Math 501: AIM Student Seminar Course
Instructor: Silas Alben
Email: alben at
Office: East Hall 4858, tel. 734-647-5518

We will have four main activities this year:
1. Interviews with AIM Research seminar speakers.
2. Faculty Research Portraits.
3. Lectures, research advice, and career advice from me and others.
4. 25 minute presentations by 2nd years on a potential research topic or area. Could be work by a U of M. professor, or from another source. Should be computer slides, e.g. made using Powerpoint (.ppt), Latex package Beamer (.pdf), or Keynote (.pdf). One possible talk structure:

  1. Background (e.g. history of the area, with references to papers)
  2. Key concepts (definitions, equations, parameters, etc.) with examples
  3. Recent results from the literature (theoretical, computational, experimental, etc., with references to papers)
  4. Open directions or questions (optional: only if you know of them)

Each term you are required to attend at least nine of the AIM Research Seminars, Fridays 3-3:50 p.m., and all of the meetings of the 501 class.


History and Culture of Applied Math

History and Mission of the AIM Program at Michigan
The Flowering of Applied Mathematics in America by Peter Lax
Education of Applied Mathematicians by C.C. Lin
On the role of applied mathematics
by C.C Lin
An Applied Mathematician's Apology by John Miles
An Applied Mathematician's Apology
by Bruce Henry

An Applied Mathematician's Apology
by G.I. Taylor
(in Appendix A)
Mathematics is applied by everyone except applied mathematicians by David P. Wilson
The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences by Eugene Wigner 
Applied Mathematicians - Who are we, and what do we do? Slides by Greg Fasshauer
The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics, Ed. Nicholas J. Higham
SIAM Review Archives

General Research and Career Advice

Career Advice from Terry Tao and others
How to to get a Ph.D. in mathematics in a timely fashion by Sara C. Billey
AMS blogs on graduate school
How to Survive as a [CS] Graduate Student slides by Pereira et al.
Ten things I did wrong in graduate school slides by Greg Morrisett
Career advice from Science magazine
Career toolkit from Nature magazine
Advice from the Chronicle of Higher Education

Specific Research and Career Advice

How to Choose a Research Topic from Researcher's Blog
Finding a Research Topic slides by Janie Irwin (CSE)
In Praise of Lectures by T.W. Korner
Advice on Attending Math Conferences by Katharine Ott
I've passed my quals, now what? by Mark Tomforde
The Care and Feeding of Advisors slides by Stephen Chong
Robert Krasny's list of Fellowships, Workshops, etc. for students and postdocs
Caltech list of fellowships for international students
Michigan list of fellowships for international students
NSF GRFP advice from panelists
NSF Graduate Research Fellowhip advice from Alex Lang

Procrastination, Perfectionism, and Time Management

Overcoming Procrastination and Writer's Block from U. Chicago
Overcoming Procrastination slides from London School of Economics
Time Management youtube video by Randy Pausch  
Time Management slides by Randy Pausch
Time Management slides from Iowa State
Getting Past Perfectionism from Princeton
(Thesis) Writing strategy slides by Alexis Shotwell

Finding a Postdoc and Funding

Finding a postdoctoral position in mathematics by Lauren Williams
Tips for writing a research proposal by Katrin Wehrheim
SIAM: Finding a postdoc

Giving Talks

The Craft of Scientific Presentations slides
Mathematicians Must Speak slides by Gerda de Vries
How to Give a Talk slides by Ramesh Raskar
Tips on Giving Math Talks by Jordan Ellenberg
Technically Speaking videos from Denison University
Presentation Advice by Joseph Gallian

Writing Papers

How to write a paper slides - MESA
How to write a great research paper slides by Simon Peyton Jones (more for conference papers but many good ideas for journal papers)
Whitesides' Group: Writing a Paper

Literature search

Web of Science Basics
MathSciNet Tutorial
Using Google Scholar

Some Applied Math topics

Trefethen's list of 13 classic papers in numerical analysis (see also the longer list, item [3] in this link)
Cornell CS 722 / Math 726: Classic Papers in Applied Math
The Principle of Similitude by Lord Rayleigh
Dimensional Analysis notes by Douglas Hundley
The Princeton Companion to Applied Mathematics, Ed. Nicholas J. Higham
The Princeton Companion to Mathematics, see Part VII. The Influence of Mathematics

Winter 2019 Schedule:

