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Tue Oct 01

Dynamical Systems

2:30pm - Vincent Hall 209
Relative equilibrium configurations of gravitationally interacting rigid bodies
Rick Moeckel, University of Minnesota

Consider a collection of n rigid, massive bodies interacting according to their mutual gravitational attraction. A relative equilibrium motion is one where the entire configuration rotates rigidly and uniformly about a fixed axis — all of the bodies are phase locked. Such a motion is possible only for special positions and orientations of the bodies. A minimal energy motion is one which has the minimum possible energy in its fixed angular momentum level. While every minimal energy motion is a relative equilibrium motion, the main result here is that a relative equilibrium motion of n >= 3 disjoint rigid bodies is never an energy minimizer. Since energy minimizers are the expected final states produced by tidal interactions, phase locking of 3 or more bodies will not occur.

Tue Oct 15

Dynamical Systems

2:30pm - Vincent Hall 209
Forecasting U.S. elections with compartmental models of infection
Alexandria Volkening, Northwestern University

U.S. election forecasting involves polling likely voters, making assumptions about voter turnout, and accounting for various features such as state demographics and voting history. While political elections in the United States are decided at the state level, errors in forecasting are correlated between states. With the goal of shedding light on the forecasting process and exploring how states influence each other, we develop a framework for forecasting elections in the U.S. from the perspective of dynamical systems. Through a simple approach that borrows ideas from epidemiology, we show how to combine a compartmental model with public polling data from HuffPost and RealClearPolitics to forecast gubernatorial, senatorial, and presidential elections at the state level. Our results for the 2012 and 2016 U.S. races are largely in agreement with those of popular pollsters, and we use our new model to explore how subjective choices about uncertainty impact results. We conclude by comparing our forecasts for the senatorial and gubernatorial races in the U.S. midterm elections of 6 November 2018 with those of popular pollsters. This is joint work with Daniel Linder (Augusta Univ.), Mason Porter (UCLA), and Grzegorz Rempala (Ohio State Univ.)

Fri Nov 15

Dynamical Systems

2:30pm - Vincent Hall 20
The mathematics of taffy pulling
Jean-Luc Thiffeault, University of Wisconsin

Taffy is a type of candy made by repeated 'pulling' (stretching andfolding) a mass of heated sugar. The purpose of pulling is to get air
bubbles into the taffy, which gives it a nicer texture. Until the
late 19th century, taffy was pulled by hand, an arduous task. The
early 20th century saw an avalanche of new devices to mechanize the
process. These devices have fascinating connections to the
topological dynamics of surfaces, in particular with pseudo-Anosov
maps. Special algebraic integers such as the Golden ratio and the
lesser-known Silver ratio make an appearance, as well as more exotic
numbers. We examine different designs from a mathematical
perspective, and discuss their efficiency. This will be a "colloquium
style" talk that should be accessible to graduate students.