Loyola University Chicago

Mathematics and Statistics

Colloquia, Lectures & Seminars

Tea and Colloquia (Fall 2021 / Spring 2022)

When: Thursday, March 17

Location: IES, Room 123

Lecture: 4:00 – 5:00 p.m.

Speaker: James M. Cheverud - Loyola University Chicago (Biology Department)

Title: Quantitative Genetics

Abstract: I'll talk about my field, quantitative genetics, and how evolutionary theory became mathematical. I'll also describe some challenges in the quantitative analysis revolving around negative semi-definite variance/covariance matrices.

About the speaker: Professor Cheverud is the Chair of the Department of Biology at LUC. His research focuses on evolutionary genetics, morphology, the genetics of complex traits and diseases in model organisms, and primate and mammalian evolution.


When: Thursday, December 2

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Ian Tobasco - University of Illinois at Chicago

Title: Effective Geometries in Elasticity: Wrinkles and Planar Kirigami 

Abstract: What do wrinkles and shape-morphing sheets have in common? The answer is fine scale buckling — a patterned response driven by mechanical instabilities enabling macroscopic shape change beyond bulk elasticity. This talk will highlight two recent developments in the mathematics of materials leading to new predictions for (i) the zoo of wrinkle patterns that form when a shell is incompatibly confined, and (ii) the aggregate deformations of kirigami sheets made by removing a lattice of holes. Behind both advances is the concept of an “effective geometrical description” in which the underlying patterns are “averaged out”. Systematic energy minimization leads to a limiting description in which the effective geometry can be found, sometimes even by hand. Our story reminds of the classical homogenization of composites, but with fine scale buckling patterns in place of a rapidly oscillating material law. Finding effective geometries is a key step towards a mechanical theory of shape change.

About the speaker: Ian Tobasco is an Assistant Professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science. He holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences at New York University, and a B.S.E. in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Michigan. Tobasco works at the interface of mathematics, physics, and engineering, where advances in analysis can lead to scientific breakthroughs in the lab and vice versa. Besides elasticity, Tobasco’s current interests include the search for optimal transport mechanisms in fluid dynamics, and their comparison with naturally turbulent flows.


When: Thursday, November 18

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Jacob Michael Schauer

Title: The Statistics of Replication: Considerations and Pitfalls

Abstract: Recent research has questioned the replicability of scientific findings in various fields, including medicine, economics, and psychology. This research has also revealed that there is no standard analysis methods for replication. As a result, it is not clear how we should be designing and analyzing replication studies. This talk describes statistical considerations for studying replication, and examines their implications. It identifies some surprising statistical strengths and limitations of previous research, including the use of statistical methods with surprisingly high error rates. It then argues that such issues can be avoided in future efforts by taking into account key statistical considerations in the planning and analysis of replication studies.

About the speaker: Dr. Schauer is an Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. His research interests include methods for studying replication, modern advances in meta-analysis, approaches to missing data, and data privacy.


When: Thursday, November 4

Location: Online (Zoom: HTTPS://LUC.ZOOM.US/J/81081283725 )

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Hakan Demirtas (University of Illinois at Chicago)

Title: Hybrid data generation

Abstract: This talk formulates a plan for implementing a unified, general-purpose mixed data generation framework that includes nearly all major types of variables (i.e., binary, ordinal, count, and continuous) when the marginal distributions and a feasible association structure in the form of Pearson or Spearman correlations are specified for simulation purposes via a mathematically unsophisticated but effective sorting procedure.

Most relevant papers:
Demirtas, H. & Hedeker, D. (2011). A practical way for computing approximate lower and upper correlation bounds. American Statistician, Volume 65, Issue 2, 104-109.
Demirtas, H. (2019). Inducing any feasible level of correlation to bivariate data with any marginals. American Statistician, Volume 73, Issue 3, 273-277.

