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2011 - 2012 Academic Year

Abstracts & Biographies

Date: 15 September (Thursday)

Speaker: Dr. Steven Gianvecchio

Title: Detecting Bots in Online Games using Human Observational Proofs

Abstract: The abuse of online games by automated programs, known as bots, has grown significantly in recent years. The conventional methods for distinguishing bots from humans, such as CAPTCHAs, are not effective in a gaming context. This talk presents a non-interactive approach based on human observational proofs for continuous game bot detection. HOPs differentiate bots from human players by passively monitoring input actions that are difficult for current bots to perform in a human-like manner. The talk describes a prototype HOP-based game bot defense system that analyzes user-input actions with a cascade-correlation neural network to distinguish bots from humans. The experimental results show that the HOP system is effective in capturing game bots in World of Warcraft, raising the bar against game exploits and forcing attackers to build more complicated bots for detection evasion in the future.

Bio: Steven Gianvecchio received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary in 2010. He is a Senior Scientist at the MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA. His research interests include networks, distributed systems, network monitoring, intrusion detection, traffic modeling, and covert channels.


Date: 27 September (Tuesday)

Speaker: Dr. Adam Childers
Roanoke College

Title: Money, Mathematics, and Medicine

Abstract: In this presentation we are going to investigate the application of statistics, probability and mathematics to problems concerning crime, money and medicine. We will start with Frank Bedford Jr. and show how a chance discovery about logarithmic tables lead to a method for identifying tax fraud. Next we will see how a game show's misunderstanding of the gambler's ruin cost them over one hundred thousand dollars. Finally we will discuss how to make an impact on cancer research without stepping foot in a hospital. This talk will be accessible to all levels of students studying mathematics or statistics.

Bio: Adam Childers is an Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Statistics at Roanoke College in Salem, VA. He received undergraduate degree from James Madison University and his PhD from Virginia Tech. His research involves using a combination of mathematics and statistics to estimate and validate model parameters associated with small data sets. Outside of school Adam enjoys running, cycling and gardening.


Date: 18 October (Tuesday)

Speaker: Dr. B. Sidney Smith
Mathematician At Large

Title: Sailing Off the Edge of the Mindscape: Mathematics, Truth, and the Limits of Reason

Abstract: Are there things we just can't know? The extraordinary success of science since it learned to speak the language of mathematics has led many to wonder if we can -- at least in principle -- know anything we are determined to know. Physicists look for the Theory of Everything, computer scientists seek to recreate consciousness in a machine, and cosmologists strive to explain once-and-for-all how it all began, and how it will end. What few know is that mathematicians, in their own 20th-century quest for a "perfect" mathematics, found startling limits to what can be known, even in principle. This talk will explore the edges of the mindscape by examining key results in the foundations of mathematics and computer science, results that set unexpected limits on the power of reason itself.

Bio: Dr. B. Sidney Smith was trained at Central Washington University, Cambridge University, and the University of Colorado, where he took a PhD in mathematics. His particular fields of interest are set theory, logic, and the philosophy of mathematics. He is the author of the Platonic Realms website for college and popular mathematics, platonicrealms.com, and maintains a website for his other interests at bsidneysmith.com. He resides with his wife, Dr. Wendy Hageman Smith, in Appomattox county, Virginia, together with their two poodles Hypatia and Madeleine.


Date: 17 November (Thursday)

Speaker: Mr. Howard J. Kohl IV
Head, Warfare System Integration Branch
Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD)

Title: Use of Mathematics and Computer Science in Surface Navy Combat Systems

Abstract: What is a Combat System and what does it do? How does Mathematics and Computer Science contribute to the successful achievement of a Combat System's set objectives and requirements? We will begin by defining a combat system. Then we will walk through some example uses of Computer Science and Mathematics within these systems. Finally, we will discuss some generic technical challenges that face the Combat System community.

Bio:  Mr. Kohl is head of the Warfare System Integration Branch at the Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) in King George, VA. He received his bachelor's degrees in Mathematics and Computer Science from Longwood College. Since his graduation from Longwood College in 1997 he has worked at NSWCDD testing the Aegis Combat System until he transitioned to a Technical Management role in 2009. Mr. Kohl resides in King George with his wife Amy, also a Longwood College graduate, and their four daughters (Future Longwood Leaders).


