster and gave a research talk to prospective and current students and parents at the Cal Poly Mustang Family Weekend Showcase. 

Understanding Students' Mathematical Development

Julia Gladding and Nicole Linman developed and implemented a study designed to better understand students' mathematical development of three content-based strands that span from kindergarten through college. Their study included extensive development of tasks and protocols for collecting data on young students' mathematical thinking and understanding.

Their work transitioned into their senior project, and they were joined by Lindsay Nolte. The team of three has, in addition to pursuing their own research, developed a video library that showcases young students thinking along their identified strands, which coincides with the Math for Liberal Studies sequence of four courses offered to future teachers through the Mathematics Department.

The Effectiveness of a Classroom-Based System of Games

Statistics majors Francis Britschi and Evelyn Fox extended previous summers' research to design measures and means for studying the effectiveness of a classroom-based system of games being implemented in fifth grade classrooms. The classroom system is on its fourth cycle during the current academic year, and Britschi and Fox’s experimental design has guided data collection during this first non-pilot year of the system and curriculum. 

Robert Easton with Chad Collins, Sam Lindbloom-Airey and Cruz Godar

A Tropical Analogue of the Classical Duality Map for Projective Plane Conics

Robert Easton led a group of Frost Research Fellows consisting of Chad Collins, Cruz Godar and Sam Lindbloom in an investigation into a tropical analogue of the classical duality map for projective plane conics. They ultimately showed that the straightforward tropical analogues of the duality do not lead to a true duality for tropical projective plane conics, but something closer to a partial duality.

Caixing Gu with Sean Gonzales, Perry Roeder and Codi Barnett

Quadratic infinite trees and 3-isometric composition operators.

Isometries are linear operators that preserve the length of vectors. In this project, we studied high order isometries. We focused on a class of composition operators that can be represented by infinite graphs. The branch growth properties of these graphs are closed related to the orders of the generalized isometries. If the graph has a quadratic growth, then we have a 3-isometry. By enumerating these graphs using several mathematical tools, we showed there are unaccountably many (unitarily non-equivalent) such 3-isometries. This is in contrast with the 2-isometries where there are only countably many such 2-isometries.

Erin Pearse and Tony Samuel with Elise Mihanovich, Elisabeth Esquivel, Blaine Quackenbush, Jordan Rowley, Matt West and Zoe Cooperband

The Topological Entropy of 1-Dimensional Dynamical Systems

Erin Pearse and Tony Samuel worked over the summer with Zoe Cooperband, Elisabeth Esquivel, Elise Mihanovich, Jordan Rowley, Blaine Quackenbush and Matt West. The research team studied the topological entropy of 1-dimensional dynamical systems (iteration of Lorenz maps). More specifically, they looked at a family of Lorenz maps with a single discontinuity and attempted to prove that entropy changes continuously as the point of discontinuity is varied. 

Cooperband, Rowley, Quackenbush and West continued to work on the project through fall and winter quarters and presented their results at the Joint Mathematics Meeting poster session in January. The preprint is now complete and posted on arXiv.

Dylan Retsek with Scott Warnert

Abstract: Given a set S of functions we often ask

If ƒ and g are members of S and both enjoy property X, does ƒ◦g also enjoy property X?

When S is the set of functions from ℝ to ℝ and property X is continuity or differentiability, we answer this question affirmatively in calculus class.

In this project we considered the Hardy space Η² (ⅅ) of analytic functions on the open unit disk ⅅ in the complex plane whose Maclaurin coefficients are square-summable. Given analytic φ : ⅅ➞ⅅ, the composition operator Cφ on Η² (ⅅ); is then defined by Cφ = ƒ◦φ

Our program of research was to understand certain operator-theoretic properties of Cφ in terms of the geometric-function-theoretic properties of the map φ. In particular, the action of the operator Cφ on the reproducing kernels in Η² was fully classified for linear fractional symbols φ yielding some surprising results. The authors are currently preparing a manuscript for publication.

Student Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program

Nick Rubio participated in the Student Teacher and Researcher (STAR) Program during summer 2017. He worked with researchers and other future teachers at the Biosphere 2 Lab at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Rubio studied trends in the California drought and learned about research techniques and some applied mathematics techniques, while spending time with fellow participants thinking about how to utilize his new skills in his future high school mathematics classroom. Rubio’s advisor at University of Arizona was Guo-Yue Niu.

