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Public Lectures

The IMA Public Lectures are free and open to the public.

The IMA Public Lecture Series features distinguished mathematicians and scientists who illuminate the role of mathematics in understanding our world and shaping our lives. The purpose of these talks is to give the public a better understanding about how contemporary mathematical ideas are applied to important technological and scientific problems, conveying the significance and excitement of these applications. These engaging and informative lectures are designed for a broad audience, appropriate for middle-school students and older. This well-established series regularly draws diverse audiences of several hundred people.

Videos for past public lectures are available below. Please feel free to watch.


  2015-2016 Public Lectures
Arnold Family Lecture - "I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that." Linguistics, Statistics, and Artificial Intelligence in the Big Data Era
Lillian Lee, Cornell University
7:00 P.M., Tuesday, February 23, 2016
2-650 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Science fiction promises that someday we will have machines that talk to us. With Siri on the iPhone and Watson beating human champions at Jeopardy, is that future finally here? Not yet because getting computers to truly understand language is hard, even though most 2-year-olds manage to do it as a matter of course. This lecture will introduce the science behind language technologies – including the central role of probability and statistics – and illustrate why understanding human language is still such a difficult problem.

Lillian Lee holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Harvard University and is a professor in the departments of computer science and information science at Cornell University. Her research interests currently focus on the connections between natural language processing and social interaction, but also include computational social science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. She was named an Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Fellow in 2013, and her group's work has been covered in The New York Times, NPR's All Things Considered, and NBC's The Today Show.

Modeling Tsunamis and Other Geohazards
Randy LeVeque, University of Washington
7:00 P.M., Thursday, March 10, 2016
2-650 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St SE
East Bank, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis

Geophysical hazards such as tsunamis, storm surges, debris flows, and landslides pose a significant risk to a large fraction of the world's population. Mathematical models and computer simulations of these hazards are critical in developing a better understanding of past events, both recent and pre-historic. They are also used to assess hazards, issue real-time warnings, and help communities prepare – despite the uncertainties surrounding potential future disasters. This lecture will explore some of the ways that mathematics plays an important role in the development of models, software, and probabilistic hazard assessment.

Randy LeVeque holds a Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford University and is a professor of applied mathematics at the University of Washington. He is also an adjunct professor in the departments of mathematics and earth & space sciences, as well as holding multiple fellowships with the UW CoMotion Presidential Innovation program, the eScience Institute, the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics, and the American Mathematical Society. His research interests include the development and application of numerical methods and software for wave propagation problems. LeVeque started the Clawpack open source software project in 1994 and since 2004 has been heavily involved in developing and using the GeoClaw branch for tsunami modeling and hazard assessment.

  2014-2015 Public Lectures
  2013-2014 Public Lectures
  2012-2013 Public Lectures
  2011-2012 Public Lectures
  2010-2011 Public Lectures
  2009-2010 Public Lectures
  2008-2009 Public Lectures
  2007-2008 Public Lectures
  2006-2007 Public Lectures
  2005-2006 Public Lectures
  More Public Lectures
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