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Tuesday, March 21, 2000

  • Applications from outside the high schools
  • Kids' camps at UW this summer
  • Finance committee and other events
  • Corrections and other chatter

Putnam contest winners

Names are now available of the students on UW's winning team in this year's William Lowell Putnam Mathematics Competition.

The contest is written in December each year to challenge students at North American universities with mathematical problems, and word came on Friday that the UW team were the 1999 champions, scoring ahead of Harvard, Duke, Michigan and Chicago.

Members of the winning team were Sabin Cautis of pure mathematics, Donny Cheung of combinatorics and optimization, and Derek Kisman of computer science. Cautis and Kisman placed among the top six students writing the competition, and become "Putnam fellows".

Two other UW students who weren't members of the team also placed high, within the top 24 finishers in the Putnam: Joel Kamnitzer (applied math) and Wai Ling Yee (computer science). And, to put the icing on the cake, Yee also won the special Elizabeth Lowell Putnam Prize for the highest-scoring female student in the contest. Byung Kyu Chun (general math) scored an honourable mention.

Applications from outside the high schools

It isn't just 18-year-olds who want to become UW students this fall, as Waterloo also has 4,099 "non-OSS" applications for admission. They come from pupils outside Ontario, students now at community colleges, and "mature" students returning to education after time in the workforce or the family -- and their numbers are growing.

This year's total is up by 6.8 per cent from the comparable number in 1999, says a report from Peter Burroughs, the university's director of admissions. That's somewhat higher than the Ontario-wide increase of 4.5 per cent from last year to this year.

"The data reflect the same trends as the OSS cohort," says Burroughs's report, referring to figures for Ontario secondary school applicants that were announced last month. Arts, mathematics and science are "showing substantial overall increases of 15.2%, 14.4% and 31.8% respectively," he writes.

"The decreases in non-OSS applications to the Faculties of Applied Health Sciences, Engineering and Environmental Studies are similar to those experienced in the OSS data." He calls those drops "particularly troubling because provincially, the corresponding subject areas are showing increases".

Of the 4,099 non-OSS applicants to Waterloo, 1,411 listed a UW program as their first choice. That's a 12.2 per cent increase from last year, while the provincial average is just 1.5 per cent.

Both at UW and across Ontario, about four-fifths of university applicants come from the high school system and one-fifth from the non-OSS group.

Kids' camps at UW this summer

Campers at last year's Engineering Science Quest play Polymer Tag
Plans are underway to welcome youngsters to campus this summer as part of a variety of camp experiences. From pre-schoolers to grade 12 students, the UW summer camps offer activities for a range of interests -- from drama and music to science and engineering, with swimming and campfires for the traditionalists.

The Heritage Resources Camp that has been held in some previous summers isn't taking place this year, but the two best-known day camps are scheduled again, along with a music camp and two nursery school programs for younger children. Here's a rundown:

Arts Computer Experience (ACE) is a summer day camp for children aged 7 to 12. Says an announcement: "Children will experience hours of fun while learning exciting and interesting aspects of art, computers, drama and music combined with outdoor activities and swimming. The camp runs four two-week sessions throughout July and August, 8:30 - 4:30 daily. Cost is $265 for sessions I and III (shortened by holidays) and $285 for sessions II and IV. A $10 discount applies for full payment before April 15. Programs begins July 4." Contact Mary Varcoe at ext. 5939, ace@watarts.

Engineering Science Quest (ESQ) is a member of ACTUA of Canada, winner of the Michael Smith Award for excellence in the promotion of science to young people across Canada. "Now in its 10th year, this student-run program explores new horizons in engineering and science. It gives children in grades 1-12 an opportunity to see, touch, invent, design, create, and experiment in twelve distinct camps. Three ExXtreme Camping! programs focus on the world of computers and technology. Camps have a camper/instructor ratio of six campers per instructor, except the ExXtreme and Primary programs which have a ratio of four campers per instructor. Camps run weekly from July 10 to September 1 at $165 per five-day week and $215 per five-day week for the ExXtreme Camping! programs." Contact Bill Baer or Cindy Zeto at ext. 5239, info@esq.

Hildegard Marsden Day Nursery Summer Camp is a "program of fun-filled indoor and outdoor activities emphasizes the intellectual, physical, social and emotional growth of young children ages 2 1/2 to seven years. Activities include science projects, swimming, large and fine motor activities, songs, co-operative games, field trips and more! The child-staff ratio is eight campers for each childhood educator, with a maximum of 16 weekly campers. Each week offers different trips and activities. Minimum weekly sessions are offered for July and August. Cost is $130 per five-day week; $120 per four-day week. Register early." Contact Alicia Smith or Tracy Recoskie at ext. 5437.

Klemmer Farmhouse Co-operative Nursery offers a "fun-filled weekly program for children ages 2 1/2 years to five years" with "crafts, water play, music and games combined with field trips and outdoor play programs. Children may register for one or more weeks. Hot lunch and snacks are provided. The child-staff ratio is eight children for each ECE teacher. Cost is $125 per five-day week and $115 per four-day week." Contact Melodie Lee, 885-5181.

