Mathematics Department - Spring 2002 Newsletter

Spring 2002 Newsletter

Message from the Department Chair
Faculty Prizes and Honors
New Faculty this Year
Faculty Promotions
New Faculty for Fall 2002
New Faculty for Fall 2003
Lewis and D'Atri lectures
Undergraduate Program News
Graduate Program News
Pizza Seminar News
Alumni News
Contributions to the Department


This was a year in which there was much to be proud of in terms of the accomplishments of our Department. In its most recent ratings, US News and World Report ranked the Rutgers Mathematics Department 16th overall and 6th among state universities. Several noteworthy events took place in the Department this year. A Conference on Noncompact Variational Problems and General Relativity, in honor of Haim Brezis and Felix Browder, was held October 14-18, 2001. In early May, the Department held a lunch to honor Adrienne and Maurice Weill for their generous support of undergraduate scholarships and graduate fellowships. The six undergraduate scholarship winners, Stephen Healey, Sara Jane Leslie, Rahul Malhotra, John F. McClain III, Craig Phillips, and Jared Smollik and graduate student award recipients Nicoleta Calinescu, Juan Davila, Brian Manning, Carlo Mazza, Yuka Taylor, and Liming Wang participated in the event and demonstrated the very high quality undergraduate and graduate students the Department is attracting. As in past years, the Department hosted a large number of seminars and colloquia and many distinguished visitors. This spring, Maxim Kontsevich gave a series of lectures on "Axiomatic quantum field theory."

Dan Ocone is completing his two-year term as Undergraduate Vice-Chair. I would like to thank Dan for doing a terrific job and welcome Gene Speer, the next Undergraduate Vice-Chair. This summer, we have instituted a new position, Summer Advisor and Mentor. Professor Paul Feehan will serve in the position advising students on summer courses, reviewing courses for transfer credit, and mentoring Mathematics Department graduate students who will be teaching their own courses for the first time. Next year, Professor Jerry Tunnell will become the Director of Professional Development for Graduate Students taking over from Professor Jim Lepowsky. Thanks to Jim for a good job helping our graduate students.

I am pleased to announce that Rutgers will begin offering this coming fall a new interdisciplinary Ph.D. granting graduate program at the interface between the Biological, Mathematical, and Physical Sciences (BioMaPS) designed to serve the needs of the increasing number of graduate students from the physical, mathematical, and computational sciences who are being drawn to the biological sciences and, more generally, to educate a new generation of life-sciences researchers with more sophisticated quantitative skills. The Department of Mathematics is one of several departments involved in this program and also in the new BioMaPS Institute. The Department's efforts in this initiative are being led by Professor Eduardo Sontag, who serves as a member of the Steering Committee.

A broad spectrum of information about the Department, both current and from past years, is available on the Mathematics Department web site. In particular, honors awarded to faculty in previous years may be found on the faculty honors page and honors received by undergraduate and graduate students may be found on the Mathematics Department Undergraduate Awards and Prizes page and the Mathematics Department Graduate Awards and Prizes page, respectively.




Haim Brezis

Haim Brezis received Honorary Degrees from the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and the University of Leiden, The Netherlands. Dr. Brezis was also the first recipient of the Ky and Yu-Fen Fan Award of the American Mathematical Society.







Henryk Iwaniec

Dr. Henryk Iwaniec, the New Jersey Professor of Mathematics, was the recipient of the 2002 AMS Cole Prize in Number Theory and the 2001 Ostrowski Prize . Presented every three years by the American Mathematical Society, the Cole Prize recognizes outstanding contributions to mathematical research in number theory. Professor Iwaniec was honored for fundamental contributions to analytic number theory.

The Ostrowski Prize is awarded every second year for an outstanding contribution in the field of mathematics. The Ostrowski Foundation, which awards the prize, was established by Professor A.M. Ostrowksi of Basel (1893-1986). The prize consists of 50,000 Swiss Francs for each prize winner and the possibility to nominate a promising young candidate for a Postdoctoral Fellowhship of 30,000 Francs. Professor Iwaniec shares the 2001 prize with Richard Taylor (Harvard University) and Peter Sarnak (Princeton University).