Jan. 11: Interview with Prof. Karthik Duraisamy, Grad school advice (Morrisset)
Jan. 18: Interview with Prof. Mattia Gazzola, Grad school advice (Morrisset)
Jan. 25:
Interview with Dr. Raymundo Navarrete, Care and Feeding of Advisors (Chong)
Feb. 1: Interview with Prof. Shai Revzen, Care and Feeding of Advisors (Chong)
Feb. 8: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Zaher Hani
Feb. 15: Interview with Prof. Jordan Horowitz, Faculty Portrait: Prof. Silas Alben
Feb. 22: UM Library resources (Samuel Hansen), Interview with Prof. Monika Nitsche
Mar. 1: Joy Pehlke (Wolverine Wellness)
Mar. 8: Winter Break
Mar. 15: AIM Student Forum
Mar. 22: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Divakar Viswanath
Mar. 29: Canceled
Apr. 5: Scientific Presentations (Alley)
Apr. 12: Math talks (de Vries)
Apr. 19:
Time Management (Anding), Procrastination (Urban)

Fall 2018 Schedule:

Sep. 7: Interview with Prof. Alex Gorodetsky, Intro to AIM
Sep. 14: Interview with Prof. Robert Krasny, What is Applied Math?
Sep. 21:
Interview with Prof. Adam Larios, Graduate Fellowships
Sep. 28: Faculty Research Portrait: Profs. John Schotland and Eric Michielssen
Oct. 5: Faculty Research Portrait: Prof. Joe Conlon
Oct. 12: Student Presentation: Rishi Sonthalia + Interview with Prof. Saverio Spagnolie
Oct. 19: Student Presentation: Ryan Kohl + How to write a great research paper (Simon Peyton Jones)
Oct. 26: Interview with Prof. Harbir Antil
Nov. 2: Student Presentation: Andrew McMillan + Interview with Prof. Benjamin Akers
Nov. 9: Student Presentation: Christiana Mavroyiakoumou + Interview with Dr. Tiago Salvador
Nov. 16: Student Presentation: Yili Zhang + How to write a great research paper (Simon Peyton Jones)
Nov. 23: Thanksgiving
Nov. 30: Faculty Research Portrait: Prof. Shravan Veerapaneni + Interview with Prof. John Wettlaufer
Dec. 7: Student Presentation: Tyler Bolles +
Interview with Dr. Ian Tobasco

Winter 2018 Schedule:

Jan. 5: Interview with Prof. Liliana Borcea, General grad school advice (Morrisett)
Jan. 12: Interview with Prof. Fernanda Valdovinos, General grad school advice (Morrisett)
Jan. 19:
Interview with Prof. Tony Gao, General grad school advice (Morrisett)
Jan. 26: Interview with Prof. Oleg Zikanov, Care and Feeding of Advisors (Chong)
Feb. 2: Interview with Prof. Gino Biondini, Care and Feeding of Advisors (Chong)
Feb. 9: Saibal De presentation, Interview with Prof. Phil Roe
Feb. 16: Interview with Dr. Thomas Bothner; Choosing a research topic (Reis)
Feb. 23: Interview with Prof. Eric Keaveny
Mar. 2: Winter Break
Mar. 9: AIM Student Forum
Mar. 16: Time Management (Anding); Interview with Dr. Jeremy Hoskins
Mar. 23: Choosing a research topic (Irwin); Interview with Prof. Andrei Martinez-Finkelshtein
Mar. 30: Student Presentations; Interview with Prof. Joseph Paulsen
Apr. 6: Student Presentations; Interview with Prof. Christoph Borgers
Apr. 13: Student Presentations; Interview with Prof. Kevin Hannay

Fall 2017 Schedule:

Sep. 8: Interview with Prof. Victoria Booth, Introduction to AIM
Sep. 15: Interview with Prof. Rayan Saab, What is Applied Math (Fassbauer)
Sep. 22:
Prof. Shravan Veerapaneni Research Portrait, Graduate Research Fellowships
Sep. 29: Interview with Dr. Deniz Bilman, Scientific Presentations (Alley)
Oct. 6: Interview with Prof. Xiaoming Mao, Scientific Presentations (Alley)
Oct. 13: Interview with Dr. Yilun Wu, Math talks (de Vries)
Oct. 20: Prof. Selim Esedoglu Research Portrait
Oct. 27: Math talks (de Vries)
Nov. 3: Interview with Dr. Robert Ecke
Nov. 10: Interview with Prof. Chris Rycroft, Student Presentations
Nov. 17: Interview with Prof. Marina Epelman, Student Presentations
Nov. 24: Thanksgiving break
Dec. 1: Interview with Prof. Yen Ting Lin, Student Presentations
Dec. 8:
Prof. Sergey Nadtochiy Research Portrait