Academy of Inquiry Based Learning

Danielle Champney, Todd Grundmeier, Dylan Retsek and Stan Yoshinobu continued their work on supporting inquiry-based learning in college mathematics. Professional Development and Uptake through Collaborative Teams (PRODUCT). This project focuses on A main goal of PRODUCT is to expand the professional development capacity of the mathematics profession in delivering inquiry-based learning (IBL) methods in college math courses.

Co-led by Yoshinobu and Sandra Laursen at the University of Colorado, Boulder, the PRODUCT team includes 19 math professors across the nation in addition to the Cal Poly faculty members. In summer 2018, the entire team will conduct three workshops in Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Chicago, and several shorter workshops at math departments and regional conferences in North America.
The project is funded by a $2.8 million National Science Foundation grant. More information is available on the Academy of Inquiry Based Learning website.

Students Attend Professional Mathematics and Math Education Conferences

May 11, 2018

The future of mathematics education got a little brighter this year as teachers-to-be attended multiple professional events and workshops with their faculty mentors. Students also attended and presented at the regional Mathematical Association of America Conference.

California Mathematics Council North Conference

Future elementary school teachers Emily Tom, Sky Griffin and David Gutierrez attended the 2017 California Mathematics Council North Conference for mathematics teachers and educators. They were joined by Maria Ramirez and Hayley Cushing, future secondary mathematics teachers, whose travel was supported by the Noyce Scholarship NSF grant. The students — from math, liberal studies and the single subject mathematics credential — attended talks and participated in discussions about K-12 mathematics in our state.

Elsa Medina and Amélie Schinck-Mikel led a workshop titled Fun with Algebraic Thinking at the conference.

Noyce Scholars

Todd Grundemeier and Elsa Medina offered two three-day mathematics workshops for Noyce scholars during summer 2017. The workshops provide a support system and an opportunity for these future and current mathematics teachers to discuss issues in the teaching and learning of mathematics.

Fifty Noyce Scholars from Cal Poly and other universities attended. The workshop is funded by a National Science Foundation grant that provides $12,000 or $24,000 scholarships to future mathematics teachers who make a commitment to teach in a high needs school district. Participants also receive $800 for attending the summer workshops.

Research on Undergraduate Mathematics Education Conference

Julia Gladding and Nicole Linman attended the Research on Undergraduate Mathematics Education conference to supplement their summer research and senior project work on bridging topics that span the entire K-16 curriculum. Their focus is on developing strands within which student learning can be coherently supported from kindergarten through college. 

Cal Poly Math Academy

The sixth annual Cal Poly Math Academy, directed by Elsa Medina and Amélie Schinck-Mikel, welcomed more than 40 Hispanic students from local high schools to campus last summer. For one week, students solved challenging mathematical problems through hands-on activities. The academy, which is supported by the College of Science and Mathematics, aims to inspire students to pursue careers in STEM fields and to see and enjoy the beauty of mathematics.

Golden Section of the Mathematical Association of America Conference

Students Tim Wetzel and Perrin Silveira and professors Jonathan Shapiro and Rebecca Bishop attended the annual meeting of the Golden Section of the Mathematical Association of America Conference held at CSU East Bay. The Golden Section includes Northern California, Northern Nevada and Hawaii.

Wetzel presented a poster on his research findings on two ways to reduce noise in data. His advisor on the project was Professor Paul Choboter.

Wetzel's Abstract

Data transforms are used to put data into a different format, in order to manipulate it in ways impossible to achieve in its original form. These types of transformations are commonly used to “denoise”, or reduce noise in, data. This report examines two types of data transforms — the Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and the Discrete Wavelet Transform (DWT) — and analyzes which is more effective at improving distorted signals. In this report, two signals were tested:

  1. Signal 1: a 20-second song clip of ‘Gotta Go’ by The Incrementals  synthetically dis- torted with noise generated by matlab’s rand() function
  2. Signal 2: a seismic signal of a Mw9.0 earthquake originating in Tohoku-Oki, Japan on March 11, 2011, which includes noise organically

Preliminary research indicated that FFT is more accurate when analyzing sound waves due to the periodic nature of the transform, and that DWT is more accurate when analyzing data composed of discrete, unlinked data points. FFT is described as the faster method in all instances. In this report’s experiments, this proved true. FFT was measurably faster for both signals, and measurably more accurate for the sound signal. While it was impossible to quantify accuracy against an original seismic signal by the nature of that type of data, DWT was qualitatively more accurate than FFT in this case. 