Martin Kruskal

Dr. Martin D. Kruskal, the David Hilbert Professor of Mathematics, was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. The Fellowship includes distinguished individuals drawn from Science, Arts, Letters, Technology, the Professions, Industry and Commerce, and functions as Scotland's National Academy for Science and Letters.







Joel Lebowitz

Dr. Joel Lebowitz, the George William Hill Professor of Mathematics and Physics, received the Vito Volterra Medal from the Academia Lincea in Rome for his seminal contributions to the development of the field of nonequilibrium statistical mechanics. His address to the scientists gathered for the award ceremony in Rome was titled "Order, Chaos, and Entropy: Reversibility and the Second Law of Thermodynamics."







Fred Roberts

Dr. Fred Roberts, Professor of Mathematics and Director of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) received the National Science Foundation Science and Technology Centers Pioneer Award. The award was presented "in recognition of your vision, leadership, and entrepreneurial spirit in pioneering the science and technology center concept." DIMACS was one of the original 11 NSF "science and technology centers," receiving its funding starting in 1989.







Eduardo Sontag

Professor Eduardo Sontag was one of only four faculty members receiving the Rutgers University Board of Trustees Award for Excellence in Research, the University's highest honor for outstanding research contributions to a discipline or to society. Professor Sontag was honored for" his energetic and creative leadership in applied mathematics and in engineering; his more than 200 publications, which have introduced influential new research directions and insightful technical innovations; and his contributions in the field of control theory, both in its theoretical development and in its applications for practical methods for control-system analysis and design."






Jean Taylor

Dr. Jean E. Taylor received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from her Alma Mater, Mount Holyoke College.








Chris Woodward

Dr. Christopher Woodward was one of six faculty members, all recently promoted from assistant professor to associate professor with tenure, receiving the Board of Trustees Fellowship for Scholarly Excellence. The award, designed to recognize junior faculty whose work shows exceptional promise, includes a framed citation and a $2,000 research account to continue ongoing research.






More Faculty Honors




Doron Zeilberger joined the Department as a Board of Governor's Professor of Mathematics, coming to Rutgers from Temple University. A winner of the AMS Steele Prize in 1998, he is renowned for his research in algebraic and enumerative combinatorics and also his explorations in "experimental mathematics" (with his "coauthor" Salosh B. Ekhad, who is a computer).

Associate Professors

Paul Feehan joined the Department as a tenured Associate Professor, coming to Rutgers from Ohio State University and the University of Dublin, Ireland. His research is in partial differential equations, especially gauge theories and applications to the topology of four-manifolds.

Assistant Professors

Lara Alcock joined the Department and the Graduate School of Education as a joint tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in Mathematics education, coming to Rutgers with a Ph.D. in Math Education from the University of Warwick.

Lisa Carbone joined the Department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from Harvard University where she had been a Benjamin Pierce Assistant Professor since 1997. Her specialties are group actions on trees, tree lattices, and Kac-Moody groups.

Inna Korchagina joined the Department as an Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from Ohio State University, having completed her Ph.D. research on finite simple groups under the direction of Ron Solomon.

Stephen Miller joined the Department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from Yale University where he had been an Assistant Professor since 1997. His specialties are number theory, automorphic forms, and L-functions

Shawn Robinson joined the Department as a VIGRE Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he finished his Ph.D. thesis in algebraic geometry (cohomology and K-theory of flag varieties) under Shrawan Kumar.


Yavor Markov joined the Department as an Instructor/Instructional Technology Specialist and was involved with the Department's Instructional Technology Initiative (see WeBWorK). He completed his Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, with a dissertation in Representation Theory of Lie Algebras and Quantum Groups directed by Alexander Varchenko.



Chuck Weibel was promoted to the rank of Professor II.

Vladimir Retakh was promoted to the rank of Professor I.

Xiaochun Rong was promoted to the rank of Professor I.