Ontario Mennonite Music Camp at Conrad Grebel College promises "twelve fun-filled days of Music Camp! We welcome boys and girls ages 12 to 16 years who have a love for music and some basic music training. Create lifetime friendships as you participate in choir, instrumental music, private coaching, a musical theatre production, crazy outdoor activities, campfires, field trips, camper planned chapels, concerts by professional artists, and a concert for family and friends. Now in its 17th year, OMMC gladly receives campers from many Christian denominations. Campers and university-trained counselors are housed in the UW dormitory rooms of Conrad Grebel College, August 13 to 25. Cost is $475, plus a non-refundable deposit of $50 before June 12 or $75 after June 17." Contact Julia Richards, 885-0220 ext. 226.

Finance committee and other events

The senate finance committee meets this morning (9:30 a.m., Needles Hall room 3001) to start its look at the university's 2000-01 operating budget.

Today brings Cultural Caravan to the Student Life Centre, with demonstrations by various student groups: kendo at 11:30, the Spirit Nation Singers (and drummers) at 11:50, breakdance at 12:20, the Swing and Social Dance Club at 12:40, dance by the Filipino Students' Association at 1:00, UW DJs at 1:20, the Caribbean Students' Association dancing at 1:30. "Food," writes Chris Harold, vice-president (internal) of the Federation of Students, "will be served in the multi-purpose room between 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. (or until we run out), $5 for five portions."

A student recital, performer not announced, is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. in the chapel at Conrad Grebel College. Admission is free.

The joint health and safety committee will meet at 1:30 in Needles Hall room 3001. Among the agenda items: "incidents" in the environmental studies workshop, traffic patterns on the ring road at the entrance to the Central Services courtyard, air quality in Needles Hall, dogs on the north campus.

The career development seminar series continues. Today at 1:30: "Gain the Competitive Edge -- Know the Employer." Wednesday at 10:30: "Interview Skills -- the Basics." Wednesday at 11:30: "Interview Skills -- Preparing for Questions." Thursday at 10:30: "Interview Skills -- Selling Your Skills." all the sessions are held in Needles Hall room 1020.

Colleen Cutler of the department of statistics and actuarial science speaks today in a special lecture sponsored by the Women in Mathematics Committee. Her talk starts at 4:30 p.m. in Math and Computer room 5136. The topic: "Chaos Theory, Prediction and Randomness". Says Cutler:

Over the past two decades much has been made of the notion of "chaos" both in the scientific literature and the popular media. Very roughly, chaos theory deals with the theory and consequences of the fact that some low-dimensional simple nonlinear dynamical systems may produce outputs resembling those of random or stochastic processes. Of course terms such as "resembling", "random", "stochastic", etc. are not in themselves well-defined, so this talk will include a discussion of their meaning in this context. Scientists in various disciplines, including physics, biology, and geology, are using techniques developed out of chaos theory, such as embedding methods and estimation of Lyapunov exponents, to unravel the original signal underlying an observed single-variable time series and determine how far in the future it can be predicted. These techniques have much in common with nonlinear time series methods used in statistics, where we think of estimating the order of a time series and then determining the forward prediction window. Another valid use of chaos is in controlling a dynamical system by shocking the system as necessary in order to keep it operating within a desired regime. Finally, chaos has also been claimed as an explanation of the stock markets and as proof of the existence of God. These last two topics will not be included in this talk.
"This talk," a notice adds, "is aimed at upper year undergraduate and graduate students in the mathematical sciences."

The Waterloo Public Interest Research Group will hold its annual general meeting tonight at 5 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of the Student Life Centre.

Dinner at St. Paul's United College will be something special tonight: a "graduate banquet". Students graduating this year who are current or former St. Paul's residents will get together "to reconnect and reminisce before they scatter world-wide".

"Government of Ontario legislation requires," says a memo from UW's safety office, "that all employees of the University be made aware of current Health & Safety legislation and the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System program. To facilitate this, the Safety Office is presenting a WHMIS and safety program describing WHMIS legislation and requirements of the Occupational Health & Safety Act. The session, including a video and brief quiz, runs for approximately 1 hour." WHMIS training will happen at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow, March 22, and 2 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in Davis Centre room 1304.

Corrections and other chatter

First of all, I made an error in yesterday's paragraph about librarians' salaries. It was quickly corrected, but readers who get the Bulletin through a newsgroup certainly saw the erroneous version. "Perhaps most galling," I wrote, "UW pay is well above those at Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Guelph, with which UW librarians work closely." That should have said well below, as the context probably made clear. (And the sentence is ungrammatical in another way, I think, but let's not get into that.)

Regrettably, I made a very similar mistake in another section of yesterday's Bulletin, writing that in the ACM programming competition, "UW had fewer penalty minutes than St. Petersburg State and so came second." The point of course is that UW had more penalty minutes and so came second.

Still on the subject of yesterday's news, here's a further note about the steps that were taken late last week to reduce the bandwidth available to heavy users of Resnet. I wrote that the information systems and technology department had promised to end the project if it seemed to be inconveniencing normal users as well. In fact it had already ended, says Roger Watt of IST: "We started it late afternoon Wednesday, March 15. We ended it mid-morning Friday, March 17." Resnet

The new Kitchener-Waterloo phone books were delivered around campus yesterday, and (as I said in yesterday's Bulletin) the old books are indeed recyclable. They should be placed beside white recycling boxes "in a pile or a box", says Patti Cook, UW's waste management coordinator. "Custodial staff will take the phone books to loading docks, where they will be picked up and taken back to central stores. Our paper broker will take the books for recycling."


Editor of the Daily Bulletin: Chris Redmond
Information and Public Affairs, University of Waterloo
credmond@uwaterloo.ca | (519) 888-4567 ext. 3004
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