Faculty Do It All: Publications, Grants, Awards, Talks and Workshops

May 11, 2018

Cal Poly faculty contributed to the field and profession of mathematics in many ways in 2017-18. Read on to learn about their accomplishments, which ranged from discoveries about orbifold structures to presentations on gender equity in STEM disciplines.


J. Borzellino and V. Brunsden. “On the inheritance of orbifold substructures.” Topology and its Applications, 232 (2017) 176-182, doi:10.1016/j.topol.2017.10.005.

F. Dreher, M. Keßeböhmer, A. Mosbach, T. Samuel and M. Steffens. “Regularity of aperiodic minimal subshifts.” Bulletin of Mathematical Sciences. (2017) 1-22.

C. Gu, H. Heidi and R. Lee. “The n-inverses of a matrix, Functional Analysis.” Approximation and Computation. 31 (2017) 3801-3813.

C. Gu, I.S. Huang, D. Kang and W. Y. Lee. “Normal singular Cauchy integral operators with operator-valued symbols.” J.  Math. Anal. Appl. 447 (2017) 289-308.   

C. Gu and D. Kang. “Rank of truncated Toepltiz operators.” Complex Analysis and Operator Theory. 11 (2017) 825-842.

C. Gu, S. Luo and X. Jie. “Reducing subspaces on the Dirichlet space and Riemann surfaces.” Complex Manifold. 4 (2017) 84-119.

C. Gu and S. Paul. “Tensor splitting properties of n-inverse pairs of operators.” Studia. Math. 238 (2017) 17-36.

M. C. Kafatos and G. C. Kato. “Sheaf theoretic formulation for consciousness and qualia and relationship to the idealism of non-dual philosophies.” Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 131 (2017) 242-250.

G. C. Kato and K. Nishimura. “An integrated brain function.” Scientific J. Cogn. Sci. 1(2)(2017) 39-42.

L. Patton, E. Militzer, I. M. Spitkovsky and M. C. Tsai. “Numerical ranges of 4-by-4 nilpotent matrices: flat portions on the boundary.” Oper. Theory Adv. Appl. 259 (2017) 561-591.

Grants and Awards

The Cal Poly Math Club honored Emily Hamilton as the 2016-17 Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year.

Tony Mendes received the Cal Poly University Distinguished Teaching Award.

Tony Samuel received the 2018 Cal Poly Terrance Harris Excellence in Mentorship Award. He also, along with principle investigator J. Walto, secured funding from LMS Research in Pairs – Scheme 4 (41715) for the project titled, “Cohomology of generalised Grigorchuk words” for travel costs for investigators to carry out research visits to the University of Durham.

Joyce Lin and principle investigator Steven Poelzing from the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute were awarded a four-year, $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study the role of size and space between cells in determining the risk of sudden cardiac death and possible therapeutic targets to modulate the health of heart patients.

Invited Talks

Danielle Champney gave an invited talk at the AMS Meeting in Riverside titled “Transforming Our Classrooms into Calculus Communities, and the Role of Productive Failure.”

Goro Kato traveled to universities in Kyoto, Osaka, Shizuoka, Waseda, Josai and Jochi, Japan, giving a series of talks on “The diagonal and triangle derived categories of N-complexes” and “Quantum physics and t-topos.”

Joyce Lin served as a speaker for the Gender Equity Center Women in STEM panel, along with Lauren Rueda from EcoVox, Kimberly Walter from Newton Construction & Management and Bushra Anjum from Amazon. Students from all STEM fields at Cal Poly were invited to ask questions about challenges and advantages to being a woman in a male-dominated field.

Linda Patton gave invited talks at the International Linear Algebra Society in Ames, Iowa, on “Numerical Ranges with Rotational Symmetry,” and at the Joint Mathematics Meetings in San Diego on “Pick Interpolation on the Boundary of the Bidisk.”

