April 20th Math Club – Directed Reading Program

This Wednesday, April 20th, come hear about the experiences of the first cohort of students in the Directed Reading Program. In this program undergraduate students team up with math graduate student mentors to read about some cool topic in math.

Plus, if that is not already enough, there will be pizza.  Hope to see you all there!

Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, April 20, at 5:30

Where: PHSC1105



April 13th Math Club – Dr. David Plaxco and Math Education Research


David Plaxco

David Plaxco

Wednesday, April 13th, Dr. David Plaxco will talk to us about ways in which mathematics education researchers think about mathematics, and will illustrate these ideas with an exploration of some of the mathematics behind paper folding.

Plus, if that is not already enough, there will be pizza.  Hope to see you all there!

Here are the details:

When: Wednesday, April 13, at 5:30

Where: PHSC1105


Pentagonal Tilings and Undergraduate Research

The new academic year is now well underway and the OU Math Club blog is back.  Behind the curtains, the role of blogmaster for the next year has been taken over by me, Jeff Meyer.  I am excited to tell you about all sorts of fun and interesting math things.  If you know of something that everybody should hear about, email me at jmeyer at math.ou.edu and we’ll get it on the blog!

As soon as I agreed to run the blog this year, I knew exactly what I wanted my first post to be about: tiling the plane. The idea is simple, namely what are the ways one can cover the whole plane by repeating some sort of geometric pattern?

One type of tiling requires you use only a single convex polygon over and over again.  (Recall a polygon is convex if its interior angles are less than 180 degrees.)  I suspect you can find a convex quadrilateral that you can use to tile the plane.  If you stretch or shear your quadrilateral a little bit, would it still tile the plane?  I encourage you to think about this, and maybe try sketching it one a piece of paper.  Sketching tilings is a fantastic way to pass the time in a boring meeting.

So let me now ask you a question: Can you find a single convex pentagon that will tile the plane?

It turns out, this is a really hard problem.

German mathematician Karl Reinhardt in 1918 first came up with 5 ways, and since then a total of 14 had been found. That is until this past year.  Three researchers at the University of Washington, Bothell found a 15th!  They found it after a lengthy computer search.  The algorithm for the search was developed by Dr. Casey Mann and Dr. Jennifer McLoud-Mann and automated by undergraduate David Von Derau.


All 15 known classes of pentagonal tilings, the bottom right being the one discovered by Mann, McLoud-Mann, and Von Derau. (EdPeggJr./Wikipedia)

It is amazing that there are so many open questions here:  Is this the complete list of convex pentagonal tilings? If not, are there finitely many?  Might there be infintiely many?

I think this is such a fantastic story for two reasons.  First, the problem is so easy to state and understand.  You could explain it to grade school students.  Second, this discovery was the result of a collaboration between faculty and an undergraduate.  For all you undergraduates out there, keep in mind there are lots of tangible research questions.  You just need to talk to some encouraging faculty who can help you find one.  If you do, then maybe next year there will be a post here about you!

Take a moment and check more details at the following links:



The Guardian:

University of Washington, Bothell:


Summer 2015 REU (Research Experience for Undergraduates)

The blog is back!

We start with an announcement for students to apply to an REU opportunity at San Diego State University. Students spend a summer conducting research and are paid a stipend of $5000 for the whole summer while working with enthusiastic, like minded fellow students from around the country.

Deadline: March 6th.

More information here:


Undergraduate Summer Research opportunity

Are you looking for a summer research opportunity? The University of Nebraska, Lincoln offers several programs for interested students. Here is some more information:

“The program offers students an excellent opportunity to hone research skills and to experience life as a graduate student. Students will enhance their academic resume, work closely with faculty and peers, and have fun with social and professional development activities, all while receiving numerous benefits<http://www.unl.edu/summerprogram/benefits.shtml>. Students historically underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to apply. Due to funding restrictions, participation is limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents.


Students at UNL conducting research

All programs for 2014 are listed at http://www.unl.edu/summerprogram and include projects in Applied Mathematics, Bioenergy Systems, Biomedical Engineering, Chemistry, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences/Water Resources, Minority Health Disparities, Nanohybrid Materials and Algal Biofuels, Redox Biology, and Virology.

Our online application makes it easy for students to apply. Priority review of applications begins Friday, February 1 and all applications are due by Monday, February 17.”

Internship opportunity in supercomputing: Blue Waters internship.

Are you interested in petascale supercomputing? Or would you like to find out more about supercomputing and a possible intership opportunity? Then see below:

“Blue Waters Student Internship Program Now Accepting Applicants
Applications due Fri March 21 2014


Durham, NC — November 20, 2013

Shodor and NCSA announced this week at Supercomputing Conference
2013 the Blue Waters Student Internship Program.

Blue Waters Student Internship Program is actively seeking faculty
and students to participate in year-long student internship

Students in the program will gain experiences involving the
application of high-performance computing to problems in science,
mathematics or engineering.

The program provides a student stipend for undergraduate
participants totaling $5000, and a two-week intensive Petascale
Institute in 2014 along with travel to the Blue Waters Symposium
2015 for both undergraduate and graduate students.

This program provides support for internship activities at any
accredited degree granting institution in the United States.

Faculty who would like to mentor an undergraduate student can post
descriptions of available positions.

Positions can be intended for a particular applicant or opened to
all qualified applicants.

Undergraduate students should submit an application for

Internship positions and applications can be submitted at:


Graduate students are welcome to apply to attend the Petascale
Institute. They are responsible for arranging their own research
advisor; any stipend would be the responsibility of the research

Applications can be submitted at:


Blue Waters, supported by NSF and the University of Illinois, is
one of the world’s most powerful supercomputers and the fastest on
a university campus.

Up to 1 percent of the computing capacity of Blue Waters is
available for educational efforts aimed at preparing the next
generation of students and teachers and an educated workforce.

The goal of the Blue Waters Student Internship Program and of the
education allocation is to provide unique learning experiences for
undergraduate and graduate students across a wide array of
traditional and emerging disciplines.

In collaboration with Blue Waters, Shodor and the National
Computational Science Institute will provide support and content
for the internship program and Petascale Institute.

Shodor, a national resource for computational science education,
is located in Durham, NC, and serves students and educators

For More Information:


REU: Research Experience for Undergraduates (San Diego)

Another opportunity to conduct research, meet students from across the country and earn a stipend. From the program announcement:


San Diego State University is pleased to invite applications to its Summer 2014 Mathematics Research Experiences for Undergraduates.  The program dates this year will be June 15 — August 9, and the project will be in number theory, specifically nonunique factorization theory.

Please announce to any interested and qualified undergraduates.  The program will pay a stipend of $5000 and provide room and partial board for nonlocal participants.  The application deadline is March 3.  For a detailed program description and application instructions/materials, please see the program website: