GGAM Newsletter for GGAM members

Fall 2010

Today's Editor: Naoki Saito

Today's Topics:

0. A message from GGAM chair

1. GGAM ranked high in the NRC survey

2. GGAM Mini-Conference is scheduled on January 15 (Sat), 2011

3. GGAM related seminars

4. Winter & Spring courses by GGAM faculty

5. Apply internal and external graduate fellowships

6. Free SIAM student membership and the UC Davis SIAM Club

7. A list of good books for publications and career planning for students

8. Conference participation

9. Summer schools at NSF Mathematical Sciences Institutes

0. A message from GGAM chair

Dear GGAM members,
GGAM welcomes 7 new graduate students to the program this year. These are a distinguished group of students, including a recipient of the UCD Graduate Scholar Fellowship (Charles Brummitt). GGAM now consists of 58 students and 87 faculty members. During the last academic year, GGAM welcomed 3 new faculty members:
Tim Ginn (Civil and Environmental Engineering); Albert Schwarz (Math); and David Woodruff (Graduate School of Management). Also, please visit their own home pages from the GGAM faculty website.

As for our continuing students, Jia-Ming "Frank" Liou received the 2010-11 UCD & Humanities Graduate Research Award in Mathematics and David Renfrew was one of three students to receive the 2009-10 Yueh-Jing Lin Scholarship.

By the end of Summer 2010, we granted 7 Ph.D. degrees (Zeke Vogler, Bradley Marchand, David Sivakoff, Julie Blackwood, Tyler Skorczewski, Michael Schwemmer, Igor Rumanov) and 2 MS degrees (Shaofeng Xu, Daniel Wuellner) in Applied Mathematics.

I would like to thank Tim Lewis (Math), Sebastian Schreiber (Evolution & Ecology), Julie Blackwood(student representative) for their service as a member of the GGAM Executive committee. Tim, Sebastian, and Julie were replaced by Albert Fannjiang (Math), Raissa D'Souza (MAE and CS), and Greg Shinault, respectively.
The continuing GGAM Executive Committee members are: Jim Bremer (Math); Alan Hastings (Env. Sci. & Policy); and Naoki Saito (Math). I thank the committee members for their willingness to serve!

Last but not least, GGAM did extremely well in the recently-announced comprehensive survey of doctorate programs conducted by National Research Council (NRC)! See Item 1 below for the details.

I am very interested in hearing what ideas you have for GGAM!
Please contact me or the GGAM Executive Committee at .

Naoki Saito

1. GGAM ranked high in the NRC survey

GGAM ranks high in a comprehensive survey of doctorate programs released on Sept. 28 by the National Research Council. It is the first survey of its kind since 1995. Before I list the rankings, let me provide some brief details on the survey methods and ranking criteria. The NRC committee assigned each program a range of ranks on five different scales: two overall scales, "overall-S" and "overall-R," and three subcategories, "research activity," "student support and outcomes," and "diversity of the academic environment." The results for each measure are expressed as a range of rankings reflecting the variability and uncertainty inherent in such assessments (i.e., 5th and 95th percentile rankings are given, covering 90% of the variability). To calculate the rankings, the NRC collected data on 20 key variables, grouped under the three subcategory headings. The NRC's statisticians weighted these variables in two different ways. In the first method, they surveyed university faculty across the country and asked them what factors, such as publications by faculty or time to degree, were most important in the quality of a graduate program. These "survey" weights were used to calculate the "overall-S" score. In the second method, they asked small groups of professors to rank a subset of programs in a particular field. Then they used regression analysis to work out which variables best predict the program rankings reported by the faculty. This set of weights was used to calculate the "overall-R" score. See the UCD news article, the Office of Graduate Studies webpage, and the NRC webpage for the further details.

OK, now, how did GGAM perform? Out of 33 US applied math graduate programs (see the above NRC webpage about these schools), we are ranked as

Top 3 Schools
Overall, Survey based
Princeton, UCLA, MIT
Overall, Regression based
Princeton, Univ. Washington, Brown
Research Activity
Princeton, Harvard, MIT
Student Support & Outcomes
Georgia Tech, Washington State Univ., Princeton
Univ. New Mexico Main Campus, SUNY Stony Brook, Univ. Maryland Baltimore County

* Average = (5th% + 95th%)/2, not necessarily the true trimmed mean.
In other words, we rank in the top 10 of the US applied math graduate programs in terms of Overall-S and Research Activity! Also, as the OGS webpage and their initial analysis show, GGAM did extremely well among the 51 UCD graduate programs surveyed this time.

There is a caveat though: the data for the survey were collected in 2006 and reflect the 10 years before that. Changes since 2006, such as changes in curriculum or growth, are not captured.

We do not know when the next survey will be conducted, but let's keep up our good work!

2. GGAM Mini-Conference

The sixth Annual GGAM Mini-Conference is scheduled on Saturday, January 15, 2011. Please mark your calendar. The conference manifests what GGAM is all about: a coming together of our students with faculty from across campus in order to facilitate fruitful collaborations. Sebastian Schreiber will be the lead organizer this
time. Thanks, Sebastian, for doing this!
Although attendance is mandatory for all 1st-year Applied students, all students are welcome to attend. In particular, any students who do not have official Ph.D. advisers yet are strongly encouraged to attend this.

The fifth Annual GGAM Mini-Conference was held on January 9, 2010 organized by Tim Lewis. In an informal day-long forum, 9 faculty members described their research interests, giving our students an opportunity to experience the broad directions available to them in applied mathematics. The departments and units represented at the conference included: Agricultural and Resource Economics; Biomedical Engineering; Computer Science; Economics; Environmental Science & Policy; Graduate School of Management; Land, Air, and Water Resources; and Mechanical and Aeronautical Engineering. A record number of guests, 78 people, attended the dinner, which followed the conference and was held in our large colloquium room. This was another opportunity for faculty and students to get to know each other.

Let's get together again for the GGAM Mini-Conference and dinner after that!
More details will be announced later.

3. GGAM-related Seminars

Applied Mathematics at UC Davis is nationally and internationally recognized. I would like to keep our vigorous activities and help you achieve your goals. Your active participation in one or more of the projects listed below is what will keep GGAM strong.

Fall (4pm, Wed): Joseph Biello <>
Winter (4pm, Wed): John Hunter <>
Spring (4pm, Wed): Roland Freund <>

Student Organizers: Lawrence Austria <>
Overseeing Faculty:
Fall: Steve Shkoller <>
Winter: Naoki Saito <>
Spring: Thomas Strohmer <>

Of course, there are many other relevant seminars. Please check the seminar page: .
Also, there is a list of seminars offered by the other departments and nearby schools. Please take a look at: .

If you have any suggestions, please send an email to .

4. Winter and Spring Courses by GGAM faculty

There are many relevant graduate courses that will be taught by GGAM faculty in Winter and Spring 2011. I asked the entire GGAM faculty about such courses, and here are their replies, listed in the order in which I received them.

MAT 204 (Winter 2011): Asymptotic Analysis
Asymptotic Analysis is the most important analytical tool of Applied Mathematics. It is incomparable in its practical usefulness for solving mathematical problems from real life, building insight, intuition, confidence and analytical skills. Briefly, the topics covered will be scaling, regular and singular perturbation methods, boundary layer analysis and asymptotic series and expansions applied to ODEs, PDEs and algebraic equations.
Note from Naoki Saito: This is your last chance to take MAT 204 per se. From the next academic year, MAT 204 will be absorbed into MAT 207 sequence.

NPB/NSC 287B (Spring 2011): Topics in Theoretical Neuroscience
Bayesian Modeling (ideally students should take 287A this fall as well).
This seminar course is designed to provide an in-depth foundation on modern research topics for students interested in theoretical neuroscience. Topics will differ from year to year and may cover subjects within but not limited to the fields of neural coding, learning and memory, network dynamics, oscillations, and probabilistic modeling. Fall quarter (287A) will be a more traditional course format and will consist of covering textbook (or similar compilation) based material at a rate of approximately one chapter per week, with students sharing responsibility with the instructor for presenting the lectures. Spring quarter will explore specific applications of the topic through student-lead discussions of important works in the recent literature. Strong emphasis will be placed on deeply understanding both the methodologies used and the neurobiological implications of the work. Grades will be based on class participation and on performance in presenting and leading class discussion.

MAT 280 (Winter 2011): Integral Equation Methods
Integral equation methods are one of the best mechanisms for solving boundary value problems involving constant coefficient partial differential equations. We will describe numerical techniques for the solution of integral equations, with a particular emphasis on recent developments.

MAT 280 (Winter 2011): Introduction to General Relativity
In this I introduce Riemannian and Lorentzian geometry, the Riemann Curvature Tensor, derive the Einstein equations of general relativity, go over the basic examples, and finish with a survey of my own work and the work of my collaborators.

EAD 256 (Spring 2011): Computational Molecular Modeling
This course provides an introduction to the numerical methods used in molecular simulations, including molecular dynamics and electronic structure calculations. The course includes hands-on simulations.

MAE 261 (Winter 2011): Gas Dynamics
This is a 4 unit course. Flow of compressible fluids. Isentropic flow. Flow with friction, heat transfer. Normal and oblique shock waves, expansion waves. Method of characteristics. There are homework and projects. The projects include some numerical coding.

EAD 220 (Spring 2011): Artificial Neural Networks
Mathematical models and learning laws pertaining to a family of neural nets including the Perceptron, Support Vector Machines, gradient methods including the Back-propagation algorithm, as well as un-supervised methods such as the self-organizing maps.

MAT 280 (Winter 2011): Global Optimization
Optimization problems without convexity properties appear in many areas of science, engineering, operations research, and mathematics. The standard methods of numerical optimization (interior point, SQP, ...) are local in nature: Even if the method has "global convergence", this just means it converges to some point, in the best case a local optimum. No guarantees can be made how far the local optimum is off from the true, global optimum. In the past few years, techniques for global optimization have been
developed, which give provably optimal solutions. We study the mathematics of convexification, spatial branching, domain reduction, and nonlinear cutting planes techniques, and discuss algorithms and software.

