Thursday, March 8, 2001  8:00 p.m.

Founder's Hall 118

Professor Richard Tapia

Noah Harding Professor
Rice University
Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics
"Some Mathematical Insights Related to BMX Bicycle and Drag Racing "
Throughout his life, either as participant or supportive father,  the speaker has been involved in some aspect of bicycle or car racing. In this talk the speaker will share several experiences where his mathematical training assisted him in either appreciating, identifying, understanding, or solving a particular problem arising in his bicycle or car activity. Included in these examples will be an attempt at determining the maximum acceleration that is attained by today's world-class dragsters. A component of the presentation will be a lively video used to illustrate points and containing highlight shots of various family members.

Pictures taken at the lecture:
Professors Haag and Tapia before the lecture.

Professor Haag introduces President McCrone to Professor Tapia.

Professor Haag opens the lecture with remarks about Harry Kieval.

President McCrone introduces Professor Tapia.

Professor Tapia at various times during the lecture.

Professor Tapia's car.

Special Mathematics Colloquium

" If It Is Fast and Effective, It Must Be Newton's Method "

Thursday, March 8, 2001  4:00 p.m.
Natural Resources 101
Pre-colloquium tea and reception at 3:30 outside Library 56.

Throughout history mathematicians have proposed, modified, and tuned a particular new algorithm for solving a problem of  interest. When the tuning process ends, often, inadvertently and unbeknownst to themselves and others, they have obtained a form of Newton's method. The speaker will discuss several instances of such activity from the ancient Greeks to contemporary computational optimization.

About Richard Tapia (taken from a more complete biography)
Tapia is a mathematician and professor in the Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics at Rice University in Houston, Texas.  He is internationally known for his research in the computational and mathematical sciences and is a national leader in education and outreach programs.

Tapia's current Rice positions are Noah Harding Professor of Computational and Applied Mathematics; Associate Director of Graduate Studies, Office of Research and Graduate Studies; and Director of  the Center for Excellence and Equity in Education.

Tapia was the first in his family to attend college.  He received B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics from the University of California-Los Angeles.  Tapia has authored or co-authored two books and over 80 mathematical research papers.  He has delivered numerous invited addresses at national and international mathematical conferences and serves on several national advisory boards.

Due to Tapia's efforts Rice has received national recognition for its educational outreach programs and the Rice Computational and Applied Mathematics Department has become a national leader in producing women and underrepresented minority Ph.D. recipients in the mathematical sciences. Twenty-six mathematics students have received the Ph.D. degree under his direct supervision.

Among his many honors:  The Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS) honored Tapia with the 2000 SACNAS Distinguished Scientist Award at their annual national meeting in Atlanta, Georgia on October 14, 2000.  In September, Tapia received a 2000 Peace Award for Education from the Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Houston.  The awards are presented in association with the International Day of Peace, a day designated by the United Nations "to commemorating and strengthening the ideas of peace both within and among all nations and peoples."  Cornell University established a lecture series to honor Tapia and David Blackwell, professor at the University of California-Berkeley, in May 2000.  The lecture series will provide a forum for the research of African-American, Latino, and American Indian scientists working in the fields of mathematical and statistical sciences.  In 1996, Tapia was appointed by President Clinton to the National Science Board (NSB), the governing body of the National Science Foundation.  Also in 1996, he received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Mentoring.  He received the 1997 Lifetime Mentor Award from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.  Tapia was named the 1996 Hispanic Engineer of the Year by Hispanic Engineer Magazine, the first academician to receive this honor.  He was elected to the National Academy of Engineering, the first native-born Hispanic to receive this honor, and was given the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Award for Education, the George R. Brown Award for superior teaching, and named one of the 20 most influential leaders in minority math education by the National Research Council.  He was selected Professor of the Year by the Association of Hispanic School Administrators of the Houston Independent School District.