Dept. of Mathematics
College of Arts & Sciences
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave., CMC342, Tampa, FL 33620
Office in CMC342(338), hours: TR 10:45 - 12:15 in CMC 209
phone (813) 974-9550
Here are my primary activities this coming spring:
Discrete Mathematics Seminar
Each semester, I am the organizer for the
Discrete Mathematics Seminar,
which is also a section of the Graduate Seminar (MAT 6939-001, CRN 14846), which is
open to graduate students for three hours credit (see below for details).
Each session, speakers speak about mathematical topics ranging from the theory of
computation to algebraic topology, from mathematical logic to graph theory.
Starting January 11, we meet every Monday from 2:00 to 2:50 in CMC 108.
If you are interested in making a presentation, feel free to
The Discrete Mathematics Seminar is section 001 of the Graduate Seminar (MAT 6939), a 3-hour
For further information on this course, see me.
The Graduate Seminar course is graded S/U, and counts only towards satisfying the
9-hour requirement for graduate assistantships; it does not count towards the degree in any way.
A student is expected to attend regularly and to give a seminar talk; this seminar talk
is developed by the student with the advice of a faculty sponsor, who is a member
of the Graduate Faculty who has agreed to assist that student with the presentation.
A student may enroll in the seminar if and only if the student is at least a second-year
graduate student in good standing who has secured the support of a faculty sponsor
prior to enrollment.
Upper Division Undergraduate Course on Symbolic Computation
This spring, I am teaching Symbolic Computations in Mathematics, COP 4313-002, CRN 21701,
TR 9:30 - 10:45 am in CMC 209.
Students will learn to program using the language Maple.
There will be no text; instead, information for purchasing Maple will be posted on
Canvas before classes start, and students will be provided with (free) Maple "worksheet"
files via Canvas.
The work of the course will consist of reading the worksheets, taking quizzes, doing the homework on the
worksheets, and completing the two exams.
Taking College Courses
I have written some pages, for math students (and teachers) in general, on homework, texts,
(Some of these pages may be of interest to people in other fields as well.)
To go to these pages, start at my main page on
taking college classes.
- Here is my Curriculum Vita, and here is
- I lecture a bit, but I also have students work on problems in class and on a lot of homework
problems; if you check my course evaluations (see the
you will see that students are usually okay with it except sometimes in lower division courses,
where students are not used to working on a few hard problems (as opposed to many little ones);
see Rate My Professors
for the gory details.
- I have other activities, and thus other websites:
- I am an amateur writer, with a website called
Scribble, Scribble, Scribble, Mr. McColm?
after a quote by George III to Edward Gibbon: "Another book, Mr. Gibbon? Scribble,
scribble, scribble, Mr. Gibbon?"
- I maintain a blog on mathematical crystallography called
The Crystal Mathematician.
- I am a political junkie, and maintain a map of the political spectrum, with commentary, at
Back to the USF Department of Mathematics Home Page
Back to the USF College of Arts and Sciences Home Page
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Legalities (© 1999 - 2015):
All material on this web-site is protected by U.S. copyright laws.
It may be used (and reproduced electronically, or as hardcopy copies)
for educational or charitable or other non-profit purposes as
long as pages are reproduced in toto and properly attributed.
However, please do not post copies of this material: put in links to
it instead (although external links to images in this site are okay,
as long as attributed).
For permissions, contact me.
Note: everything posted here is my responsibility, and I am not
representing USF in any official way - other than as one of USF's
This page last updated December 2015.
This site is under perpetual reconstruction, and please pardon the dust:
parenthetic asterisks indicate locations of URLs TBA.
No pending announcements.
I was trained as a mathematical logician, with an emphasis on theoretical
My specialty was Finite Model Theory, but I found myself working in combinatorial
games and random structures as well.
During the past few years, I have been working on geometry and its applications
to materials science and what is often called nanoscience.
("Nanoscience" is probably a misnomer, since it refers to the "meso-scale" of
microscopic physics -- from many Angstroms to about a micron -- in which quantum
effects are usually minor.)
Here are the areas ordered by my current level of attention.
As part of my involvement with reticular geometry, I am:
I have the attention span of a gerbil, so I am also active in ...
Philosophy of Mathematics, Science & Education
In addition to my website on
taking college classes
I have looked into the *philosophy* of these subjects, especially the problem
Physics, chemistry, and engineering entail statistical mechanics and other probabilistic
concerns, so I am still involved in probability and combinatorics.
I got interested in probability originally because of "zero-one" laws of logic.
I still keep a weather eye on my original research topic.
Old stuff includes:
A stochastic (or random) process may consist of many tiny processes; if they are
independent, then dealing with the entire process is easy.
But if all the tiny processes are coupled in some way, one has a more complicated
ensemble of coupled Processes.
