College faculty from across the country and overseas will attend a Reconnect Conference at Saint Mary's College of California on July 11-17 to explore a new area of mathematics: Folding and Unfolding in Computational Geometry. The purpose of the conference is to reconnect faculty to the research enterprise.
The folding of paper or metal and the unfolding of a surface to a planar state are complementary processes of increasing importance both in pure and applied mathematics. Designing origami foldings is an ancient two-dimensional problem with recent advances. The conference will consider questions of folding in one, two and three dimensions. Folding one-dimensional "linkages" is a model for protein folding. Unfolding a polyhedron is a first step in manufacturing objects by bending aluminum.
The principal lecturer will be Joseph O'Rourke, Olin Professor and Chair of Computer Science and Professor of Mathematics at Smith College, who is one of the founding fathers of computational geometry. Saint Mary's College Mathematics Professor Jane Sangwine-Yager will be a guest lecturer.
In 2001 the National Science Foundation awarded Dr. O'Rourke the Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, given to individuals whose research excellence has been shared liberally through education efforts among students and the public. He received the award for his work in adapting the research on folding and unfolding computational geometry for use by students and teachers from sixth grade through graduate school.
The Reconnect Conference is made possible through a grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Rutgers University, Saint Mary's College and five other institutions. The principal investigator of the grant is Dr. Fred Roberts of Rutgers University. Dr. Lidia Luquet, of Saint Mary's College, is the local director of the Reconnect Conference.