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Pepperdine Math Students Present Research at National Conference in Washington D.C.
Four Pepperdine mathematics students presented the results of a year-long research project at the annual joint meetings of the American Mathematical Society (AMS) and Mathematical Association of America (MAA) that was held January 5-8 in Washington D.C.
Junior Kristen Anderson and seniors Ashley Burt, Will Cousins, and Brent Hancock all participated in the Joint Meetings Undergraduate Poster Session, at which nearly 300 undergraduate research students from across the country displayed posters and discussed their findings with the several hundred faculty and students in attendance at the session. Cousins' poster received an award of distinction, which is given to the top 10 percent of poster presenters. The award included a $100 cash prize.
The work of these four students was focused on various aspects of a fixed-point problem that derives from the Sinkhorn-Knopp algorithm, first introduced in the 1960s, for transforming (through pre- and post-multiplication) any positive matrix into a doubly stochastic matrix. There are a variety of applications that use doubly stochastic matrices, including algorithms used by Google to search for and rank Web pages.
Each student received a stipend and academic credit for the work he or she did while studying at Pepperdine during spring and fall semesters in 2008. Their work was funded by the National Science Foundation through the Center for Undergraduate Research in Mathematics, located at Brigham Young University.
The trip to Washington D.C. was supported by Pepperdine’s Natural Science division and the MAA. The students were joined by David Strong, associate professor of mathematics at Pepperdine, who supervised the students' work throughout the year.
"It was a lot of fun for me to work with Kristen, Ashley, Will, and Brent and see their curiosity, persistence, creativity and resourcefulness pay off with some interesting and useful results," says Strong. "We have a strong group of math and science students at Pepperdine, and Kristen, Ashley, Will, and Brent represented them well at this conference."
Upon graduation this year, seniors Cousins and Hancock will attend graduate school in mathematics and Burt will attend medical school, while junior Anderson plans to attend hospitality and management school upon graduation in 2010.
Learn more about the mathematics program at Pepperdine University by visiting the Natural Science division Web site.