Awards Day 2019: April 26 at 3:30pm

This year’s Awards Day Ceremony will take place on Friday April 26th at 3:30pm in Schenker Lecture Hall, followed by a talk given by Dr. Steven Miller.

The German Tank Problem: Math/Stats At War

Steven J Miller
Carnegie Mellon and Williams College

During World War II the German army used tanks to devastating advantage. The Allies needed accurate estimates of their tank production and deployment. They used two approaches to find these values: spies, and statistics. In this talk we describe the statistical approach and its generalization. Assuming the tanks are labeled consecutively starting at 1, if we observe $k$ serial numbers from an unknown number $N$ of tanks, with the maximum observed value $m$, what is the best estimate for $N$? This is now known as the German Tank Problem, and is a terrific example of the applicability of mathematics and statistics in the real world. We quickly review some needed combinatorial identities (which is why we are able to obtain clean, closed form expressions), give the proof for the standard problem, discuss the generalization, and show how if we were unable to do the algebra we could guess the formula by an application of linear regression, thus highlighting its power and applicability. Most of the talk only uses basic algebra and elementary knowledge of WWII.

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Congratulations to Spring 2018 Integration Bee winners

winners of first annual integration bee

On April 19, 2018, UConn’s graduate student chapter of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) organized the math department’s first annual integration bee, in which undergraduates came together to test their skill at (indefinite) integration.

After welcoming remarks by department head Ambar Sengupta and the AMS Graduate Student Chapter officers, the students got to work. In the first round each student was given 5 minutes to compute 3 integrals. In later rounds students came up to the blackboard in groups of four to compute an integral in four minutes. A wrong answer or no answer was a strike against a student and, unlike in baseball, after 2 strikes the student was out.

After three hours the four remaining contenders were Nick Juricic, Grace Lauber, Zhongwei Wang, and Zerun Zhao. Grace and Zerun competed for third place, with Grace clutching that position with only seconds to spare. In the last round Nick and Zhongwei competed to compute the integral of cot(x)sec^2(x), which Nick figured out to take first place.

The winners received gift certificates from several area businesses: Bonchon Chicken, Gansett Wraps, Kathmandu Kitchen, Lizzie’s Curbside, Moe’s Southwest Grill, Starbucks, and Subway. All participants received a free meal compliments of the AMS and the brain nourishment that comes from solving math problems.

The AMS graduate student chapter thanks all the participants and volunteers for their help making this event a success and it looks forward to organizing the Integration Bee again next year.

Pictured above, from left to right, Nick Juricic (1st place), Zhongwei Wang (2nd place), Grace Lauber (3rd place), and Zerun Zhao (4th place).