Dept. of Mathematics
College of Arts & Sciences
University of South Florida
4202 E. Fowler Ave., CMC342, Tampa, FL 33620
Office in CMC342(338), hours: M 1 - 1:50, TWR 2 - 2:50
phone (813) 974-9550
It seems that USF created a gmail account for a lot of faculty -- without even telling us.
I have just discovered that I had this spurious account, and that people had been sending
stuff to me at that account ever since 2008.
I apologize for not responding to messages sent to that account; no one even told me
I am working to get this account deleted, but meanwhile it is haunting Blackboard.
Please send email to me at my regular USF account, email@example.com.
Here are my primary activities this coming fall:
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 86227) open to graduate students for
three hours credit (see me for details).
Each session, speakers speak about mathematical topics ranging from the theory of
computation to algebraic topology, from mathematical logic to graph theory; for a
sample, see the
announcement page for Spring 2013.
Starting August 26, we meet every Monday from 3:05 to 3:55 in CMC 120; contrary to the
Registar's posting on OASIS, we do not meet on Wednesdays.
If you are interested in making a presentation, feel free to
Upper Division Undergraduate Course on Modern Geometry
This fall, I am teaching
Modern Geometry, MTG 4214-001, CRN 93254,
TR 12:30 pm - 1:45 pm in CMC 118.
The text is
Geometry (2nd ed.), by David Brannan, Matthew Esplen, and Jeremy Gray, and published by
Cambridge University Bookstore.
We will also use selected sections from Thomas Sibley's
The Geometric Viewpoint,
available free (thank you, Professor Sibley).
Further announcements will be linked to this page later this summer.
This course will focus on ``analytic geometry'', and thus be more readily applicable to
analysis, algebra, and topology, as well as to mathematical and computational fields in
natural science and engineering.
All sufficiently prepared students are welcome.
The USF and state catalogues are sort of confused, so here are the prerequisites for this
In order to take this course, you must already have taken Engineering Calculus III
(MAC 2283) or Calculus III (MAC 2313) or equivalent, and also have taken Linear Algebra
(MAS 3105) or equivalent.
There will be group theory in this course, but we will introduce the group theory that we
will need (in this day and age, natural scientists and engineers really need to know their
The course will consist of a study of 2- and 3-dimensional space, mostly Euclidean from
a vector-ish point of view.
We will look at the vector-and-matrix operations (mostly ``affine geometry'') and at
figures on planes and in space.
We will conclude with a look at 2-dimensional examples of elliptic and hyperbolic geometry.
Will there be proofs in this course?
Well, a proof is merely a verification that something is correct.
In 2002, a
study commissioned by the U. S. Chamber of Commerce
concluded that software bugs alone cost the U. S. economy 0.6 % of the total Gross National
Extending that to design errors in cars, planes, bridges, electrical systems, chemical
plants, etc., etc., it's a safe bet that errors cost us hundreds of billions a year --
not counting human misery, injuries, and lives lost.
So yes, under the heading of ``how not to get fired,'' we will talk about verification
techniques, and practice a few.
Teaching Seminar -- for Faculty, and for Students Interested in Education
I am continuing the
monthly seminar on teaching mathematics in college.
All faculty and students interested in pedagogical issues are welcome.
For more information,
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
- 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
Back to the USF Home page
Legalities (© 1999 - 2013):
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 August 2013.
This site is under perpetual reconstruction, and please pardon the dust:
parenthetic asterisks indicate locations of URLs TBA.
2014 is the Year of Crystallography
The United Nations General Assembly has decided that 2014 is the
International Year of Crystallography.
This would be a good year to look at the mathematical foundations of crystallography, and to look
forward to how mathematics may be used in crystal design as well as crystal analysis.
For more news, see the International Union of
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.
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,