MATC Mathematics Club
Lecture #91

Madison Area Technical College
Madison, Wisconsin


Spring 2009 Presentation #91 (December 4, 2009)

Professor John Koker, UW-Oshkosh, Dean, College of Letters and Science

"Odd Pie Fights"

Past Lectures: (You Took How Many? NIM Type Games), (a2 + b2 = c2 Says Who?), (Two men thinking about math recreations)

Abstract: Suppose that an odd number of people are standing in a room and each person has a banana cream pie that he or she will throw at the closest person. Assuming that each person is a perfect shot and hits the person they throw at, it can be shown that there is always a survivor (someone who doesn’t get hit by a pie). Some basic geometry will be used to prove this and other surprising results. Questions will be posed as well.

Biography: John Koker has been the chair of the mathematics department at UW Oshkosh since 2000 and is the current chair of the Wisconsin division of the Mathematical Association of America. After receiving his Ph.D. from UW Milwaukee in 1990, he spent one year as a visiting professor at Potsdam College of the State University of New York. John was the Co-chair of the MAA-WI section's high school math contest for six years. During his spring 1999 sabbatical he was a visiting professor at Kyungpook National University in Taegu, South Korea. In 2002, he received the UW-Oshkosh Distinguished Teaching Award, and this fall he will receive UW-Oshkosh's 2004-2005 John McNaughton Rosebush Professorship for excellence in teaching, professional achievement and public service. He is also part of a recent project aimed at boosting the math skills of Menominee Indian School District middle school students. Koker is in the top quarter of all mathematicians, based on the number of times his work has been reviewed by the journal Mathematical Review. His primary areas of research include the theory of rings and modules, mathematics education and graph theory.


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