Welcome to the SIGMAS Website!
This is the home page for SIGMAS, the Students in Graduate Mathematics and Statistics. The navigation bar at the top of the page is your main method of getting around.

If you've been directed here for Exam Sales information, please visit the Exam Sales page, and check out the most recent post! If you're looking for the SIGMAS Tutor List, or any other resources like Classroom AV Listings, head over to the Resources page. If you are like me (ie. weird) and like to read minutes of SIGMAS meetings, you can find them on the Bureaucracy page.

Finally, if you're a member of SIGMAS, and you're looking to invite people to a non-SIGMAS event (like an extra-curricular), just let us know! We can make it part of our "SIGMAS Goes to ____" event series! We always have a good time.
Website Update II: Electric Boogaloo!
Check it out; the website has changed again! This time, the major change is that all Exam Sales information will be posted to the Exam Sales page. I finally got around to putting Exam Sales on its own page! The other change to note is that there is now a pinned post on the main page, hopefully offering useful direction! Enjoy.
Website Update!
Observe that the navigation bar has changed! There is now (only) one page for Events (which is solely intended to remind us that SIGMAS used to have events), and there is a new Resources page, which shall be filled with useful links and resources and whatnot, so that one need not scroll through the entire News page to find a link (which is probably broken anyways, at this point).
Revival, News, and Notes
SIGMAS recently held a general meeting and made quorum! This means we exist! Visit the Bureaucracy page to inspect the list of new executive members and read the thoroughly entertaining (not) minutes. Look for SIGMAS to (perhaps) be somewhat more visible in the near future as we continue to hold social gatherings, run exam sales, and prepare tea and goodies for Tuesday Tea. Or at least, we'll be using the grad e-mail list to communicate information.

Private Tutoring: Here, we shall soon have the updated tutor list, current as of Spring 2014. For tutors, do not forget that the below restriction still applies.
Tutoring List
SIGMAS now maintains a list of graduate students who tutor, which classes they tutor, and how to contact them. The list can be found here. [This link was old, and eliminated.] Remember, you aren't allowed to private tutor for class that you're currently TAing for (be it marking, leading tutorial, or instructing).
Exam Sales
SIGMAS will be holding exam sales starting this week. We are planning on doing it Wednesday-Thursday 1-3pm for the next three weeks (Nov 28-29, Dec 5-6, Dec 12-13). As usual, we will be set up outside Math building Assistance Centre.
Teaching form
Graduate students who want to teach a course are required to submit a form signed by their supervisor, indicating that the student and supervisor have discussed the application. The main goal of the form is to encourage this dialogue between students and their supervisors about whether or not it is appropriate for a student to teach, given the student's current progress in their program. The form can be found here [This link was old, and eliminated.] and should be submitted to Carol Anne.

SIGMAS Seminar: Dennis Epple
Our final SIGMAS speaker, "The" Dennis Epple, gave a talk on October 28. The SIGMAS seminar will resume in the new year.
Three Gems of Combinatorics.

The three gems that you will be introduced to are the Binomial Inversion Formula, PĆ³lya's Theorem and the Lemma of Gessel-Viennot. Three theorems that have in common that their proofs only require basic facts from linear algebra and group theory, yet they can be used to find surprising and elegant solutions to a multitude of problems. A selection of such applications will be presented, including how to count the number of alcohols and why the determinant of various binomial matrices is 1.

SIGMAS Seminar: Garret Flowers
In October 21's SIGMAS Seminar, Garret Flowers entertained us with some knot-theoretic magic and taught us how to tie our shoes properly.
Stuff about Knots

In this thoroughly engaging talk, I'll begin by giving a quick introduction to knot theory, focusing on a variety of different knot invariants. In the latter half of the lecture, we'll focus on a particular invariant --- the second-order Vassiliev Invariant, and establish a nice geometric interpretation of this numerical invariant. Don't worry, the talk will contain plenty of colored chalk, computer animations, props, and perhaps some magic to keep you on the edge of your seat!

SIGMAS Seminar: Angus Argyle
Angus Argyle gave the SIGMAS Seminar for October 14.
How many? Estimating the number of classes in a population.

How many types of plants exist in a tropical rain forest?
How many kinds of interstellar objects are in the universe?
How many words did William Shakespeare know?
How large were ancient coin-based economies?

In this talk, I will discuss methods of estimating answers to the preceding questions. The audience will be invited to participate in an edible activity where the challenges of these types of questions are exposed. Finally, I will describe an estimation method that I have developed for situations where cluster sampling is used to collect the sample data.

SIGMAS Seminar: Ash Richardson
Ash Richardson gave the SIGMAS Seminar on October 7.
Automatic Mode Analysis; or, How to Make $ 1,000,000,000; or, Burn Your Stat 261 Textbook!