Ovidiu Costin was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.

Chris Woodward was promoted to the rank of Associate Professor with tenure.

We congratulate these colleagues for their outstanding achievements that led to these promotions. Top


Assistant Professor

Manya Raman will join the Department and the Graduate School of Education as a joint tenure-track Assistant Professor appointment in mathematics education. She received her Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from UC Berkeley in June, 2002 and her areas of focus within mathematics education research include high school college transition, mathematical proof, epistemological beliefs, advanced mathematical thinking, and textbook analyses.



Assistant Professor

Natasha Komarova will join the Department as a tenure-track Assistant Professor, coming to Rutgers from the Institute for Advanced Study, where she has been a member of the Program in Theoretical Biology. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 1998 and has interests in mathematical biology, mathematical modeling of learning and evolution of language, nonlinear waves, and integrable systems.



Rosenzweig Sam Rosenzweig was a Rutgers faculty member for over forty years, coming to Rutgers in 1960 following a two year instructorship at MIT. He received his BS from City College of NY in 1953 and his Ph.D. from MIT in Algebra in 1958. Sam served as assistant Chair at Douglass College, on the Undergraduate Committee, and for many years as the main undergraduate advisor at Douglass College. He retired as of January 1, 2002 and was honored by the Department at a retirement party on December 12, 2001.








Weinstein Tilla Milnor Weinstein, a professor of Mathematics at Douglass College and FAS-NB, died on January 22, 2002. The apparent cause was a cerebral hemorrhage. She is survived by her sons David and Daniel Klotz and her husband, Kive Weinstein (mailing address: 2201 Saddleridge Court, Reno, NV 89509).

Tilla came to Douglass College in 1970 to chair the Department of Mathematics. The 1970's were a time of growth for the Mathematics Department at Douglass. Even before the term "mentor" became current, Tilla made sure that her younger colleages, especially her younger female colleagues, had guides through the groves of academe. (Tilla hired me in 1972 and hired Jean Taylor in 1973. Both of us are now full professors.) She contibuted valued leadership during the trying decade leading up to the reoganization of the faculty in 1980. Her goal was to increase the opportunities women in education and employment.

Between earning her Ph.D. at New York University and coming to Rutgers, Tilla held faculty positions at Boston College, and at UCLA. During her career she had also held visiting positions at NYU, MIT, the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, the University of Maryland, the CUNY Graduate Center, and the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute in Berkeley. She was a member of the Association for Women in Mathematics, the Mathematical Association of America, and the American Mathematical Society.

Tilla was a welcome counterexample to the myth that mathematicians do their best work very young. Her work gained depth throughout her career; her most important work came in the decade before her retirement. In addition to many talks in the U.S. and in other countries, her C.V. lists over 40 books, papers, and contributions to conference procedings. She supervised the doctoral dissertaions of four students in the area of Lorentz surfaces: Robert Smyth, Naomi Klarreich, Luke Higgins, and Senchun Lin.

Her astute comments helped to resolve any number of touchy issues that might otherwise have led to divisive debate. I remember most vividly the tremors in the faculty when departments were required to draft and adopt policy statements concerning sexual harassment. Tilla quietly pointed out that the issue was how to avoid abuse of authority, not how to define limits on the social lives of students and faculty. Her drafting committee brought back a document that was accepted unanimously.

Tilla was smart, wise, and savvy. She was both honest and compassionate. She will live in our memories as a model to emulate.

(Written by Amy Cohen, Fellow of Douglass College, and hired by Tilla for the Douglass Math Department in 1972.)



The D'Atri lectures, given by Luis Cafferelli of the University of Texas, were devoted to "Constraint Methods for Nonlinear Homogenization in Periodic and Random Media."

The next Lewis lectures will be given by Richard P. Stanley of M.I.T. These talks will be scheduled during the week of October 14-18, 2002. Title and exact dates to be announced.


Dan Ocone, Undergraduate Vice-Chair)

Developments in the Undergraduate Curriculum.

