Public Lecture

Title:  Swarms, Models, and the Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics

The public lecture will be given by Dr. Chad Topaz this year in the Potter Auditrium of the Rowe building at 5:15 on Tuesday July 18th.


Abstract:
Schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds of mammals, and even colonies of bacteria all show behavior we call 'swarming', but these groups are difficult to understand biologically and mathematically. I will give an overview of how social and biological interactions lead to swarming behavior. I will also discuss how mathematical modeling (describing the real world with mathematics) can be used to study locust swarms, which are the most massive and destructive swarms on Earth. Swarming is related to many phenomena of collective behavior in nature and society, where seemingly independent objects -- like neurons, metronomes, and even people -- start to act in the same way. This public lecture will be interactive and accessible; no technical knowledge is required.

Professor of Mathematics Chad Topaz (A.B. Harvard, Ph.D. Northwestern) is an applied mathematician at Macalester College. His research on complex and nonlinear systems has been supported continuously by the National Science Foundation since 2006. A versatile investigator, Chad examines problems in biology, chemistry, physics, and the social sciences through several lenses, including data science, modeling, analysis, topology, geometric dynamical systems, numerical simulation, and experiment... all with an eye towards understanding and predicting complex behavior.