Memories of TS Michael, by Thomas Quint

TS Michael passed away on November 22, 2016, from cancer. I will miss him as a colleague and a kind, wise soul. Tom Quint has kindly allowed me to post these reminiscences that he wrote up.

Well, I guess I could start with the reason TS and I met in the first place. I was a postdoc at USNA in about 1991 and pretty impressed with myself. So when USNA offered to continue my postdoc for two more years (rather than give me a tenure track position), I turned it down. Smartest move I ever made, because TS got the position and so we got to know each other.

We started working w each other one day when we both attended a talk on “sphere of influence graphs”. I found the subject moderately interesting, but he came into my office all excited, and I couldn’t get rid of him — wouldn’t leave until we had developed a few research ideas.

Interestingly, his position at USNA turned into a tenure track, while mine didn’t. It wasn’t until 1996 that I got my position at U of Nevada.

Work sessions with him always followed the same pattern. As you may or may not know, T.S. a) refused to fly in airplanes, and b) didn’t drive. Living across the country from each other, the only way we could work together face-to-face was: once each summer I would fly out to the east coast to visit my parents, borrow one of their cars for a week, and drive down to Annapolis. First thing we’d do is go to Whole Foods, where he would load up my car with food and other supplies, enough to last at least a few months. My reward was that he always bought me the biggest package of nigiri sushi we could find — not cheap at Whole Foods!

It was fun, even though I had to suffer through eight million stories about the USNA Water Polo Team.

Oh yes, and he used to encourage me to sneak into one of the USNA gyms to work out. We figured that no one would notice if I wore my Nevada sweats (our color is also dark blue, and the pants also had a big “N” on them). It worked.

Truth be told, TS didn’t really have a family of his own, so I think he considered the mids as his family. He cared deeply about them (with bonus points if you were a math major or a water polo player :-).

One more TS anecdote, complete with photo.  Specifically, TS was especially thrilled to find out that we had named our firstborn son Theodore Saul Quint.  Naturally, TS took to calling him “Little TS”.  At any rate, the photo below is of “Big TS” holding “Little TS”, some time in the Fall of 2000.

TS Michael in 2000.

Simple unsolved math problem, 7

Everyone’s heard of the number $\pi =$ 3.141592…, right?

Robert Couse-Baker / CC BY http://2.0 / Flickr: 29233640@N07

And you probably know that $\pi$ is not a rational number (i.e., a quotient of two integers, like 7/3). Unlike a rational number, whose decimal expansion is eventually periodic, if you look at the digits of $\pi$ they seem random,

3.1415926535897932384626433832795028841971693993751058209749445923078164062862089986280348253421170679821480865132823066470938446095505822317253594081284811174502841027019385211055596446229489549303819644288109756659334461284756482…

But are they really? No one really knows. There’s a paper that explores the statistics of these digits using the first 22.4 trillion digits of $\pi$. Does any finite sequence of k digits (say, for example, the 4-digit sequence 2016) occur just as often as any other sequence of the same length (say, 1492), for each k? When the answer is yes, the number is called ‘normal.’ That is, a normal number is a real number whose infinite sequence of digits is distributed uniformly in the sense that each digit has the same natural density 1/10, also all possible k-tuples of digits are equally likely with density 1/k, for any integer $k>1$.

The following simple problem is unsolved:

Conjecture: $\pi$ is normal.

Sports ranking methods, 1

This is the first of a series of expository posts on matrix-theoretic sports ranking methods. This post, which owes much to discussions with TS Michael, discusses Massey’s method.

Massey’s method, currently in use by the NCAA (for football, where teams typically play each other once), was developed by Kenneth P. Massey
while an undergraduate math major in the late 1990s. We present a possible variation of Massey’s method adapted to baseball, where teams typically play each other multiple times.

There are exactly 15 pairing between these teams. These pairs are sorted lexicographically, as follows:

(1,2),(1,3),(1,4), …, (5,6).

In other words, sorted as

Army vs Bucknell, Army vs Holy Cross, Army vs Lafayette, …, Lehigh vs Navy.

The cumulative results of the 2016 regular season are given in the table below. We count only the games played in the Patriot league, but not including the Patriot league post-season tournament (see eg, the Patriot League site for details). In the table, the total score (since the teams play multiple games against each other) of the team in the vertical column on the left is listed first. In other words, ”a – b” in row $i$ and column $j$ means the total runs scored by team $i$ against team $j$ is $a$, and the total runs allowed by team $i$ against team $j$ is $b$. Here, we order the six teams as above (team $1$ is Army (USMI at Westpoint), team $2$ is Bucknell, and so on). For instance if X played Y and the scores were $10-0$, $0-1$, $0-1$, $0-1$, $0-1$, $0-1$, then the table would read $10-5$ in the position of row X and column Y.