Combinatorics is concerned with finite or finitary structures, often with counting them,
but also with describing them.
One uses enumerative combinatorics to count structures of given kinds to compute
probabilities (or vice versa in what is often called the probabilistic method).
One uses graph theory, poset theory, or some other structural theory to describe some
complex finitary object, and whenever the word "describe" appears, logic is never far
Logic is traditionally divided into model theory (describing things), recursion
theory (computing things), proof theory (proving things -- or being unable to
prove things), and set theory (the foundations of mathematics -- or cloud nine,
take your pick).
Computational queries can be expressed in model theory, just as algorithms can be expressed
in various formalisms.
Finite model theory is that branch of model theory concerning predicate calculus (and
variants) applied to finite models, and has its most compelling applications to
computational complexity theory and database theory.
Here are links to sites I maintain as part of my mathematical activities:
Then there is a site I maintain for the United Faculty of Florida and the University of South
Florida Community: the USF Chapter of the UFF.
And I also maintain two sites on my own:
- The International Union of Crystallography gave me a place to run a blog dedicated to
mathematical crystallography, the
- I also have a lot of pages about
Taking College Courses; the primary audience are calculus students, but it should be
useful to undergraduates in general.
The Mathematics Department offers a mathematics major for bachelor's
students and a M.A./B.A.
program that allows one to get both degrees in about five years.
In addition, we offer a Ph.D.
Our primary research areas are in various areas in analysis,
probability and statistics, and various areas of discrete mathematics.
For more information on these programs,
The Mathematics Department is also a partner in the new Master's Program
which involves the design and analysis of very large molecules, especially
pharmaceuticals, proteins, and DNA.
I have been elected to a 2-year term (for 2014 - 2016) to the USF Tampa Faculty
I have an agenda: faculty morale and retention.
If you have any thoughts on these two issues, please feel free to
Meanwhile, here is
the link to the Senate's Website.
The faculty of a university is the university.
Alas, many universities are controlled
by an administration which often behaves
like the shortsighted management of a business concern.
So faculty have must organize to protect their interests
and the long-term interests of the university.
Florida State University System faculty are represented by the
United Faculty of
Florida, which, via the Florida
Education Association, is a merged affiliate of the
National Education Association
American Federation of Teachers
(the latter being an affiliate of the
American Federation of Labor
/ Congress of Industrial Organizations).
USF faculty are represented by the local
chapter of the UFF, which also has an
I am the editor of the USF Chapter newsletter Uncommon Sense
and the web-master of the chapter
Here is an MS Word file for
a membership application to join UFF.
There are several major organizations in the U.S.A. concerned with
One of these, the Mathematical Association
of America has a chapter here at USF, which meets weekly.
Members get subscriptions to mathematics journals, plus other goodies,
and student memberships are inexpensive.
(It also looks good on resumes.)
Students interested in joining the USF MAA are encouraged to contact
Other major mathematical organizations include:
And there are more specialized organizations, such as the
Association for Symbolic Logic and the
European Association for Theoretical Computer Science.
There are several awards in mathematics research.
Here are some of the most important.
Probably the most important award in mathematics is the
the closest thing to a Nobel in mathematics, and clearly
set up by the Norwegians with an eye towards Stockholm,
which had had its chance.
This prize is relatively new, so many people aren't used
to it, instead they are aware of...
a junior achievement award.
It is awarded to researchers under 40 whose stellar work
shows the greatest potential, and is often misleadingly
called the mathematical equivalent to the Nobel.
Computer scientists have their own awards, the most
important probably being the
Speaking of Nobel's, the Swedish Academy has a sort of
mini-Nobel for those areas (like mathematics) not
covered by the Nobel, the
Meanwhile, the Israelis also have a prize in some areas,
including mathematics, the
Muddying the waters is the Clay Mathematics Institute,
which is offering $ 1 million each for seven
There are several writer's groups in the Tampa Bay area, and
amateur writers (like myself) can get feedback from fellow
amateurs (and occasional professionals) by joining in.
Groups in Tampa including the
Writer's Alliance, an independent organization.
And I am the editor of three newsletters:
the annual newsletter of the USF Department of Mathematics.
UFF Biweekly (scroll to the bottom of the page),
the electronic fortnightly newsletter of the USF Chapter of
the United Faculty of Florida.
The union produces this newsletter independently of the
University, and USF is not responsible for its content.
I have launched a
personal website on the craft of writing.
I run this site independently of the university, and USF
is not responsible for its content.
The Mathematics Department presents the R. Kent Nagle Memorial
Lecture Series, in which we bring eminent scholars to USF to
speak to the public about subjects mathematical.
For more information,
This series is one of many series that this and other departments
are supporting to reach out to the community.
For other programs of this kind,