About the speaker: Dr. Demirtas is an Associate Professor of Biostatistics at the Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics in University of Illinois at Chicago. His research interests include missing data, statistical computing, multiple imputation, stochastic simulation, and random number generation


When: Thursday, October 28

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Sameer Deshpande (University of Wisconsin)

Title: Simultaneous variable and covariance selection with the multivariate spike-and-slab LASSO

Abstract: We consider multivariate linear regression models in which the goal is to predict q possibly correlated responses using a common set of p predictors. In these problems, interest lies not only in determining whether or not a particular predictor has an effect on each response but also in understanding the residual dependence between the outcomes. We propose a Bayesian procedure for such determination using continuous spike-and-slab priors. Rather than relying on a stochastic search through the high-dimensional parameter space, we develop an Expectation-Maximization algorithm targeting modal estimates of the matrix of regression coefficients and residual precision matrix. A key feature of our method is the model of our uncertainty about which parameters are negligible. Essentially, this model enables us to shrink parameters to zero in an automatic and data-adaptive fashion. Our method is seen to substantially outperform regularization competitors that employ fixed penalties on simulated data. We demonstrate our method with a re-examination of data from a recent observational study of the effect of playing high school football on several late-life cognitive psychological, and socioeconomic outcomes.

About the speaker: Dr. Deshpande is an Assistant Professor in Statistics Department at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. His research interests include Bayesian hierarchical modeling, treed regression, model selection, and causal inference with applications in public health and sports.


When: Thursday, October 21

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Tung Nguyen

Title: Acyclic digraphs and an algebraic construction of cospectral digraphs

Abstract: Graph theory plays a fundamental role in science and real-life applications. It is the architect for the Internet, the world wide web, biological networks, utility infrastructures, social networks, and much more.

One of the most important and interesting invariances of a graph is its spectrum which is defined as the set of eigenvalues of its adjacency matrix. The spectrum of a graph is crucial for many applications such as Google search algorithms, non-linear dynamics, controller design, data analysis, etc.

Two graphs are called isospectral if they share the same spectrum. In this talk, I will explain a new algebraic approach to the construction of isospectral graphs. This is a simple construction that has strong potential to attack some problems in the non-linear dynamics of a complex network of coupling oscillators. This is based on the joint work with Anna Krokhine, Chun Hei Lam, Ton Meesena, William Jones, John Merzel, Jan Minac, Lyle Muller through the 2021 Fields Undergraduate Summer Research Program.

Time permitting, I will briefly discuss my recent joint work and further projects with Sunil Chebolu, Jan Minac, Lyle Muller, and Federico Pasini on some exciting investigations into the spectrum of certain graphs with inspirations from representation theory.

About the speaker: Dr. Nguyen obtained his Ph.D. in 2020 from the University of Chicago with a specialty in algebraic number theory. His recent research interest includes number theory, spectral graph theory, representation theory, dynamical systems, and computational neuroscience.


When: Thursday, October 14

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Mena Whalen (Loyola University Chicago)

Title: Clustering Panels of Nonlinear Time Series Examined Though Chicago Crime During COVID-19

Abstract: When do we think that a time series will change versus when the actual change in behavior occurs is a question many researchers and policy analyst pose. Advances in change point analysis can yield a more precise estimation of a change point, where in time is a time series is changing, but how do we examine and group multiple locations together based on their change points? I propose a methodology that clusters panels of nonlinear time series with change points and point anomalies while accounting for spatial characteristics. This approach groups time series together to identify latent structures that can help researchers understand when and which areas are changing together. This methodology is applied to Chicago neighborhood crime data during the COVID-19 pandemic.

About the speaker: Dr. Whalen is an assistant professor of statistics in the department of mathematics and statistics at Loyola University Chicago. Her research interest includes time series analysis with an emphasis in change point analysis, spatial analysis, data science with data visualization, and network models. Special topic interest includes health policy, law and policy change, and criminology. She is an ambassador and co-organizer of the Women in Data Science (WiDS) conference for Chicago.


When: Thursday, September 30

Location: Mundelein Center, Room 514

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Gregory Matthews (Loyola University Chicago)

Title: Shape-Based Classification of Partially Observed Curves with Applications to Anthropology

Abstract: We consider the problem of classifying curves when they are observed only partially on their parameter domains. We propose computational methods for (i) completion of partially observed curves; (ii) assessment of completion variability through a nonparametric multiple imputation procedure; (iii) development of nearest neighbor classifiers compatible with the completion techniques. Our contributions are founded on exploiting the geometric notion of shape of a curve, defined as those aspects of a curve that remain unchanged under translations, rotations and reparameterizations. Explicit incorporation of shape information into the computational methods plays the dual role of limiting the set of all possible completions of a curve to those with similar shape while simultaneously enabling more efficient use of training data in the classifier through shape-informed neighborhoods. Our methods are then used for taxonomic classification of partially observed curves arising from images of fossilized extant Bovidae teeth, obtained from a novel anthropological application concerning paleoenvironmental reconstruction.