Tony Samuel gave two talks, “Regularity of aperiodic minimal subshifts” at Durham Universityin the U.K. and “A meander through the space of intermediate β-transformations” at the Fractal Geometry and Dynamics research program in the Mittag-Leffler Institut, Sweden. Samuel also organized two conferences: the Bremen - Cal Poly - Lübeck One Day Meeting on Dynamics, Geometry and Stochasticsm; and Thermodynamic Formalism - Applications to Geometry and Number Theory [In memory of B. O. Stratmann (1957 - 2015)].

Workshops and Conferences

Dave Camp participated in a joint meeting between ReCoVER and Past Earth Network that took place at Dartington Hall, Devon, U.K.. The meeting looked at a hierarchy of nonlinear models of past climate and will consider how global oscillations of climate variables are created (forced or internal) and may be "paced" by astronomical or other forcing. This adds to our understanding of how the climate system in general responds to forcing, which is relevant for projected future climate change. 

Linda Patton participated in a workshop “Crouziex’s conjecture” at the American Institute of Mathematics in San Jose from July 31-August 4, 2017.


In Memoriam: Professor Emeritus Jean (Jeannie) Marie McDill

May 11, 2018

The Cal Poly Mathematics Department lost a treasured friend and colleague on Dec. 8, 2017, when Professor Emeritus Jean Marie McDill passed away. Jeanie received her bachelor’s in physics from the University of Texas. She earned her doctorate in mathematics from the University of Florida in 1971, writing her dissertation in category theory under advisor George Strecker. She taught in the Cal Poly Mathematics Department from 1973 until her retirement in 2001; she also taught part-time in the Faculty Early Retirement Program until 2006.

Jeanie was a strong proponent of visualizing mathematical concepts, and she had many creative ideas for such illustrations. Starting in the early ‘90’s, Jeanie worked with other early adopters of instructional technology to create Interactive Differential Equations, a set of tools for visualizing phenomena involving differential equations; she made visualization tools for business calculus as well. She coauthored a well-received textbook “Differential Equations and Linear Algebra” with Jerry Farlow, James Hall and Beverly West.

Locally, Jeanie was one of several faculty who developed and used the computer lab in 38-135 for active learning projects with software. After retiring, Jeanie continued to participate in special sessions involving the Community of Ordinary Differential Equations Educators at the Joint Mathematics Meetings.

In addition to differential equations, Jeanie frequently taught graduate topology and the history of mathematics. One memorable year, her history of math class featured a Newton vs. Leibniz “trial” in which students played the roles of attorneys and witnesses to illustrate the controversy over who really discovered calculus.

Jeanie was one of the first women to teach in the Cal Poly Mathematics Department; she was probably the first tenure-track female faculty member in pure mathematics. She was a wonderful mentor and supporter for female faculty who were hired after her. In addition to providing serious advice, she taught us how to maintain equanimity while frequently losing keys, purses and other important items.

Along with her accomplishments in mathematics and teaching, Jeanie was a founding member of the San Luis Obispo Folk Music Society. She loved reading mysteries and science fiction. Especially after retirement, she traveled to exotic places all over the world with her family and many friends. Her adventures included swimming with whales off the coast of Africa, riding a camel in Egypt, and visiting the Galapagos Islands. Jeanie is survived by her daughter Kathleen McDill, son-in-law Karl Bilawski, grandsons Erik and Ian, and brother Richard Willmore, as well as many extended family members and close friends. Former students and colleagues can send messages or memories to Kathleen at

Kato, Todorov to Retire in June 2018

May 11, 2018

Goro Kato

Goro Kato was born in 1948 in Kariya, Japan, where the founder and first president of Toyota, Mr. Sakichi Toyota, was born and raised. He came to the United States as a graduate student on a Rotary International Foundation Fellowship in June 1972. He earned his doctorate at the University Rochester, in New York with advisor Saul Lubkin who proved Weil’s conjectures (except the Weil-Riemann hypothesis). Kato came to Cal Poly in June 1981 as an assistant professor.

He has given 75 talks, lectures, workshops and seminars at international conferences in Italy, Belgium, the U.K., Romania, Holland, Sweden, Germany, Japan and the U.S., including presentations for the European Science Foundation supported Advanced Lecture Series. He has published forty papers and six books.

Kato has been invited to the Institute for Advanced Study — one of the world’s leading centers for basic research, located in Princeton, New Jersey — seven times. His first invitation was arranged by Professor R. Langlands in 1986, with subsequent invitations arranged by Professor P. Deligne.

