Monthly Archives: October 2018

Privacy and Illegal Numbers: The Mathematics of Encryption

Date: October 25, 2018
Speaker: Charlie Meyers
Title: Privacy and Illegal Numbers: The Mathematics of Encryption

Abstract: Did you know that hundreds of people use the Internet everyday for everything from e-commerce to sharing spicy memes with friends? One of the technologies that underpins this is encryption– the tool that allows data to be privately shared between two endpoints. We will briefly talk about the history of encryption from the Caesar cipher to the enigma machine before delving into modern cryptographic systems. In particular, we will look at how credit cards are secured, how websites secure traffic between host and users, the ins-and-outs of public key cryptography, and its uses in email and instant messaging (like PGP, Signal, or Whatsapp). This talk will be given by a graduate of the NYCCT math program and current student at the Graduate Center’s MS in Data Science program. We will spend the last 20 minutes discussing graduate school, the NYCCT math program (from the perspective of a graduate), and employment tips.

Have you ever considered being a seismologist?

Date: October 18, 2018
Speaker: Josh Russell
Title: Have you ever considered being a seismologist?

Abstract: Seismology is the perfect mix of complex wave mechanics, high performance computing, and fieldwork. Geophysicists travel the world to exotic places deploying instruments to monitor Earth’s physical processes such as volcanoes, active faults, and even glaciers. For my current research, I study seismic waves that travel through Earth’s mantle and are recorded by seismometers on the seafloor. We use these signals to create images of Earth’s mantle miles below the surface, similar to a CAT scan, to better understand the elastic properties and dynamic processes of Earth’s tectonic plates and the underlying asthenosphere. My experiences as an IRIS and RESESS intern were crucial in my decision to pursue a PhD in the Earth Sciences. If you enjoy physics and computer programming and are excited by the idea of working outdoors, then geophysics might be for you!

Cooperation in the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma

Date: October 11, 2018
Speaker: Dr. Johann Thiel
Title: Cooperation in the Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma

Abstract: Suppose that two bank robbers are caught by the police after a heist. They are placed into separate rooms with no means of communication and given two options: confess to the crime, or blame the other person. If both robbers confess, the judge will be merciful and each will be given a 2-year sentence. If both blame the each other, they will be each be given a harsher 5-year sentence. If one confesses and the other does not, the one that confesses will get a 10-year sentence and the other one will go free. If you were in this situation, what would you do? This is known as the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

The Prisoner’s Dilemma is an interesting game that suggests that a rational individual’s best option is to avoid cooperating with others, even though it may cause more harm. While this game may be completely analyzed when played once, what happens if the game is played repeatedly by two individuals? Is there a strategy to improve one’s overall performance? Can this give rise to cooperation? We will examine this Iterated Prisoner’s Dilemma with some computer simulations.