About the speaker: Dr. Matthews is the Director for Data Science at our Mathematics and Statistics Department. His interests include statistical disclosure control, missing data methods, statistical genetics, and statistics in sports.


When: Thursday, September 23

Location: Cuneo Hall, Room 311

Lecture: 4:30 – 5:30 p.m.

Speaker: Rafal Goebel (Loyola University Chicago)

Title: The consensus and rendezvous problems 

Abstract: The consensus problem for a multi-agent system is about whether the agents (say, autonomous robots or individuals in a social network) can exchange information to reach a common opinion. A special case, known as the rendezvous problem, is about the agents asymptotically arriving at the same location. The challenges lie in the agents only being able to communicate their current opinion/location to their neighbors; in the communication structure changing over time; in constraints on the opinion/location of each agent; etc. The role of mathematics in this is, among other things, to prove that the given information structure and the chosen opinion adjustment/location control strategy works. Focusing on the rendezvous problem, the talk will show how elements of differential equations, linear algebra, graph theory, optimization, convex analysis, and switching dynamical system theory are involved in establishing convergence of the agents to the same location. The talk is based on joint work with Ricardo Sanfelice. 200-level calculus, differential equations, and linear algebra background should suffice for most of the talk.

About the speaker: Professor Goebel joined the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Loyola University Chicago in 2008. His interests include convex, nonsmooth, and set-valued analysis; control theory, including optimal control; hybrid dynamical systems; and optimization.


Tea and Colloquia (Spring 2021)

When: Friday, April 16

Lecture: 3:00 – 4:00 p.m.

Speaker: Liubomir Chiriac (Portland State University)

Title: On the number of roots of polynomials modulo primes

Abstract: Given a polynomial with integer coefficients, we consider the number of solutions it has modulo prime numbers p. A classical problem in number theory is to study how this quantity varies with p. We will discuss several explicit examples where it is possible to give a simple rule that determines the number of linear factors in terms of seemingly unrelated objects. In the process, we will touch upon some of the very first instances of the Langlands Reciprocity Conjecture. This talk will be appropriate for undergraduate and graduate students, as well as faculty in all areas of mathematics.

Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/89406733575


Tea and Colloquia (Fall 2020)

When: Thursday, October 29 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Dr. Matthews, Professor of Statistics at Loyola University Chicago

Title: Bang the Can Slowly: An Investigation into the 2017 Houston Astros

Abstract: This manuscript is a statistical investigation into the 2017 Major League Baseball scandal involving the Houston Astros, the World Series championship winner that same year. The Astros were alleged to have stolen their opponents' pitching signs in order to provide their batters with a potentially unfair advantage. This work finds compelling evidence that the Astros on-field performance was significantly affected by their sign-stealing ploy and quantifies the effects. The three main findings in the manuscript are: 1) the Astros' odds of swinging at a pitch were reduced by approximately 27% (OR: 0.725, 95% CI: (0.618, 0.850)) when the sign was stolen, 2) when an Astros player swung, the odds of making contact with the ball increased roughly 80% (OR: 1.805, 95% CI: (1.342, 2.675)) on non-fastball pitches, and 3) when the Astros made contact with a ball on a pitch in which the sign was known, the ball's exit velocity (launch speed) increased on average by 2.386 (95% CI:  (0.334, 4.451)) miles per hour.  


Regular Events

For more information, follow the links to the seminar pages.


Past Events

When: Thursday, October 22 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Wai Tong Fan, Professor of Mathematics at Indiana University Bloomington

Title: Identification and estimation for Markov processes on phylogenetic trees

Abstract: In evolutionary biology, the speciation history of living organisms is represented graphically by a phylogeny, that is, a rooted tree whose leaves correspond to current species and branchings indicate past speciation events. Phylogenies are commonly estimated from DNA sequences collected from the species of interest. In order to obtain accurate estimates in phylogenetic analyses, it is standard practice to employ statistical approaches based on stochastic models of sequence evolution on a tree. For tractability, such models necessarily make simplifying assumptions about the evolutionary mechanisms involved. In particular, commonly omitted are insertions and deletions of nucleotides -- also known as indels. Properly accounting for indels in statistical phylogenetic analyses remains a major challenge in computational evolutionary biology. In this expository talk, we consider two fundamental questions in evolutionary biology and information theory. Namely, reconstructing the ancestral sequence and the phylogeny in a model of sequence evolution incorporating nucleotide substitutions, insertions and deletions. We shall consider the case of dense phylogenies of bounded height, which we refer to as the taxon-rich setting, where statistical consistency is achievable. We give the first polynomial-time ancestral reconstruction algorithm with provable guarantees.