 X\Y Army Bucknell Holy Cross Lafayette Lehigh Navy Army x 14-16 14-13 14-24 10-12 8-19 Bucknell 16-14 x 27-30 18-16 23-20 10-22 Holy Cross 13-14 30-27 x 19-15 17-13 9-16 Lafayette 24-14 16-18 15-19 x 12-23 17-39 Lehigh 12-10 20-23 13-17 23-12 x 12-18 Navy 19-8 22-10 16-9 39-17 18-12 x

Win-loss digraph of the Patriot league mens baseball from 2015

In this ordering, we record their (sum total) win-loss record (a 1 for a win, -1 for a loss) in a $15\times 6$ matrix:

$M = \left(\begin{array}{cccccc} -1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 1 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ -1 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 \\ -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 \\ -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ 0 & -1 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 \\ 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & -1 & 0 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & -1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 1 & 0 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 0 & 1 \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & 1 \end{array}\right).$

We also record their total losses in a column vector:

${\bf b}= \left(\begin{array}{c} 2 \\ 1 \\ 10 \\ 2 \\ 11 \\ 3 \\ 2 \\ 3 \\ 14 \\ 4 \\ 14 \\ 10 \\ 11 \\ 22 \\ 6 \\ \end{array}\right).$

The Massey ranking of these teams is a vector ${\bf r}$ which best fits the equation

$M{\bf r}={\bf b}.$

While the corresponding linear system is over-determined, we can look for a best (in the least squares sense) approximate solution using the orthogonal projection formula

$P_V = B(B^tB)^{-1}B^t,$

valid for matrices $B$ with linearly independent columns. Unfortunately, in this case $B=M$ does not have linearly independent columns, so the formula doesn’t apply.

Massey’s clever idea is to solve

$M^tM{\bf r}=M^t{\bf b}$

by row-reduction and determine the rankings from the parameterized form of the solution. To this end, we compute

$M^tM= \left(\begin{array}{rrrrrr} 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 \\ -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 \\ -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 \end{array}\right)$

and

$M^t{\bf b}= \left(\begin{array}{r} -24 \\ -10 \\ 10 \\ -29 \\ -10 \\ 63 \\ \end{array}\right).$

Then we compute the rref of

$A= (M^tM,M^t{\bf b}) = \left(\begin{array}{rrrrrr|r} 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -24 \\ -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -10 \\ -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 & -1 & 10 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 & -1 & -29 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 & -1 & -10 \\ -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & -1 & 5 & 63 \end{array}\right),$

which is

$rref(M^tM,M^t{\bf b})= \left(\begin{array}{rrrrrr|r} 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & -\frac{87}{6} \\ 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 & 0 & -1 & -\frac{73}{6} \\ 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & 0 & -1 & -\frac{53}{6} \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & 0 & -1 & -\frac{92}{3} \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 1 & -1 & -\frac{73}{6} \\ 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 & 0 \end{array}\right).$

If ${\bf r}=(r_1,r_2,r_3,r_4,r_5,r_6)$ denotes the rankings of Army, Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh, Navy, in that order, then

$r_1=r_6-\frac{87}{6},\ \ r_2=r_6-\frac{73}{6},\ \ r_3=r_6-\frac{53}{6},\ \ r_4=r_6-\frac{92}{6},\ \ r_5=r_6-\frac{73}{6}.$

Therefore

Lafayette $<$ Army = Bucknell = Lehigh $<$ Holy Cross $<$ Navy.

If we use this ranking to predict win/losses over the season, it would fail to correctly predict Army vs Holy Cross (Army won), Bucknell vs Lehigh, and Lafayette vs Army. This gives a prediction failure rate of $20\%$.

Memories of TS Michael, by Bryan Shader

TS Michael passed away on November 22, 2016, from cancer. I will miss him as a colleague and a kind, wise soul.

TS Michael in December 2015 at the USNA

Bryan Shader has kindly allowed me to post these reminiscences that he wrote up.

Memories of TS Michael, by Bryan Shader

Indirect influence
TS indirectly influenced my choice of U. Wisconsin-Madison for graduate school. My senior year as an undergraduate, Herb Ryser gave a talk at my school. After the talk I was able to meet Ryser and asked for advice on graduate schools. Herb indicated that one of his very good undergraduate students had chosen UW-Madison and really liked the program. I later found out that the person was TS.

