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Jennifer Quinn: “Mathematics to DIE for: The Battle Between Counting and Matching”

Professor Jennifer Quinn, 2013 Moody Lecture Speaker

On Friday, October 11, 2013, Professor Jennifer Quinn of the University of Washington, Tacoma presented the sixth lecture in The Michael E. Moody Lecture Series on “Mathematics to DIE for: The Battle Between Counting and Matching”

Jennifer Quinn is a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington Tacoma. She earned her BA, MS, and PhD from Williams College, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin, respectively. She has taught in and chaired the mathematics department at Occidental College before moving to UW Tacoma where she has just completed serving as Associate Director of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences. She has held many positions of national leadership in mathematics including as Executive Director for the Association for Women in Mathematics, co-editor of *Math Horizons,* and, currently, Second Vice President of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA). She received one of MAA’s 2007 Haimo Awards for Distinguished College or University Teaching, the MAA’s 2006 Beckenbach Book award for Proofs That Really Count: The Art of Combinatorial Proof, co-authored with Arthur Benjamin. As a combinatorial scholar, Jenny thinks that beautiful proofs are as much art as science. Simplicity, elegance, and transparency should be the driving principles.

More information about Jennifer Quinn is available from her website.

The lecture took place on Friday, October 11, 2013, at 7:00 PM, in HMC's R. Michael Shanahan Center for Teaching and Learning Lecture Hall.

Abstract

Positive sums count. Alternating sums match. So which is "easier" to consider mathematically? This talk is one part performance art and three parts combinatorics. The audience will judge a combinatorial competition between the competing techniques. Be prepared to explore a variety of positive and alternating sums involving binomial coefficients, Fibonacci numbers, and other beautiful combinatorial quantities. How are the terms in each sum concretely interpreted? What is being counted? What is being matched? Do alternating sums always give simpler results? You decide.