Date: 2 February (Thursday)

Speaker: Mr. Brian Giardini
Computer Security Analyst
Northrop Grumman Information Systems

Title: Malware Analysis

Abstract: As the amount of sensitive information stored on computers increases, so does the desire for unauthorized access. Software developers construct malicious software, also known as malware, to gain access to this information in order to obtain personal identifiable information (PII), conduct corporate espionage, or steal government secrets. The development of malware has become lucrative and has evolved into a large criminal and financial industry. In this presentation, we will explore how malware is delivered to a computer, then dive into static and dynamic analysis of suspicious files.

Bio: Mr. Brian Giardini graduated from Longwood University in May 2010 with a BS in Computer Science. After graduation, Mr. Giardini became a computer forensic analyst in the public sector, with a concentration on malware analysis. Mr. Giardini currently holds several professional certifications in penetration testing and computer forensics.


Date: 28 February (Tuesday)

Speaker: Dr. Emek Köse
Assistant Professor of Mathematics
Saint Mary's College of Maryland

Title: Differential and Vector Calculus for Mirror Design

Abstract: Some simple geometry can make surprisingly important contributions to aspects of mirror design. In this talk, I will address the main problem of mirror design, present three examples and their simple associated mathematics: parabolic, rectifying and double-mirrors. Basic differential equations theory, vector calculus and some geometry are the only pre-requisites.

Bio: Dr. Kose is an Assistant Professor at St. Mary's College of Maryland. She received her PhD in Mathematics from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Her research interests include mathematics of imaging, optical modeling, numerical solutions of PDEs.


Date: 22 March (Thursday)

Speaker: Dr. Marcus Pendergrass
Associate Professor of Mathematics
Hampden-Sydney College

Title: The Mathematics of Music, and Vice Versa

Abstract: Most everyone feels that math and music are deeply related. Mathematicians and musicians know it. No less a composer than Igor Stravinsky said "Musical form is close to mathematics -- not perhaps mathematics itself, but certainly to something like mathematical thinking and relationship." And no less a mathematician than James Joseph Sylvester said, "May not music be described as mathematics of the sense, and mathematics as music of the reason?" In this talk we will survey the many connections between mathematics and music. Points of interest along the way include Fourier series, Markov chains, and L-systems.

Bio: Dr. Marcus Pendergrass is an Associate Professor of Mathematics at Hampden-Sydney College. He received a Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from the University of Alabama system in 1995. Since then he has worked as an applied mathematician both in industry and academia. He has published in the areas of stochastic processes and game theory, and he holds several patents related to signal processing. Dr. Pendergrass is also an active musician and has played with several local groups. He lives in Farmville with his wife, Dr. Leigh Lunsford, and their three cats.


Date: 10 April (Tuesday)

Speaker: Mr. Bobby Markey
Mathematics Teacher
Brookville High School
Lynchburg, Virginia

Title: Anyone Can Learn Math: A Different Kind of Differentiation

Abstract: Have you ever found yourself sitting in a math classroom and wondering "When am I ever going to use this???" or "How does this affect me???" or "Why is this important???". These thoughts are very common among high school students today. In this presentation, we will discuss how teachers can show students the hows, whys, and whens of everything they learn in a math class, as well as different ways in which we can present the material in order to make sure all students can understand what is going on. We will use examples from my geometry classes as well as show how we can use this same technique in other math classes. Finally, we will show how changing how we teach year-from-year can affect each classroom of students in a way that not only helps them understand mathematics, but appreciate it too.

Bio: Bobby Markey is a mathematics teacher at Brookville High School in Lynchburg, Virginia who currently teaches Geometry and AP Statistics. He is currently in his 3rd year of teaching and has taught Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, Computer Math, and AP Statistics during that time. He is a coach for the Scholastic Bowl team and coach of the PowderPuff football team. While a student at Longwood, he was the president of the Longwood Math Club, Treasurer of Pi Mu Epsilon, a Peer Mentor for the Mathematics department and Honors Department, and a 2009 recipient of the Longwood Citizen Leader award. He placed 7th at the 2009 National Problem Solving Championships and presented research on coordinated tutoring in the calculus classroom with Dr. Sharon Emerson-Stonnell at the 2009 Joint Mathematics Meeting in Washington, D.C. Next year, he will be teaching AP Statistics and AFDA as well as serving as the Virginia Advanced Study Strategies Lead Math Teacher for Brookville High.