His areas of study are p-adic cohomology and its zeta invariants (See The Heart of Cohomology published by Springer, 2006), the theory of D-modules (See Fundamentals of Algebraic Microlocal Analysis, coauthor: Daniele Struppa, published by Chapman & Hall / CRC, 1999), temporal topos in theoretical physics (See Elements of Temporal Topos, published by Abramis Academic, Arima Publishing, 2013), and cohomological algebra. He recently finished the manuscript for his memoir, “Being Here” to be published by Iwanami-Shoten, Tokyo, in 2018 or 2019.

Todor Todorov

Todor D. Todorov earned his doctorate in mathematical (theoretical) physics from the University of Sofia and the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in 1982 under Christo Yankov Christov, a professor of the University of Sofia and Academician of the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, a prominent theoretical physicist and one of the founders of mathematical physics in Bulgaria.

Todorov emigrated to the U.S. in 1988 as a political immigrant from then communist Bulgaria and has been a U.S. citizen since 1994.

After earning his doctorate, Todorov held the following permanent and visiting positions: research fellow at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences in Sofia, Bulgaria; visiting research fellow at the International Institute for Theoretical Physics at Trieste, Italy; visiting professor at the International School for Advanced Studies (SISSA) at Trieste; visiting professor at the University of California, Santa Barbara and since 1990, a lecturer and then a professor of mathematics at Cal Poly.

His favorite course to teach was Math 248, Methods of Proof. He was the advisor for two master theses in mathematics and numerous senior projects and produced several joint articles with students.

Todorov published almost forty articles in different mathematical journals. Most of his research, beginning with his dissertation, is on the application of non-standard analysis (modern theory of infinitesimals) to the Colombeau theory of generalized functions and the problem of multiplication of Schwartz distributions. He also has published articles on the compactification of ordered topological spaces, solvability of linear partial differential equations with smooth coefficients, standard and non-standard asymptotic analysis, Laplace transform, and teaching calculus, in particular, how to teach limits using infinitesimals.

After retiring, Todorov plans to work on a research monograph tentatively titled “An Axiomatic Approach to the Colombeau Theory of Generalized Functions” and enjoy life as much as possible in both California and Europe.


Letter from the Chair - 2017

Jun 13, 2017

It’s been a big year for the College of Science and Mathematics. You may have heard that Bill (Biochemistry, ’72) and Linda Frost recently made a historic gift of $110 million to the college. We’re very grateful to the Frosts for their generosity.

This gift will directly impact the Mathematics Department in a number of ways. It includes money for scholarships to attract the most academically talented high school students. Math students are eligible for these scholarships, which offer $20,000 a year for four years. Currently, there are four of these Frost Scholars in the department.

Summer research students will also benefit from the gift. You can read about the accomplishments of our summer research students in this newsletter.

This gift also includes the previously announced $20 million for the new Science and Agriculture Teaching and Research Complex, which will provide approximately 2,000 square feet of dedicated computational and collaboration space for student-faculty research in multiple disciplines, including mathematics. The building is scheduled to open in the 2021-22 academic year.

From what I’ve seen of preliminary design plans, this new building will be one of the most impressive on campus. Located across from the Baker Center in the open space between the English and Science North buildings, it will incorporate many of the latest innovations in architectural design.

The total cost for the science and mathematics facilities in the building is $25 million, and the college still needs to raise $2 million. In addition to providing needed funding, your donation to this building project will demonstrate to the Frosts that mathematics alumni are dedicated to Cal Poly. If you’re interested in supporting the building, you can read more information online, contact me, or contact the college.

We’re grateful for all the different ways our alumni give back to Cal Poly. In January, we were excited to host alumnus Don Gibson (Mathematics, ’80). As a student, Don competed as a Putnam Exam team member, was a member of Kappa Mu Epsilon, completed two internships with IBM, and was named Outstanding Graduating Senior for the School of Science and Mathematics. After graduating from Cal Poly, Don worked for Hewlett-Packard until his retirement in January 2011. At HP, Don worked in many capacities, which included conducting hundreds of interviews for technical positions. Don spoke to a packed room of math majors about his experience as a recruiter and passed on advice for students confronting job interviews for the first time. It was a pleasure to meet Don, as well as a wonderful experience for our students to connect with him and benefit from his expertise.

