E-Net News

Pi Mu Epsilon hosts Karin Saoub

The national mathematics honor society Pi Mu Epsilon hosted Karin Saoub, assistant professor at Roanoke College, for a special guest lecture on Wednesday, May 6, 2015.

To a crowd of 31 Elon students, Karin Saoub, assistant professor at Roanoke College, gave a fun and interactive presentation titled "Snarks on a Train."

In mathematics, a snark is a certain type of mathematical object known as a graph. The picture below shows Saoub introducing graphs to the audience. Notice that graphs have vertices and edges. A snark is a special type of graph in which every vertex is connected to every other vertex by an edge and in which each vertex has precisely three edges emanating from it. There are a couple of other properties that all snarks also share, but these are slightly more complicated.

Snarks are often described as "mysterious" objects whose "properties and structure are largely unknown." For this reason, mathematician Martin Gardner named these graphs in 1976 after the mysterious and elusive subject of the poem "The Hunting of the Snark" by Lewis Carroll.

Saoub discussed in depth the salient features of snarks. She also discussed applications of her research in this area to computer science.  pecifically, Saoub's research on snarks can be used to determine efficient methods for allocating memory in computer software applications. To illustrate this process.  Saoub gave the example of assigning passengers to seats on a train. For example, if a certain Amtrak route is capable of carrying up to 200 passengers from Raleigh to Boston, what is the most efficient way of assigning them seats? Saoub demonstrated several approaches to answering this question, some of which were more efficient than others.

As advertised, two lucky students won door prizes.  hese were Kiley Shannon '18 and Carolyn Wright '16.

The event concluded with faculty advisor, assistant professor of mathematics Chad Awtrey, advertising some of the events the society will sponsor next semester. These include the 3rd annual fall pizza party and a special guest lecture by mathematician/professional musician Dave Kung (Saint Mary's College of Maryland). Kung's visit is co-sponsored with the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and with the Department of Music.

Dr. Karin Saoub (Roanoke College) introduces audiences to an area of mathematics known as Graphy Theory.
Door prize winners (left to right): Carolyn Wright '16 and Kiley Shannon '18.

Chad Awtrey,
5/15/2015 9:45 AM