-- We have continued experimenting with the use of WeBWork, a web-based, supplemental instruction package, in our Math 135 course, a large first semester calculus course for non-science majors. Preliminary analysis by Professor Weibel shows that, after, adjusting for student pre-calculus skills, grades and WeBWork use are strongly and positively correlated. What is cause and what effect in this correlation are not yet clear, but the results support continued use of WeBWork for the next academic year.

--The changes to Math 135 led naturally to substantial changes in the Math 136 syllabus, with the idea that it is now a course for students who do not intend to continue in mathematics beyond linear algebra. Therefore, Math 136 de-emphasizes integration techniques and sequences and series, while adding an elementary introduction to multivariable calculus and to applications of the integral to probability. For this reason, the department decided that Math 135 will no longer serve as a pre-requisite for those higher level courses requiring Calc II.

--Math 300, Introduction to Mathematical Reasoning, is now a pre-requisite for 300 and 400 level mathematics course with a strong theoretical component.

--The new courses in Biomathematics, Math 336, Differential Equations in Biology, and Math 338, Discrete and Probabilistic Models in Biology, were both officially instituted this academic year, and attracted a number of students. Professor Sontag designed the Differential Equations in Biology course and Professor Capdebosq further developed it this year. Math 338 was taught for the first time in Spring 2002 by Professor Ocone. The syllabus focused on probabilistic models for biological sequences, dynamical programming in discrete-time, and their application to modelling, sequencing, and aligning DNA and protein sequences. The course web pages, Math 336 and Math 338 contain more information on syllabi and course content.

--In Spring 2002, Professors Komlos and Carrington initiated a one-credit Freshman Seminar, whose purpose is to identify promising first year students taking mathematics courses and to introduce them to exciting and challenging mathematical ideas early in their college education. Enrollment is by invitation only, upon the recommendation of instructors of freshman courses. The seminar features lectures by professors in the department, student work on various topics drawn from algebra, number theory, geometry, etc, and student presentations.

Undergraduate Prizes

We are pleased to announce this years winners of undergraduate prizes and scholarships. Michael Alfare received the David Martin Weiss Award for notable achievement in mathematics by a first-year student. Christopher Ross won the Lawrence Corwin Prize for best performance by a sophomore on the prize exam. Rahul Malhotra and Jared Smollik were jointly awarded the Bogart Prize for their outstanding overall achievement as mathematics majors.

The Weill scholarships were awarded to seniors Stephen Healey and Sarah Jane Leslie and juniors Rahul Malhotra, John F. McClain III, Craig Phillips, and Jared Smollik.

Mathematics and Mathematics Education

Interaction of our department with the Graduate School of Education continues to grow. First, we welcome two new appointments that we will share half-time with the GSE. Lara Alcock joined the department in Fall 2001 and so far is involved with teaching and working on Math 311 and Calculus. Manya Raman, a Ph.D. in Math Education from UC Berkeley will join the Department in Fall 2002.

Second, we point to the work of a new committee, the Rutgers Committee on the Mathematical Education of Teachers (CoMET). This is a joint effort of faculty from Mathematics and Mathematics Education to enhance course offerings for prospective teachers in order to help them obtain the thorough understanding of mathematics they will need to teach mathematics effectively.

Here is a brief list of CoMET projects with target dates.

1. Revising the semester-long GSE course "Modern High School Mathematics" to bring greater coherence to the mathematics and pedagogy that students have studied before they do their formal practice teaching. (Fall 2002)

2. Connecting the content of college mathematics to the content of secondary mathematics, with special attention to approximation, functions, and algebra. (Spring 2003)

3. Devising a course for prospective elementary school teachers which will not only satisfy college general education requirements but also provide the fundamental understanding of arithmetic, geometry, and probability that teachers need to meet diverse classroom challenges with confidence and flexibility. (Fall 2003)

4. Reconsidering our courses in geometry, probability, and statistics from the point of view of enhancing their usefulness to prospective teachers. (Fall 2003)

5. Developing a program of courses to support teaching in the middle grades (roughly grades 5-8). (Spring 2004)


Stephen Greenfield, Graduate Director)

Five students will earn their Ph.D.'s this year. They are (with advisors parenthesized):

Juan Davila (Haim Brezis)

Louis Dupaigne (Haim Brezis)

David Galvin (Jeffry Kahn)

Takao Sakuraba (Gerald Goldin)

Xiaodong Sun (Michael Saks)

Mr. Davila won a Dean's Award for Excellence in Research from the Graduate School. His work concerned linear and nonlinear elliptic differential equations. After graduation he will return as a faculty member to his undergraduate institution, the University of Santiago in Chile.

