Department of Mathematics

Van Vleck Hall, 480 Lincoln Drive, Madison, WI

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In Memoriam: Ken Kunen


Ken Kunen died peacefully on 8/14/2020.  He was born in New York City in 1943 and got his undergraduate degree at Caltech. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 1968, under the direction of Dana Scott, and came to Wisconsin that same year. He was quickly promoted to Associate Professor in 1970 and Full Professor in 1972. Except for a year visiting the University of California, Berkeley, and two years visiting the University of Texas, Austin, Ken had been in Madison ever since, retiring in the Summer of 2008. Ken was married to Anne Kunen and they had two sons, Adam and Isaac. 

His many honors included an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship and H.I. Romnes Fellowship. Ken had been an editor for the Annals of Mathematical Logic, the Journal of Symbolic Logic, the LMS Journal of Computation and Mathematics, and the AMS Transactions. He, with Jerry Vaughan, edited the influential Handbook of Set-Theoretic Topology. Ken also edited the set theory section of the Handbook of Mathematical Logic. Ken had given an enormous number of invited lectures in the US and throughout the world, and he had helped to organize many math conferences. 

In over one hundred and fifteen research papers, Ken had contributed fundamental knowledge to set theory and its applications to various areas of mathematics, such as set-theoretic topology and measure theory. In addition he had worked in the area of non-associative algebraic systems and used computers to derive theorems. His seminal textbook Set Theory. An Introduction to Independence Proofs has been an influential force and inspiration to countless numbers of graduate students and others working in the field of mathematical logic. 

Ken had been one of the central figures in the UW Madison logic group. He had directed the doctoral dissertations of over 25 graduate students. This includes many who have gone on to great careers and had students of their own, such as William...

Former Van Vleck Professor Chosen to Head Banff Research Station


Former Van Vleck Assistant Professor Malabika Pramanik has been appointed as Director of the Banff International Research Station as of July 1, 2020.  

She was in Madison between 2001 and 2004.  She joined the University of British Columbia in 2006.  A mathematical analyst, her research interests cover Euclidean harmonic analysis, geometric measure theory, partial differential equations and several complex variables.

Link:  https://www.birs.ca/announcements/2020-05-25/malabika-pramanik-appointed-director-of-birs

Is a District Gerrymandered or Not?


Lorenzo Najt studies algorithms that can build a large group of maps for a state, predict their outcomes, then compare those to the map that legislators selected. He works with UW–Madison mathematics professor Jordan Ellenberg as well as associate professor Justin Solomon and postdoctoral associate Daryl DeFord at MIT.

“What if we had a big bag of all the different maps that you could have?” Najt explained. “If we reached our hand in and took out maps randomly and then compared them to the one that you proposed, maybe your map would look extremely unusual in terms of its partisan advantage.

Link:  https://grad.wisc.edu/2020/04/23/mathematics-research-builds-better-ways-to-identify-gerrymandering/

Exploring the world of Atari, doughnuts and geometry


Autumn Kent offered a perspective of mathematical thinking in terms of Atari, doughnuts and geometry in the recent "Fueling Discovery" insert for the Wisconsin State Journal. 

Link:  https://madisonstatejournal-wi.newsmemory.com/?special=Fueling+Discovery

How Math tracks the Coronavirus


Much of the discussion about the coronavirus comes from mathematical models about how they expect the coronavirus to behave.  Professor Jordan Ellenberg has been discussing mathematical models of coronavirus in several online forums.

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