When: Thursday, October 15 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Gabriel Ngwe

Title: On Computable Numbers

Abstract: A real number is said to be computable if, given a natural number n, there is a procedure that can calculate the decimal expansion accurate to n decimal places. In this talk we give an overview of computable numbers, provide examples of numbers that are not computable, and give some surprising results concerning these numbers.



When: Thursday, September 24 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Nathan Lopez

Title: A random triangle takes up 15% of its inscribing circle

Abstract: I’ll explore some applications of calculus to geometry, specifically using optimization and the average vale of a function. The talk is aimed at undergraduates who have taken or are currently taking calculus 2 or above.


When: Thursday, September 17 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Dr. Seguin, Professor of Mathematics at Loyola University Chicago

Title: Generating a Developable Surface from a Space Curve

Abstract: A developable surface is one in which near each point, there is a patch of the surface that can be flattened without distorting it.  Such surfaces include cones and cylinders and appear ubiquitously in engineering applications and architectural design.  Given a space curve, there are two natural ways to generate a developable surface from it. These are the so called tangent developable and rectifying developable surfaces.  In my talk I’ll discuss how these correspond to endpoints of a spectrum of developable surfaces that can be constructed from a space curve.  The talk will contains numerous figures to illustrate the different types of developable surfaces I’ll be discussing.


When: Thursday, September 10 | 4:30-5:30 p.m. (CT), Zoom link: https://luc.zoom.us/j/92822043616

Speaker: Dr. Tingley, Professor of Mathematics and Department Chair at Loyola University Chicago

Title: Structures from Chaos in a NIM Type Game

Abstract: I will discuss an ongoing research project with two 2020 Loyola grads: Ian Cowen and Zen Nguyen. We consider a modification of the famous mathematical game NIM. In our game, a state can be described as a pair of positive integers. Some states are winning, meaning if the game is in that state at your turn you can play to guarantee that you will win, and some are losing meaning no matter what you do a good player can beat you. One can figure out which are which recursively. We wrote computer code to do this for a lot of states, and plotted the losing states in the plane. The result is a shockingly complex picture with beautiful curves. We then study those curves, discussing their properties, and giving various explanations for their existence.


Rataj Lecture: Undergraduate Colloquium (Spring 2020)

When: Monday, February 24

Reception: 3:30-4:15 p.m., Palm Court, Mundelein Center

Lecture: 4:30 - 5:30pm, Cuneo 210

Speaker: Lisa Goldberg, Adjunct Professor of Economics and Statistics at UC Berkeley, Co-Director of Berkeley's Consortium for Data Analytics in Risk and Director of Research for Aperio Group.

Title: Hot Hands: What Data Science Can (and Can't) Tell Us About Basketball Trends

Abstract: Is the hot hand in basketball a real phenomenon or a cognitive illusion? I will describe a data-driven approach to this controversial question and explain how data science, despite its great contribution to sports, can go only so far in addressing some of the difficult underlying issues.


Sarah-Marie Belcastro (Director of MathILy and author of Discrete Math with Ducks) visits Loyola

  • When: Wednesday, March 14, 2018
  • Reception: 4:00-4:30 p.m., Mundelein 204, pies & refreshments provided
  • Lecture: 4:30-5:30 p.m., Mundelein 204, Tiles on Surfaces/ Matching on Grids
  • Details: calendar entry / agiaqui@luc.edu / epeters3@luc.edu

Daniel Sternheimer (Rikkyo University and Universite de Bourgogne) visits Loyola

  • When: Wednesday, March 21, 2018
  • Reception: 3:30-4:15 p.m., Piper Hall, refreshments provided
  • Lecture: 4:30-5:30 p.m., Mundelein 204, The power of physical mathematics
  • Details: calendar entry / agiaqui@luc.edu