Fractals Expert to Speak at Student Research Symposium

Monday, March 28, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (March 28, 2011) – The Saint Joseph’s University chapter of Sigma Xi, the scientific research society, is hosting its 22nd annual Student Research Symposium on Fri., April 8. Robert Devaney, Ph.D., professor of mathematics at Boston University, will be the symposium’s keynote speaker and recipient of the Christopher Clavius, S.J. Award, which recognizes the work of inspirational scientists.

The symposium is also an opportunity for students to share their own work and view the work of their peers. This year more than 100 graduate and undergraduate students representing 16 colleges and universities will present their research in the areas of mathematics, computer science, engineering and the natural and social sciences.

In his presentation titled “Chaos Games and Fractal Images,” Devaney will describe fractals, the beautiful images that arise from the Chaos Game, which is a simple repetitive mathematical rule that yields intricate fractal images.

Kristopher Tapp, Ph.D., associate professor of mathematics and president of SJU’s Sigma Xi chapter explains that “fractals are infinitely intricate self-similar images that are used in computer animation, image compression and cell phone antenna design. Their visual intricacy and beauty is surprising, because they are generated by very simple repetitive procedures. The Chaos Game is one such procedure.”

The evening will conclude with a challenge to “Beat the Professor” at the Chaos Game where students who participate will compete to win Devaney’s computer.

Devaney has written more than 100 research papers in the field of dynamic systems, and has co-authored or edited 13 books in this area of mathematics. In 2007, he was the mathematical consultant for 21, a feature film starring Kevin Spacey and Laurence Fishburne. In 2009, Devaney was inducted into the Massachusetts Mathematics Educators Hall of Fame and the following year he was named the Feld Family Professor of Teaching Excellence at Boston University.

Tapp says that Devaney is “a prominent leader in the field and won many awards for his research and its exposition. His credentials and track record for explaining his work to large audiences that do not necessarily have a technical background is impressive.”

The keynote address will take place at 5:00p.m. in the Wolfington Teletrorium located in Mandeville Hall. For additional information, please visit

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