Math/CS 299/399 Colloquium in Mathematics & Computer Science I & II Fall 2020 

Colloquium Speaker Reviews

Video Overview

See the video overview about this series of assignments. It includes information on completing these in LaTeX using Overleaf.

Student Learning Outcomes

Each of these speaker review assignments will result in the following student learning outcomes by the end of the course.

Math/CS 299

  • Increase their appreciation for the wide range of applications of the mathematical sciences
  • Effectively communicate basic disciplinary (mathematics or computer science) concepts in writing using LaTeX and bibliographic information using BibTeX
  • Develop their critical listening skills, including: obtaining, processing, evaluating, synthesizing, summarizing, and contextualizing information delivered in an academic presentation

Math/CS 399

  • Articulate their appreciation for the wide range of applications of the mathematical sciences
  • Effectively communicate advanced (mathematics or computer science) concepts in writing using LaTeX and bibliographic information using BibTeX
  • Increase their critical listening skills, including: obtaining, processing, evaluating, synthesizing, summarizing, and contextualizing information delivered in an academic presentation

Overview and Grading Rubric

Good communication is a vital part of any profession. One goal of this course is to help instruct you on how to effectively communicate as a mathematics or computer science professional. Your written summaries can form the basis of a portfolio that can be used by you to demonstrate to others (future employers, etc) your ability to communicate. Take these writing assignments seriously! Spell check your work. Take the time to correct any issues you have once the marked papers are returned to you.

Your review must be written in LaTeX, which is the standard for professional communication in both mathematics and computer science. You must also use the format in the supplied template. Many of our speakers will have prepared their talks using LaTeX! Each week you must demonstrate your skill at using several features of LaTeX to produce some interesting formulae, set of symbols, or other material related to the talk. You should use this as an opportunity to learn more about using LaTeX. LaTeX is a superset of TeX and both use a nearly identical syntax.

Mathematica can produce TeX/LaTeX code that can be placed inside mathematical mode in your TeX/LaTeX file. You can use the TeXForm function to do this conversion. This is particularly useful when producing a TeX/LaTeX document using results obtained from Mathematica.

Your roughly weekly assignment will consist of reviewing each speaker. These summaries will have several components as described in the grading rubric below.

Grade Element Point Assessment
Document Structure
Your response paper must be written in LaTeX with a two column format. Start with the document template found in template.tex, the style file albion.bst, and the BibTeX file colloquium.bib. Note this template includes your LaTeX source code and a grading box. The example following this rubric gives and example output of this format.
The title should reflect the speaker, the talk, or both. Your name, and the date of the talk or when you wrote the summary is also required. A title such as A review of the talk by David Reimann or A review of the talk on tessellations of the plane by David Reimann is a reasonable title. Your title you contain the speaker's name and possibly a shortened version of the speaker's talk title.
  1. Concise accurate paper title with your name.
  2. Issues with the above items.
The introduction should be in a separate labeled section and be 2–5 sentences long containing three main items.
  • It should contain a brief statement on the contents of the talk in your own words (don't just copy the abstract).
  • It should include information about the speaker (educational background and current professional position).
  • The full talk title should be given with a bibligraphic reference to a full bibliographic reference in the Bibliography. In situations where the review paper is based on a pre-recorded lecture, state the date and location of the recording.
This information is available from the talk abstract and the student introduction.
  1. Concise accurate paper title; your name; basic overview of the speaker and the talk; BibTeX citation; appropriate length.
  2. Minor issues with the above items.
  3. Major issues with the above items.
Three paragraphs each focused on an interesting concept or idea from the talk. External material may be used to support your discussion, but must be approprately cited. One great source for information on mathematical topics is Wolfram MathWorld. Wikipedia also contains many good articles about mathematical topics, but should not be considered the definite answer on a topic; generally you should use the peer-reviewed sources listed for such answers. Professors can also help clarify the content of the talk, so ask us if you need additional information.

Writing should be clear, consise, and factual. This should be between 100 and 450 words.
  1. Three well written paragraphs of important material presented.
  2. Minor issues with the above items.
  3. Several issues with the above items.
  4. Significant issues with the above items.
Personal Reflection
Write a paragraph containing your personal reflection of the talk, including your attitudes toward the speaker and the material presented. Specifically, how has this talk increased your appreciation for the wide range of applications of the mathematical sciences? Consider the following questions as you formulate your writing:
  • Why was this talk interesting to you?
  • What ideas from the talk can be used in your current or future courses?
  • What new knowledge did you gain?
  • What existing knowledge did you apply in a new way?
  • What, if any, information was missing from the talk?
  • Did the talk inspire you to investigate the subject or related subjects in more detail?
  • Could you envision yourself doing a FURSCA project, independent study, or REU on the subject?
  • Were there any ethical or philosophical issues raised?