Also noteworthy is David Galvin's graduation. Since he won the pizza seminar award three times, his departure will likely increase the chances that others will win. In addition Mr. Galvin survived a year as the first head TA for Math 135, our single largest course, where he was instrumental in introducing and supporting WebWorK. Mr. Galvin's thesis discussed results concerning phase transition, of interest to both physicists and combinatorists. He will begin a two-year postdoctoral appointment with the Microsoft Theory Group. He will not, as has been rumored, be working on a version of Windows for the Abacus.

The number of applications for admission and support increased by more than 40% this year. While this is surely partly due to the high quality of the scholarly and educational life of the Department, this increase probably reflects the lean times in technical employment. We expect about a dozen new students arriving in the fall.

The generous gift of Maurice M. Weill and Adrienne R. Weill has allowed the graduate program to support the travel of several students. This year the income also supplemented first-year student support. Students in the program beyond the first year can usually get summer support from teaching or research, but first-year students generally do not have this opportunity. With support from the Weill Endowment, these students will be in residence during much of the summer, studying and preparing for their written exams.

This year Klay Kruczek was a Graduate Fellow in the Science and Mathematics Educational Partnerships program, and taught in the Crossroads Middle School in South Brunswick one day a week.

Three of our students ( Laura Ciobanu, Sasa Radomirovic, Lee Zhao) will participate in the summer program for computational number theory at the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, to be held in Vancouver, Canada. Also Madalena Chaves will participate in a summer program on Mathematical Modeling in Industry run by the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications in Minnesota. Other graduate students will be working in mathematical internships in industry. A number of first-year graduate students will be helping with REU activities this summer, working with both undergraduates and faculty members as part of research teams.

A new active administrative assistant, Ms. Janet Mindur (, has joined the program. We share Ms. Mindur's efforts with the Business Office of the Department.


PIZZA SEMINAR NEWS (Aaron Lauve, Curator)

Fall: 9 graduate students and 1 recent graduate spoke; two of the talks presented original material. The average attendance was 22. The year-by-year breakdown of who spoke is as follows:

year 1 2 3 4 5+
number 1 1 4 2 2

3 Faculty Research Glimpses were held; A total of 8 faculty members spoke. The average attendance here was 25.

Spring: 11 graduate students spoke; two of the talks presented original material. The average attendance was 21. The year-by-year breakdown of who spoke is as follows:

year 1 2 3 4 5+
number 2 1 4 2 2

2 Faculty Research Glimpses were held; A total of 5 faculty members spoke. The average attendance here was 29.

The following is a chronological list of the seminar speakers for the academic year 2001-2002. For more information, including the abstracts of the talks below, you may navigate to: pizza seminar.

Fall 2001 SEMINARS:

  • Aaron Lauve: and at the root of it all... Finite Reflection Groups
  • David Galvin: Conway's "Solitaire Army" Problem
  • Eva Curry: Proving the Paley-Zygmund Theorem; Wherein we will say the same thing twice, yet it will look quite different.
  • Jason Tedor: On Bathrooms
  • Yi Zhao: One Tiling Problem
  • James Taylor: Surely you're joking Mr. Bohm
  • Nicholas Weininger: On Computing the Volumes of Convex Bodies, or, How to Throw Darts in a Useful Manner
  • Matthew Young: p = a (mod q)
  • Raju Chelluri: Khintchin's Constant
  • Lee Zhao: Pjatetckii-Sapiro Prime Number Theorem