In closing, I’d like to once again thank those who have supported us through donations and gifts. We are grateful for the critical support you provide through your generosity. Your continued interest in helping the department meet its goals is very much appreciated by our students, faculty and staff.

Please keep in touch and let us know what you’ve been up to. If you’re on campus, we’d love to see you at the department office.

Joseph Borzellino

Continue reading Letter from the Chair - 2017...

Publications, Grants and Awards 2016-17

Jun 6, 2017


A. Bertram and R. Easton. "The tropical Nullstellensatz for congruences." Advances in Mathematics. 308 (2016) 36-82, DOI 10.1016/j.aim.2016.12.004.

J. Borzellino and V. Brunsden. “On the notions of suborbifold and orbifold embedding.” Algebraic & Geometric Topology. 15 (5)(2015) 2789-2803.

E. Brussel, K. McKinnie and E. Tengan. “Cyclic length in the tame Brauer group of the function field of a p-adic curve.” American Journal of Mathematics. 138(2)(2016) 251-286.

C. Gu. “Algebraic properties of Cauchy singular integral operators on the unit circle.” Taiwanese Journal of Mathematics. 20 (1) (2016) 161-189.

C. Gu. “Reducing subspaces of weighted shifts with operator weights.” Bulletin of the Korean Mathematical Society. 53 (5) (2016) 1471-1481.

C. Gu, M. Chō and W. Y. Lee. “Elementary properties of infinity - isometries on a Hilbert space.” Linear Algebra and its Applications. 511 (2016) 378-402.

C. Gu, I.S. Huang, D. Kang and W. Y. Lee. “Normal singular Cauchy integral operators with operator-valued symbols.” Journal of Mathematical Analysis and Applications. 447 (1) (2017) 289-308.

E. Hamilton. “Double coset separability of abelian subgroups of hyperbolic n-orbifold groups.” Proceedings of the American Mathematical Society. 144(6) (2016) 2327–2336.

G. Kato. “Topos Theoretic Approach to Space and Time.” Space, Time and the Limits of Human Understanding. Springer, 2017.

J. Liese, B. Miceli and J. Remmel. “Connection coefficients between generalized rising and falling factorial bases.” Annals of Combinatorics. 19(2)(2015) 337-361.

A. Mendes and M. Romero. “A note on the kth tensor product of the defining representation.” Journal of Combinatorics. 7(4)(2016) 715-724.

B. Richert. “A proof of Evans’ convexity conjecture.” Communications in Algebra. 43(8)(2015) 3275-3281.

K. Falk, T. Jäger, M. Keßeböhmer, J. Rademacher and T. Samuel, ed. Diffusion on Fractals and Non-linear Dynamics: Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems Series S. 10 (2017).

R. Veeraraghavan, J. Lin, J. P. Keener, R. G. Gourdie and S. Poelzing. “Potassium Channels in the Cx43 Gap Junction Perinexus Modulate Ephaptic Coupling: An Experimental and Modeling Study.” Pflüger's Archiv - European Journal of Physiology. Aug 11 (2016) 1651-1661.

Invited Talks

Tony Samuel gave two invited talks at the University of Bremen: “Continuity of entropy in one-dimensional Lorenz maps” and “Quasicrystals, Jarník sets and spectral metrics.” Samuel will conduct research at the Mittag Leffler Institute in Swededn in fall 2017.

Joe Borzellino traveled to Krakow, Poland, in fall 2016 to work with collaborator Tomek Rybicki of AGH University of Science and Technology and, while in Poland, attended the 50th Session of the Seminar Sophus Lie at the Mathematical Research and Science Center in Będlewo.

Joyce Lin traveled to Atlanta, Ga., for the Joint Mathematics Meetings in January 2017 to give an invited talk in the American Mathematical Society Special Session on Mathematics in Physiology and Medicine. Undergraduates Sidney Arthofer, Jeffrey Lee, Jojo Brooker, Nolan Schock, Kevin Sum and Caroline Yovanovich also attended.


Joyce Lin received a joint National Science Foundation-National Institutes of Health grant to study ephaptic effects — a form of communication within the nervous system — in cardiac tissue. She will collaborate with Steven Poelzing at Virginia Tech’s Carilion Research Institute.


Kappa Alpha Theta, a women’s fraternity founded in 1870, named Danielle Champney one of ten Outstanding Faculty Award recipients following the 2015-16 school year.


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