Back in the dark ages, universities still did registration by hand. This meant that for a couple of days before each semester the masses of students would wind their way through a maze of stations in a large gymnasium. For TS’s first 4 years, he would invariably encounter a road block because someone had permuted the words in his name (Todd Scott Michael) on one of the forms. After concretely verifying the hatcheck probabilities and fearing that this would cause some difficulties in graduating, he legally changed his name to TS Michael.

Polyominoes & Permanents
I recall many stories about how TS’s undergraduate work on polyominoes affected
his life. In particular, he recalled how once he started working on tilings on
polyominoes, he could no longer shower, or swim without visualizing polynomino
tilings on the wall’s or floor’s tiling. We shared an interest and passion for permanents (the permanent is a function of a matrix much like the determinant and plays a critical role in combinatorics). When working together we frequently would find that we both couldn’t calculate the determinant of a 3 by 3 matrix correctly, because we were calculating the permanent rather than the determinant.

Presentations and pipe-dreams
TS and I often talked about how best to give a mathematical lecture, or
presentation at a conference. Perhaps this is not at all surprising, as our common advisor (Richard Brualdi) is an incredible expositor, as was TS’s undergraduate advisor (Herb Ryser, our mathematical grandfather). TS often mentioned how Herb Ryser scripted every moment of a lecture; he knew each word he would write on the board and exactly where it would be written. TS wasn’t quite so prescriptive–but before any presentation he gave he would go to the actual room of the presentation a couple of times and run through the talk. This would include answering questions from the “pretend” audience. After being inspired by TS’s talks, I adopted this preparation method.
TS and I also fantasized about our talks ending with the audience lifting us up on their shoulders and carrying us out of the room in triumph! That is never happened to either of us (that I know of), but to have it, as a dream has always been a good motivation.

Mathematical heritage
TS was very interested in his mathematical heritage, and his mathematics brothers and sisters. TS was the 12th of Brandi’s 37 PhD students; I was the 15th. In 2005, TS and I organized a conference (called the Brualidfest) in honor of Richard Brualdi. Below I attach some photos of the design for the T-shirt.

t-shirt design for Brualdi-Fest, 1

The first image shows a biclique partition of K_5; for each color the edges of the given color form a complete bipartite graph; and each each of the completed graph on 5 vertices is in exactly one of these complete bipartite graph. This is related to one of TS’s favorite theorem: the Graham-Pollak Theorem.

t-shirt design for Bruldi-Fest, 2

The second image (when the symbols are replaced by 1s) is the incidence matrix of the projective plane of order 2; one of TS’s favorite matrices.

Here’s a photo of the Brualdi and his students at the conference:

From L to R they are: John Mason (?), Thomas Forreger, John Goldwasser, Dan Pritikin, Suk-geun Hwang, Han Cho, T.S. Michael, B. Shader, Keith Chavey, Jennifer Quinn, Mark Lawrence, Susan Hollingsworth, Nancy Neudauer, Adam Berliner, and Louis Deaett.

Here’s a picture for a 2012 conference:

From bottom to top: T.S. Michael (1988), US Naval Academy, MD; Bryan Shader (1990), University of Wyoming, WY; Jennifer Quinn (1993), University of Washington, Tacoma, WA; Nancy Neudauer (1998), Pacific University, OR; Susan Hollingsworth (2006), Edgewood College, WI; Adam Berliner (2009), St. Olaf College, MN; Louis Deaett (2009), Quinnipiac University, CT; Michael Schroeder (2011), Marshall University, WV; Seth Meyer (2012), Kathleen Kiernan (2012).

Here’s a caricature of TS made by Kathy Wilson (spouse of mathematician
Richard Wilson) at the Brualdifest:

TS Michael, by Kathy Wilson

Long Mathematical Discussions
During graduate school, TS and I would regularly bump into each other as we
were coming and going from the office. Often this happened as we were crossing University Avenue, one of the busiest streets in Madison. The typical conversation started with a “Hi, how are you doing? Have you considered X?” We would then spend the next 60-90 minutes on the street corner (whether it was a sweltering 90 degrees+, or a cold, windy day) considering X. In more recent years, these conversations have moved to hotel lobbies at conferences that we attend together. These discussions have been some of the best moments of my life, and through them I have become a better mathematician.

Here’s a photo of T.S. Michael with Kevin van der Meulen at the Brualdi-fest.

I’m guessing they are in the midst of one of those “Have you considered X?” moments that TS is famous for.