MAE 298/ECS 298I (Winter 2011): Network Theory and Applications
Here we will develop mathematical models of the structure and function of networks, including growth, vulnerability and percolation, and explore their applications to real world systems ranging from the Internet and power gird, to social acquaintance networks and biological networks.

ECI 257 (Winter 2011): Flows in Transportation Networks
MW 2:10-4:00PM. It's about equilibrium flow distribution in transportation networks, and covers quite a bit of network optimization.

5. Apply internal and external graduate fellowships

Please consider applying for internal and external graduate fellowships. Although they are very competitive, it helps you and GGAM tremendously. Even an application process itself including writing an essay will be useful for your future career.
An important note to faculty advisers: In past years the number of our students applying for campus fellowships has been ridiculously low. We need you to light a fire under your students to encourage them in this regard. Every student who brings in funding on his/her own helps our efforts in securing funding for the group as a whole.

Internship Fellowships (NOTE: Deadline is December 1st this year)

Travel Awards - Graduate Studies (deadlines vary)
NOTE: For the current awards cycle, applications are due to departments Friday, Oct 15.

Here is a very convenient list of nationally competitive fellowships sorted in terms of deadline gathered by North Carolina State Univ.:

A more extensive list with alphabetical order can be found at:

6. Free SIAM student membership and The UC Davis SIAM Club

Because UC Davis is an academic member of SIAM (Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics as you know), all UC Davis students (not just students in the Math Department) are eligible for FREE SIAM membership. For the benefits of membership, see: .

Also, UC Davis has a local student chapter: the UC Davis SIAM Club. On May 7-8, 2010 the UC Davis SIAM Club held its third annual Davis SIAM Student Research Conference. More than 60 conference attendees from UC Davis and CSU Sacramento saw 8 student talks and 7 student poster presentations on applied mathematics and related topics ranging from biology and computer science to probability, statistics, and networks. Keynote speakers Professor Jamie Sethian (UC Berkeley) andProfessor Hector Ceniceros (UC Santa Barbara) gave great talks followed by the panel discussion with our students. The conference was supported by SIAM and an NSF VIGRE mini-grant. More information including how to join the UC Davis SIAM Club can be found at SIAM Club webpage: .

7. List of good books for publications and career planning for graduate students

Although this information was disseminated in the last year's newsletter, I'm repeating this for new students with some updates.

Over the years, I found the following books very useful for my graduate students in terms of writing their theses and papers and advising their career. So, I would like to share these with you. In fact, I myself enjoyed reading these very much and highly recommend them.

On publishing papers and making presentations:

  • Robert A. Day: How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper, 6th Edition, Greenwood Press, 2006. ISBN: 0313330409
On general advise on your career:
  • Peter J. Feibelman: A Ph.D. Is Not Enough! A Guide to Survival in Science, Basic Books, 1993. ISBN: 0201626632
  • Richard M. Reis: Tomorrow's Professor: Preparing for Careers in Science and Engineering, IEEE Press, 1997. ISBN: 0780311361
  • Federico Rosei and Tudor Johnston: Survival Skills for Scientists, Imperial College Press, 2006. ISBN: 1860946410
On English usage, styles, and grammar:
  • William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White: The Elements of Style, 4th Edition, Longman, 2000. ISBN: 020530902X
  • Robert A. Day: Scientific English: A Guide for Scientists and Other Professionals, 2nd Edition, Oryx Press, 1995. ISBN: 0897749898
More about math specific career advice or writing:
  • Steven G. Krantz: A Mathematician's Survival Guide: Graduate School and Early Career Development, AMS, 2003. ISBN: 082183455X
  • Steven G. Krantz: The Survival of a Mathematician: From Tenure-Track to Emeritus, AMS, 2009. ISBN: 978-0-8218-4629-2
  • Nicholas J. Higham: Handbook of Writing for the Mathematical Sciences, 2nd Edition, SIAM, 1998. ISBN: 0898714206
  • Steven G. Krantz: A Primer of Mathematical Writing, AMS, 1997. ISBN: 0821806351
  • Ian Stewart: Letters to a Young Mathematician, Basic Books, 2007. ISBN: 0465082327

8. Conference participation

Participating in conferences may play a significant role for your future career. You must work hard to prepare your talks or posters, but it is really worth it in multiple ways. You will learn how to make your presentation materials, how to get your point across to the audience, how to interact with audience. Moreover, you can meet with all sorts of people in the conferences from preeminent scientists to your contemporaries from other universities.

We also have a small amount of student travel support if you present your talk at conferences. See the above Item 5 on Travel Awards. So, please consider to submit your paper to appropriate conferences. Also, I very much encourage you to discuss this with your adviser.

9. Summer schools at NSF Mathematical Sciences Institutes

Every summer, many of the NSF Mathematical Sciences Institute, such as MSRI, IPAM, and IMA(see more for the list of such institutes) organize graduate summer schools or special summer programs. Examples include:
- Summer Graduate Workshops at MSRI
- Mathematical Modeling in Industry Workshop for Graduate Students at IMA
You can also find many more summer schools on special topics at these institutes. Please consider and apply for such summer schools when those institutes start soliciting the applications (usually during the winter period).