Winter 2017 Schedule:

Jan. 6: Interview with Dr. Olivia Walch and Care and Feeding of Advisors
Jan. 13: Faculty Research Portrait: Prof. Anna Gilbert
Jan. 20: Time Management (Pausch)
Jan. 27: Interview with Dr. Paramsothy Jayakumar, US Army TARDEC
Feb 3, 2017: Interview with Prof. Xiaofan Li, Finding a Research Topic (Irwin)
Feb 10, 2017: Faculty Portrait: Silas Alben;Finding a Research Topic (Reis)
Feb 17, 2017: How to write a great research paper (Simon Peyton Jones)
Feb 24, 2017: Whitesides group: Writing a Paper; Interdisciplinary research (S. Gilbert)
March 3: Winter Break
March 10, 2017: Recruitment day and AIM student panel
March 17, 2017: Interview with Prof. Ekaterina Merkurjev, Interdisciplinary research (Keener)
March 24, 2017: Science at Liberal Arts colleges (Grief), Time management (Anding)
March 31, 2017: Student presentations (Ursula Trigos, Jenia Rousseva); Mathematical Sciences in 2025 (Green)
April 7, 2017: Interview with Dr. David Gorisch, U.S. Army; Student presentations (Zhaoming Zhang,  Tianchen Zhao).
April 14, 2017: Student presentations (David Guerra, Alex Kapiamba, John Wakefield)

Fall 2016 Schedule:

Sep. 9: Class canceled due to power outage
Sep. 16: Interview with Prof. Robert Marangell, Introduction to AIM
Sep. 23:
Interview with Prof. Andrew Belmonte, 2nd years' experiences
Sep. 30: Interview with Prof. Jean-Luc Thiffeault, Fellowships
Oct. 7: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Sergey Nadtochiy
Oct. 14: Student talks: Nathan Vaughn, Hai Zhu
Oct. 21: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Indika Rajapakse
Oct. 28: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Annette Ostling, Eduardo Corona interview
Nov. 4: Faculty Portrait: Profs. John Schotland and Mackillo Kira
Nov. 11: Student talks: Fanchen He, Yuchen Liao, Ny Wang
Nov. 18: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Peter Miller
Nov. 25: Thanksgiving break
Dec. 2: Student talk: Ryan Sandberg, "What is Applied Math?"
Dec. 9: Faculty Portrait: Prof. Johannes Muhle-Karbe

Winter 2016 Schedule:

Jan. 8: Faculty Portrait: Shravan Veerapaneni

Jan. 15: Time Management (Pausch)
Jan. 22:
Care and Feeding of Advisors (Chong)
Jan. 29: Finding a Research Topic (Irwin)
Feb. 5: Faculty Portrait: Silas Alben
Feb. 12: Whitesides group: Writing a Paper
Feb. 19: How to write a great research paper (Simon Peyton Jones)
Feb. 26: Faculty Portrait: John Schotland; interdisciplinary research
March 4: Winter Break
March 11: Recruitment day and AIM student panel
March 18: Carolyn Kuranz (AOSS)
March 25: Interdisciplinary research (Gilbert, Keener, Nat. Acad. Sci.)
April 1: Student talks (Alexander Zaitzeff, Leighton Wilson)
April 8: Student talks (William Clark, Jia Guo)
April 15: Student talks (Jonathan Guzman, Jay Barraza, Anthony Della Pella)

Fall 2015 Schedule:

Sept. 11: Introduction, What is Applied Math?
Sept. 18: Warm-up Talk: Henry Jacobs, U. Michigan;
NSF GRFP; Group photo
Sept. 25: Warm-up Talk: Tom Trogdon, NYU
Oct. 2: Michael Alley, Craft of Scient. Present.; Warm-up Talk: Saverio Spagnolie, U. Wisconsin
Oct. 9: Faculty Portrait: Charlie Doering
Oct. 16: Faculty Portrait: Roman Vershynin
Oct. 23: Craft of Scient. Present. Part 2; Math talks (de Vries)
Oct. 30: Math talks cont'd (de Vries); Warm-up Talk: Ling Xu, U. Michigan
Nov. 6
: Math talks cont'd (de Vries, me); General grad school advice (Morrisett)
Nov. 13: DOE CSGF; General grad school advice (Morrisett, Chong)
Nov. 20: Student talks (Matt Olson, Amy Nesky, Huajie Qian)
Dec. 4: Student talks (Harry Li, Jack Kelly, Adrian Carballeira)
Dec. 11: Student talks (Amanda Bower, Hao Wu)