    Faculty Research Glimpses I

  • Jean Taylor
  • Steve Ferry

    Faculty Research Glimpses, II

  • Ovidiu Costin
  • Lisa Carbone
  • Yi-Zhi Huang

    Faculty Research Glimpses, III

  • Gene Speer
  • Norman Zabusky
  • Stephen Miller


  • Jason Tedor: A beautiful theorem from economics.
  • Richard Mikula: A discussion on the Gage-Hamilton Theorem
  • Kia Dalili: Infinite Dimensional Sphere, or When Intuition Flies right out the Window!
  • Jeff Burdges: Hilbert's 17th Problem
  • Klay Kruczek: 3 proofs of the Same Theorem!! Zero-Sum Sets of Prescribed Size
  • Eric Sundberg: A Peek at Positional Game Postulates
  • Stephen Hartke: Filled or Full of Holes?
  • Brian Lins: Eigenvalue Roundup: Yee-Hah!
  • Xiaoqing Li: Existence of Cusp Forms
  • German Enciso: A quick tour on Nonstandard Analysis (Nonstandard Analysis for Dummies?)
  • Jason Tedor: U-Turns on Narrow Roads

    Faculty Research Glimpses IV

  • Jozsef Beck
  • Avraham Soffer
  • Christopher Woodward

    Faculty Research Glimpses V

  • Jeff Kahn
  • Michael Kiessling
  • Top


    The Mathematics Department is very interested in hearing from its alumni/alumnae from either the undergraduate or graduate program, about where they are and what they are doing. One aim is to set up a Department website that would facilitate contacts among former graduates and serve as a source of contacts for our current graduates. We would be especially interested to know if you are employed in a company that hires mathematics graduates at any level, since we are seeking summer internship opportunities for our students and also occasionally look for individuals willing to come to campus to speak about job opportunities in industry for mathematics majors. Please let us know if you would be willing to participate in such activities.

    If possible, responses should be sent by email to:

    Current Address:
    Job Title and Company:
    Home Phone:
    Business Phone:
    Email address:
    Web page url:
    News item:

    If you do not have access to email, please FAX the information to 732-445-5530 (attention: Alumni Committee) or mail the information to:

    Alumni Committee
    Department of Mathematics - Hill Center
    Rutgers, The State University Of New Jersey
    110 Frelinghuysen Rd
    Piscataway, NJ 08854-8019



    The Mathematics Department would like to thank its alumni and friends for their past generous support of the Department. Gifts to the Department enhance our ability to compete for the most outstanding undergraduates and graduate students, to bring outstanding mathematics faculty as visitors to the Department, and to support seminars and colloquia. If you would like to help us by making a contribution, you can do so directly on the web at the URL by clicking on "Or choose an academic department:" and selecting Mathematics. If you would like to discuss various possibilities for a gift to the Department, please call the Department Chair, Richard Falk, at 732-445-2393.

    One particular high priority fund-raising project for the Department is the renovation of the seventh-floor lounge in the Hill Center and naming it the Wolfson Lounge, in honor of Ken Wolfson, former Chair of the Department and Dean of the Graduate School. An article about Ken Wolfson that appeared recently in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Newsletter can be found here. If you wish to join our effort to honor Ken, you can do so by sending a donation to the Kenneth Wolfson Memorial Fund (Account #7-34568), a special fund that has been set up for this purpose. In particular, if you were planning to contribute to the Rutgers University Capital Campaign, you may request that the funds go specifically to the Kenneth Wolfson Memorial Fund. The estimated cost of the lounge renovation is approximately $108,000. As part of the Higher Education Capital Improvement Fund, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences has already allocated about $62,000. Thus, to complete the project, we need to raise about $46,000.

    Ken was instrumental in building the Mathematics Department to the stature it has today. Renovating the lounge in the manner described in the FAS Newsletter article will greatly benefit the Mathematics Department and be a wonderful way to honor Ken for his accomplishments and dedication to the Department. I hope you will be able to help us achieve this goal.

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