Department of Mathematics

West Chester University

Mathematics Information
Office: Room 101
25 University Avenue
West Chester, PA 19383
Phone (610) 436-2440
Fax (610) 738-0578
Email: Department Chair

Spring 2014 Colloquium/Seminar Schedule

Each Thursday there will be a mathematics seminar (usually in UNA 120 from 3:15-4:15), while colloquium talks will normally be on a Wednesday (usually in UNA 158 from 3:15-4:15).

These seminars/colloquium talks may be by visiting speakers, WCU faculty, or WCU students, and are open to all interested students and faculty.

Send an e-mail to, if you would like to be on the e-mail list to receive advance notice of upcoming talks.

Previous Semesters: Fall 2013, Spring 2013, Fall 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2010, Spring 2010, Fall 2009, Spring 2009, Fall 2008, Spring 2008, Fall 2007, Spring 2007, Fall 2006, Summer 2006, Spring 2006.

Department of Mathematics
West Chester University
Spring 2014 Mathematics Colloquium presents

University of Dayton

Demonic Graphs and Undergraduate Research”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 from 3:15 to 4:15PM

UNA 158

Working with undergraduates on mathematical research has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my professional life. This talk will highlight some of the beautiful and interesting research done by my former undergraduate students on line graphs and pebbling on graphs. We will consider line graphs, some pioneering results in pebbling graphs, and pebbling numbers of line graphs. This work has inspired other students to investigate questions in these areas, and it has contributed to my research as well.


Aparna Higgins received a B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Bombay in 1978 and a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Notre Dame in 1983. Her dissertation was in universal algebra, and her current research interests are in graph theory. She has taught at the University of Dayton, Ohio, since 1984. Although Aparna enjoys teaching the usual collection of undergraduate courses, her most fulfilling experiences as a teacher have come from directing undergraduates in mathematical research. She has advised twelve undergraduate Honors theses, and she has co-directed an NSF-sponsored Research Experiences for Undergraduates program. Aparna is an advocate of academic year undergraduate research at one’s own institution. She has presented workshops (often with Joe Gallian) at mathematics meetings on directing undergraduate research. She enjoys giving talks on mathematics to audiences of various levels and backgrounds. Aparna has been the recipient of four teaching awards -- from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Dayton, the Alumni Award (a University-wide award) at the University of Dayton, from the Ohio Section of the Mathematical Association of America, and in 2005, the Deborah and Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching, which is the Mathematical Association of America's most prestigious award for teaching. Aparna has served the MAA in many capacities, including being a founding member of, and then chairing, the Committee on Student Chapters, which helped create and maintain Student Chapters, provided support to Sections for student activities and provided appropriate programming for undergraduates at national meetings. Aparna is Director of Project NExT (New Experiences in Teaching), a professional development program of the MAA for new or recent Ph.D.s in the mathematical sciences. Project NExT addresses all aspects of an academic career: improving the teaching and learning of mathematics, engaging in research and scholarship, and participating in professional activities. It also provides the participants with a network of peers and mentors as they assume these responsibilities. Aparna has served as President of the Ohio Section, and has served on several committees of the Ohio Section.


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Department of Mathematics
West Chester University
Spring 2014 Mathematics Colloquium presents
Professor Ken Ono
Emory University


Beautiful formulas of Euclid,


Rogers and Ramanujan: 


Fragments of a theory

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 from 3:20 to 4:15PM
UNA 158


Abstract: The “golden ratio” is one of the most intriguing constants in mathematics. It has a beautiful description in terms of a continued fraction. In his first letter to G. H. Hardy, Ramanujan hinted at a theory of continued fractions, which greatly expands on this classical observation. He offered shocking evaluations which Hardy described as...

“These formulas defeated me completely...they could only be written down by a mathematician of the highest class. They must be true because no one would have the imagination to invent them”. - G. H. Hardy

Ramanujan had a secret device, two power series identities which were independently discovered previously by Rogers. The two Rogers-Ramanujan identities are now ubiquitous in mathematics.