Mathematical insight
TS has taught me a lot about mathematics, including:

•  How trying to generalize a result can lead to better understanding of the original result.
•  How phrasing a question appropriately is often the key to a mathematical breakthrough
• Results that are surprising (e.g. go against ones intuition), use an elegant proof (e.g. bring in matrices in an unexpected way), and are aesthetically pleasing are worth pursing (as Piet Hein said “Problems worthy of attack, prove their worth by fighting back.”)
•  The struggle to present the proof of a result in the simplest, most self-contained way is important because often it produces a better understanding. If you can’t say something in a clean way, then perhaps you really don’t understand it fully.

TS’ mathematics fathers are:
Richard Brualdi ← Herb Ryser ← Cyrus MacDuffee ← Leonard Dickson ← E.H. Moore ← H. A. Newton ← Michel Chasles ← Simeon Poisoon ← Joseph Lagrange ← Leonhard Euler ← Johann Bernoulli.

The minimum upset ranking problem

Suppose n teams play each other, and let Team $r_1 <$ Team $r_2 < \dots <$ Team $r_n$ denote some fixed ranking (where $r_1,\dots,r_n$ is some permutation of $1,\dots,n$). An upset occurs when a lower ranked team beats an upper ranked team. For each ranking, ${\bf r}$, let $U({\bf r})$ denote the total number of upsets. The minimum upset problem is to find an “efficient” construction of a ranking for which $U({\bf r})$ is as small as possible.

In general, let $A_{ij}$ denote the number of times Team i beat team $j$ minus the number of times Team j beat Team i. We regard this matrix as the signed adjacency matrix of a digraph $\Gamma$. Our goal is to find a Hamiltonian (undirected) path through the vertices of $\Gamma$ which goes the “wrong way” on as few edges as possible.

1. Construct the list of spanning trees of $\Gamma$ (regarded as an undirected graph).
2. Construct the sublist of Hamiltonian paths (from the spanning trees of maximum degree 2).
3. For each Hamiltonian path, compute the associated upset number: the total number of edges transversal in $\Gamma$ going the “right way” minus the total number going the “wrong way.”
4. Locate a Hamiltonian for which this upset number is as large as possible.

Use this sagemath/python code to compute such a Hamiltonian path.

def hamiltonian_paths(Gamma, signed_adjacency_matrix = []):
"""
Returns a list of hamiltonian paths (spanning trees of
max degree <=2).

EXAMPLES:
sage: Gamma = graphs.GridGraph([3,3])
sage: HP = hamiltonian_paths(Gamma)
sage: len(HP)
20
sage: A = matrix(QQ,[
[0 , -1 , 1  , -1 , -1 , -1 ],
[1,   0 ,  -1,  1,  1,   -1  ],
[-1 , 1 ,  0 ,  1 , 1  , -1  ],
[1 , -1 , -1,  0 ,  -1 , -1  ],
[1 , - 1 , - 1 , 1 , 0 , - 1  ],
[1 ,  1  ,  1  , 1  , 1  , 0 ]
])
sage: HP = hamiltonian_paths(Gamma, signed_adjacency_matrix = A)
sage: L = [sum(x[2]) for x in HP]; max(L)
5
sage: L.index(5)
21
sage: HP[21]
[Graph on 6 vertices,
[0, 5, 2, 1, 3, 4],
[-1, 1, -1, -1, -1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, -1]]
sage: L.count(5)
1

"""
ST = Gamma.spanning_trees()
HP = []
for X in ST:
L = X.degree_sequence()
if max(L)<=2:
#print L,ST.index(X), max(L)
HP.append(X)
return HP
HP = []
for X in ST:
L = X.degree_sequence()
if max(L)<=2:
#VX = X.vertices()
EX = X.edges()
if EX[0][1] != EX[-1][1]:
ranking = X.shortest_path(EX[0][0],EX[-1][1])
else:
ranking = X.shortest_path(EX[0][0],EX[-1][0])
signature = [A[ranking[i]][ranking[j]] for i in range(len(ranking)-1) for j in range(i+1,len(ranking))]
HP.append([X,ranking,signature])
return HP



Wessell describes this method in a different way.

1. Construct a matrix, $M=(M_{ij})$, with rows and columns indexed by the teams in some fixed order. The entry in the i-th row and the j-th column is defined by$m_{ij}= \left\{ \begin{array}{rr} 0,& {\rm if\ team\ } i {\rm \ lost\ to\ team\ } j,\\ 1,& {\rm if\ team\ } i {\rm\ beat\ team\ } j,\\ 0, & {\rm if}\ i=j. \end{array} \right.$
2. Reorder the rows (and corresponding columns) to in a basic win-loss order: the teams that won the most games go at the
top of $M$, and those that lost the most at the bottom.
3. Randomly swap rows and their associated columns, each time checking if the
number of upsets has gone down or not from the previous time. If it has gone down, we keep
the swap that just happened, if not we switch the two rows and columns back and try again.