This should be between 50 and 200 words.
  1. A thoughtful reflection of the talk.
  2. Generic or lacking any significant relation to the talk.
Writing: Structure, Language, Grammar, Mechanics
Your paper should be well organized, appropriate style, fun to read, good flow and trajectory, good balance of presentation, and smooth transitions.
Your paper should be in English, have good word choice, aimed at correct audience, use proper tone, active voice, vibrant language, lack of redundancies, no slang, and be precise.
Your paper should be grammatically correct, use appropriate verb tense, no punctuation errors, sentences match in subject and verb, no run-on sentences, paragraphs well constructed. In particular, you should use past tense when referring to what the speaker said or did in the talk.
Your paper should no typos, no misspellings, no capitalization errors, use proper margins, and no other oddities
  1. Good writing thoughout your paper.
  2. Minor writing issues.
  3. Minor writing with the above items.
  4. Serious issues.
Proper and sufficient use of LaTeX. Your paper must be written in LaTeX and use a two-column format as in the example below. Mathematical text or other significant use of LaTeX features is required; even if the talk has little mathematical content you should include some LaTeX feature (image, table, list, etc) that go above and beyond the basic template provided. See the TeX-Os handout for common LaTeX issues you should avoid.
  1. Proper and sufficient LaTeX.
  2. Improper or insufficient LaTeX.
  3. No LaTeX features evident.
  4. No LaTeX submission.
Your paper must contain a BibTeX format bibliography containing at least the citation for the talk. The citation will need to be placed into a separate file (that can be shared among all talk responses), such as colloquium.bib. Links to computer generated BibTeX citation are available on the Colloquium Speaker Schedule. Google Scholar has an option to provide BibTeX formats for citations. Once a search is complete, you can click on the "Import into BibTeX" link which will display a BibTeX entry that can be included in your .bib file. Because these citations are automatically created, sometimes these citations may need a little editing to provide a correct form. Your bibliography must use format defined in the style file albion.bst.
  1. Proper citing, bibliography reference, and format.
  2. Minor issues with above items.
  3. No BibTeX or improper format.
Bring a Friend (Optional Extra Credit)
You can earn extra credit by bringing a friend and writing about it. Include short paragraph in your personal response with the name of your friend and their impression of the talk. You cannot bring another colloquium student or professor for credit. Only one colloquium student can claim credit for bringing a vistor. You can get creidt for having a friend watch a pre-recorded video with you.

Only include this section if you have done the extra credit.
  1. Your paper contains a statement such as I brought my friend Ada Lovelace to colloquium this week and she enjoyed the talk. She especially loved ...
  2. No written indication you brought a friend.
Speaker Question and Answer (Optional Extra Credit)
Following the talk, protocol allows a brief question and answer period. If you ask the speaker a question following the talk, you can earn extra credit by writing a paragraph on the question you asked and the speaker's response (at most writeup one per speaker). Asking good questions may require you to do a littel reading about the topic before the talk. Many topics can be studied with on-line resources and from books in the department. You can also ask one of your professors about the topic. Questions can range from clarification of expansion of technical points to asking a speaker about the motivation behind their work, graduate school opportunities at their institution, or for general academic advice. Students introducing a speaker can also earn credit for this without writing an entire review. This should be between 50 and 100 words.

For talks that are pre-recorded, there will unlikely be an opportunity for dialog with the speaker. While the speaker can't answer your questions, I will give 1 point each if you write about a question you would have asked the speaker.

Only include this section if you have done the extra credit.
  1. Your paper contains a a restatement of a question you asked of the speaker and a synopsis of their response.
  2. You've included a question that you did not think of asking the speaker during the talk or could not ask because of some other issue.
  3. No written indication you asked a question.
Solutions to Posed Problems (Optional Extra Credit)
You can earn extra credit by solving one or more problems posed by the speaker. The solution must be provideed in writing using LaTeX. Points awarded will be based on the the hardness of the problem, the quality of your solution, and your ability to present it in a clear and concise manner.

Only include this section if you have done the extra credit.
  1. Excellent presentation of a correct solution.
  2. Solution is lacking in either clarity or minor correctness.
  3. Reasonable attempt or presentation of a solution.
  4. Weak attempt or presentation of a solution.
  5. No written indication you solved any potential problems posed by the speaker.
Total Possible points (Including Optional Extra Credit)


Below is an example response paper for a ficticious talk. The source LaTeX file is Gauss.tex. It uses the style file albion.bst, the BibTeX file colloquium.bib, and the image file Gauss.jpg. This example paper includes many LaTeX features that not all your papers will use, thus it is longer than I expect of your response papers.


Summaries will be due via email as a pdf by the next regularly scheduled class meeting time unless otherwise specified.

Copyright © 2020, David A. Reimann. All rights reserved.