It turns out that these identities and Ramanujan’s theory of evaluations are hints of a much larger theory. In joint work with Michael Griffin and Ole Warnaar, the author has discovered a rich framework of Rogers-Ramanujan identities, one which comes equipped with a beautiful theory of algebraic numbers. The story blends the theory of Hall-Littlewood polynomials, modular forms, and the representation theory of Kac-Moody affine Lie algebras.

Ken Ono received his BA from the University of Chicago in 1989, and his PhD in 1993 at UCLA where his advisor was Basil Gordon.

Ono's contributions include several monographs and over 140 research and popular articles in number theory, combinatorics, and algebra. He is considered to be an expert in the theory of integer partitions and modular forms. In 2000 he 'greatly' expanded Ramanujan's theory of partition congruences, and in work with Kathrin Bringmann he has made important contributions to the theory of Maass forms, functions which include Ramanujan's mock theta functions as examples. In 2007 Don Zagier gave a Seminar Bourbaki address on the work of Bringmann, Ono, and Zwegers on the mock theta functions. The 2009 SASTRA Ramanujan Prize, awarded to a young mathematician under the age of 32, has been awarded to Kathrin Bringmann for this joint work with Ono. In 2012 Ono made world news for his work proving the last open conjectures contained in Ramanujan's enigmatic death-bed letter to G. H. Hardy.

Ono has received many awards for his research. In April 2000 he received the Presidential Career Award (PECASE) from Bill Clinton in a ceremony at the White House, and in June 2005 he received the National Science Foundation Director's Distinguished Teaching Scholar Award at the National Academy of Science. He has also won a Sloan Fellowship, a Packard Fellowship, and a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 2012 he became a fellow of the American Mathematical Society.


All are welcome to join us for tea in Students Lounge after the talk.

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West Chester University
Spring 2014 Mathematics Colloquium
Dalhousie University

“Sum Strategic Solutions”
Wednesday, March 26, 2014 from 3:15 to 4:15PM
UNA 158

"Last player to move, wins!" games form a nice mathematical structure that allows humans to find good strategies from general principles in complicated situations. We'll look at NIM (and variants as found on Sesame Street) Snort and Maze and discover the best, good, and very, very good (respectively) strategies that should allow a player to win reasonably often.

Richard Nowakowski received his Ph.D. in 1978 from the University of Calgary under the direction of Richard Guy. During his time in Calgary he met John H. Conway and Elwyn Berlekamp whilst they were developing the theory of combinatorial games. After his Ph.D. he obtained a one-year position at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Since 1992, he has been a professor of mathematics at Dalhousie University. Dr. Nowakowski has written over 100 research articles on games, pursuit games on graphs, and graphs. Additionally, he has coauthored two books: "Lessons in Play" and "Cops and Robbers". He cites his most valuable lesson learned as “be careful what you call things”.

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Department of Mathematics
West Chester University
Mathematics Colloquium

Minimal Solutions to Euler’s Six-Squares Problem”
Professor Hal Switkay
West Chester University
3:20-4:10, UNA 158
April 9, 2014

We provide an algorithm to generate minimal solutions to Euler’s six-squares problem. The method makes use of the theta series of the square lattice, the two-dimensional integer lattice. We also consider applications to generalizations of Euler’s problem.

This talk should be easily accessible to undergraduates.

Hal M. Switkay grew up in Philadelphia, PA. He earned his B.A. and M.A. in mathematics at the University of Pennsylvania with a minor in philosophy, and his Ph.D. in mathematics at Lehigh University in the study of set theory. After graduation, his interests shifted towards exceptional mathematics, symmetry, lattices, groups, higher-dimensional geometry, voting, statistics, and the sensible communication of abstract information. He has taught mathematics, from remedial to advanced, has done public speaking, is a musician and composer, and has earned certification as a teacher of Tai Chi Easy and as a practitioner of reiki and Thai massage. He has earned a certificate from West Chester University’s graduate program in applied statistics, and is currently enrolled in West Chester University’s graduate certificate program in business. His business card lists the following interests: mathematics; music; philosophy; health and wellness.

All are welcome to join for tea in Students Lounge after the talk.

For further information e-mail or




Note: Talks will be added to the schedule throughout the semester. Check back for updates.