Data is now so overabundant that it is barely exploited. Therefore, simple, efficient, and very generic tools are urgently needed. Worse, society is largely ingrained with 1-d, linear, cause+effect thinking. We are taught to understand data via mean, variance, and in general, parameterized models. 'Quantitative illiteracy' of the masses permits the authorities to employ such anachronisms readily, at the public's expense. The recent failed introduction of "proportional representation" shows how the lack of public knowledge of "multi-modality" plays into the hands of established power.

Typically, real world data is high dimensional and multi-modal; the modes are numerous, and their structure is very complicated - "first and second order" statistics do not apply. In general, observations are taken from a general probability distribution. Mode analysis dates to Wishart (1969). Astoundingly, it is usually overlooked by scientists and engineers; few practical implementations are available.

We present an example of a general purpose approach applicable to most kinds of data. For a finite set of N points in a metric space we:
  1. estimate the pdf in a way that is consistent with the limit as N goes to infinity
  2. explain how a probability distribution can be interpreted as a hierarchical partition of space into distinguishable categories.
We will explain how this represents a starting point for analyzing most data, and how this kind of approach should revolutionize data understanding as it becomes commonplace. Some discrete, continuous, and complex math is assumed, so there will be tidbits for everyone.

SIGMAS Seminar: Christopher Duffy
Our second SIGMAS speaker, Christopher Duffy, gave a talk on September 30.
Firefighter! A survey of results on the firefighter problem.

We consider the following discrete-time problem: Given a rooted graph (G,r), at time 0 a fire breaks out at r. At each time step a firefighter defends some vertex that is not burning, and the fire spreads from all burning vertices to all adjacent vertices that are neither burning nor defended. After a vertex burns or is defended, it remains for all subsequent time intervals. The process terminates when all adjacent vertices to burning vertices are either burned or defended.

SIGMAS Seminar: Antoine Julien
The first live speaker at the SIGMAS seminar was Antoine Julien on September 23rd. He spoke about aperiodic tilings:
Aperiodic tilings are mathematical objects which were first studied as a recreation, for their aesthetic properties. One famous example is the Penrose tiling. It turned out later, that they could be used to model strange physical materials: the quasi-crystals. In these materials, the atoms are ordered in a very rigid way, but their position is not given by a periodic lattice (a fact which seemed unbelievable in the 1980's when such quasi-crystals were produced).
In this talk, I will try to present a few aspects of the mathematical study of aperiodic tilings. I will also try to show connections to different fields of mathematics, such as combinatorics, topology, or dynamical systems. Many pictures of nice tilings will be shown.

SIGMAS Seminar

The start of the fall semester means a new iteration of the department's graduate seminar, now renamed the SIGMAS Seminar. This year, the organizing committee (Josh Adema, LP Saumier, and Scott Lunney) has brought together a great slate of speakers, tentatively as follows:

  • 16 September: Benoît Mandelbrot (via TED)
  • 23 September: Antoine Julien
  • 30 September: Chris Duffy
  • 7 October: Ashlin Richardson
  • 14 October: Angus Argyle
  • 21 October: Garret Flowers
  • 28 October: 'The' Dennis Epple
The goals of the SIGMAS Seminar are to give students and post-docs and opportunity to present their research and general fields of interest; to spark collaborations within our community; to provide a casual environment for students to practice giving talks; and to bring together the grads in an interactive environment. It will be held every Thursday at 2:30pm in SSM A104. Watch this space or your inbox for updates including each week's speaker and abstract. We look forward to seeing you there! This week's abstract:
The speaker this week will be Benoît Mandelbrot and his talk will be on Fractals and the art of roughness. As we did not want to bother Dr. Mandelbrot and his very important research, we will rely on Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) to make this possible. This presentation is going to be short and will serve as an informal basis to initiate the 2010-2011 SIGMAS seminar. It will also present a good opportunity for the old grads and the new grads to meet each other (this is just a fancy way of saying let's all hang out and watch tv).

Mt Doug Hike

SIGMAS is organizing a picnic/hike up Mount Douglas on Wednesday! We will meet in the lounge (SSM A514) at 4:30 and then carpool from there. We will hike up to the top where there will be food waiting for us!

Please let Kseniya know if you are coming and if you can drive, so we have an idea of how to plan the logistics.

For those of you who prefer announcements in poem form, our Poet-Laureate Chris Duffy has kindly provided one:

This Wednesday come one, come all to be merry,
We're hiking a mount, so don't pack too heavy.
At 4:30 we'll meet and be back before dark,
from our relaxing amble through Mount Doug Park.
So pack up your picnics and put on your vest
and join fellow SIGMAS at the top for a rest.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, our unpredictable West Coast weather forced the cancellation of the hike. However, all that food did not go to waste. Thanks to all who came and had a good time at the impromptu gathering in the lounge!