A Duke University professor presented to students and faculty about machine learning, fibre bundles and biological morphing on Monday afternoon in SAS Hall. The talk was part of the ongoing colloquia events presented by the NC State Department of Mathematics, and it was the first mathematics colloquium this semester.

Ingrid Daubechies, a professor of mathematics and electrical and computer engineering from Duke University, received her doctorate from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium.

She presented her research involving the use of automatic methods to extract information from samples like bones and teeth. She and her team have been working on this particular research since 2008, and her lecture clearly illustrated the depth of this research.

Her team’s goal was to use mathematics to better the biologists’ study of complex artifacts, starting with animal teeth. Rather than keeping separate disciplines like biology and mathematics, Daubechies showed how they could be used to help one another to further knowledge.

“I thought it was very interesting for a noted mathematician to convey research in a pretty clear manner,” said Zack Morrow, a graduate student studying applied mathematics. “Obviously I am not a trained biologist, so there were parts when I was like, ‘What’s going on here?’ But overall I didn’t think it was overly technical and it was very cool to see the way that complicated math can be used to express things in other sciences.”

Daubechies illustrated to the audience how it is possible to integrate disciplines to solve problems. Specifically, she spoke on her own research that used mathematics, technology and biology to better understand bones and teeth. Not only that, but Daubechies said that development of her research could allow for even more individuals to utilize its benefits, even if they are not fully trained in biology or specifically morphology.

“When connections start getting made between math it seems really inapplicable to other areas when you know that there is some sort of deep thing going on,” Morrow said. 

While there are seminars quite often in the mathematics department at NC State, the colloquium only happens once or a twice a semester. Seminars are frequent in the Department of Mathematics and while beneficial, colloquia provide an opportunity to bring in more well-known speaker to share their research.

Students and faculty are able to gain exposure to topics that they would not necessarily be able to seek out individually, and from experts at that. 

“I liked it,” said Shira Viel, a graduate student studying mathematics. “This is not my area of expertise mathematically at all, but I felt like I got somewhat of a sense of what was going on.”

The mathematics department will present its next colloquium on Thursday, Nov. 10. The lecturer will be Alberto Bressan, a professor from Pennsylvania State University, who will give a talk on his own research.