An implementaiton of this in Sagemath/python code is:

def minimum_upset_random(M,N=10):
"""
EXAMPLES:
sage: M = matrix(QQ,[
[0 , 0 , 1  , 0 , 0 , 0 ],
[1,   0 ,  0,  1,  1,   0  ],
[0 , 1 ,  0 ,  1 , 1  , 0  ],
[1 , 0 , 0,  0 ,  0 , 0  ],
[1 , 0 , 0 , 1 , 0 , 0  ],
[1 ,  1  ,  1  , 1  , 1  , 0 ]
])
sage: minimum_upset_random(M)
(
[0 0 1 1 0 1]
[1 0 0 1 0 1]
[0 1 0 0 0 0]
[0 0 1 0 0 0]
[1 1 1 1 0 1]
[0 0 1 1 0 0], [1, 2, 0, 3, 5, 4]
)

"""
n = len(M.rows())
Sn = SymmetricGroup(n)
M1 = M
wins = sum([sum([M1[j][i] for i in range(j,6)]) for j in range(6)])
g0 = Sn(1)
for k in range(N):
g = Sn.random_element()
P = g.matrix()
M0 = P*M1*P^(-1)
if sum([sum([M0[j][i] for i in range(j,6)]) for j in range(6)])>wins:
M1 = M0
g0 = g*g0
return M1,g0(range(n))


Simple unsolved math problem, 3

A perfect number is a positive integer that is equal to the sum of its proper positive divisors, that is, the sum of its positive divisors excluding the number itself. For example,  1 + 2 + 3 = 6 implies 6 is a perfect number.

Unsolved Problem: Are there any odd perfect numbers?

The belief, by some, that there are none goes back over 500 years (wikipedia).

If you want to check out some recent research into this problem, see oddperfect.org.

(Another unsolved problem: Are there an infinite number of even perfect numbers?)

Simple unsolved math problem, 1

In 1937 Lothar Collatz proposed the 3n+1 conjecture (known by a long list of aliases), is stated as follows.

First, we define the function $f$ on the set of positive integers:

If the number $n$ is even, divide it by two: $f(n)=n/2$.
If the number $n$ is odd, triple it and add one: $f(n)=3n+1$.

In modular arithmetic notation, define the function $f$ as follows:
$f(n)= {n/2},\ if \ n\equiv 0 \pmod 2$, and $f(n)= {3n+1},\ if \ n\equiv 1 \pmod 2$. Believe it or not, this is the restriction to the positive integers of the complex-valued map $(2+7z-(2+5z)\cos(\pi z))/4$.

The 3n+1 conjecture is: The sequence
$n,\ f(n),\ f^2(n)=f(f(n)),\ f^3(n)=f(f^2(n)),\ \dots$
will eventually reach the number 1, regardless of which positive integer $n$ is chosen initially.

This is still unsolved, though a lot of people have worked on it. For a recent survey of results, see the paper by Chamberland.

Problem of the week, 137

A former colleague Bill Wardlaw (March 3, 1936-January 2, 2013) used to create a “Problem of the Week” for his US Naval Academy students, giving a prize of a cookie if they could solve it. One of them is given below.

Chain addition is a technique employed in cryptography for extending a short sequence of digits, called the seed to a longer sequence of pseudorandom digits. Quoting David Kahn (in Kahn on Codes, MacMillan, New York, 1983, p. 154), “the first two digits of the [seed] are added together modulo 10 [which means they are added and the carry is neglected] and the result placed at the end of the [sequence], then the second and third digits are added and the sum placed at the end, and so forth, using also the newly generated digits when the [seed] is exhausted, until the desired length is obtained”. Thus, the seed 3964 yields the sequence 3964250675632195… .

Periodic pattern

a. Show that this sequence eventually repeats itself.
b. Show that the sequence begins repeating itself with “3964”.
c. EXTRA CREDIT: How many digits are there before the first repetition of “3964”?

Problem of the week, 148

A former colleague Bill Wardlaw (March 3, 1936-January 2, 2013) used to create a “Problem of the Week” for his US Naval Academy students, giving a prize of a cookie if they could solve it. One of them is given below.

Suppose p and q are each monic polynomials of degree 4 with real coefficients and the intersection of their graphs is {(1, 3), (5, 21)}. If p(3) – q(3) = 20, what is the area enclosed by their graphs?