First Math Union Guest Speaker Series (MUGS) with Jonathan Love

Join us this Tuesday on Oct 8th, 2015, 4:00-6:00PM (Talk beings at 4:30PM) for our first installment of this year’s MUGS series with Jonathan Love. Jonathan used to be the president of MU in 2012-2013. Currently he is furthering his education in the University of Toronto as a first year Master student in Mathematics. In his spare time, he plays different kinds of musical instruments and he does theater acting. His skills in music and acting and his passion in teaching, no doubt, is going to bring the classroom environment alive.
Refreshments will be provided. Hope to see you there.

Location: To be determined.

Abstract: There’s more than one way to measure size and distance in the rational numbers! After describing a few of these exotic absolute values (focusing on the p-adic absolute values for each prime number p), we’ll prove Ostrowski’s Theorem, which provides a classification of all possible absolute values on the rationals. For such a deep theorem, the proof remarkably requires no prerequisites beyond a high school math background, so this talk is especially suited for first or second year students who want to see what the proof of a significant mathematical result looks like.

MU Orientation 2015

You’re invited to the Math Union Orientation September 24th, 2015 (Thursday) at BA6183 from 4:30 to 7:00PM to find out what Math Union has in store for you this year!

We will be hosting a Q&A session for all first year math classes. If you’re a first year, this is a great chance meet upper year students, connect with your classmates, and ask your questions! Even if you’re not a first year, come anyway because we will be hosting games and providing refreshments. We will also have a meet and greet with our new Math Union executives. Hope to see you all there.

2015 MU Elections Program

Here is the plan for Thursday’s elections.
6-7pm: Statements and Question Periods
0. Location: Bahen Centre 6183
1. Acclaimed statements (max 3 min each): Adriano, Annie, David, Yao
2. Question period for the 4 above together (max 10 min total)
3. Treasurer statements (max 3 min each): Robertson, Sadia
4. Question period for the 2 Treasurer candidates (max 10 min total)
5. President statements (max 3 min each): Danny, Rachel, Ryan
6. Question period for the 3 President candidates (max 10 min total)
7. NOTE: Constitutionally, all campaigning must cease at 7pm sharp. This is ASSU law.
Regarding the question periods, questions may be sent to me in advance to be read anonymously, or a member may ask in person. Each question may be directed to an individual – or to the full group standing, in which case each person standing has to answer. If a question is asked such that I deem it to be inappropriate, or if the ensuing discussion proves to be unproductive, I will move on to the next question or I will end the question period.


Regarding the question periods, questions may be sent to me in advance to be read anonymously, or a member may ask in person. Each question may be directed to an individual – or to the full group standing, in which case each person standing has to answer. If a question is asked such that I deem it to be inappropriate, or if the ensuing discussion proves to be unproductive, I will move on to the next question or I will end the question period.
7-9pm: Voting and Refreshments
0. Refreshments will be served in BA 6183, so that people can socialize while they wait to vote or after they vote.
1. Voting will take place either in BA 6180, or the lounge outside Dr. Bar-Natan’s office (both are seconds away from BA 6183), or in the hallway outside BA 6183. It will be by secret ballot.
2. Voters will be required to sign in and prove their voting eligibility by logging into their ROSI accounts. Laptops will be provided.
3. MU execs will be placed at the Bahen doors in front of St. George and the 6th floor doors by the main staircase, in order to ensure that all voters have access to the voting location.
4. Michael and I will count ballots at 9pm, and the results will be made official by posting on the MU website and the MU Facebook group by 11:59pm.

~ Samer Seraj, MU president

2015 MU Elections

There are 3 candidates for President and 2 candidates for Treasurer. The other Core positions (Secretary, VP Communication, VP Academic, VP Social) each had one candidate, so they have been won by default.

Speeches and question period will be 6-7pm. Secret ballot voting hours will be 7-9pm.

Vote eligibility criteria:
1. Be a full-time undergraduate student at U of T.
2. Be enrolled in a program in the Faculty of Arts and Science.
3. Satisfy least one of the following two conditions:
… a. Currently enrolled in an MAT or APM course.
… b. Currently enrolled in a math program (specialist, major, minor).
Specifically, students in other faculties, like Engineering or Rotman, may not vote if they are not concurrently in an A & S program. Every voter will be required to verify their eligibility by logging into ROSI before voting.

Voting logistics:
The 6th floor of Bahen might become inaccessible by elevator sometime during 8-9pm. Voters arriving during that time are advised to take the elevator to the 5th floor, walk up to the 6th floor via the main Bahen staircase and knock on the door on the 6th floor. Someone will be placed there to open it for voters.  Access to Bahen might also be restricted. Someone will be placed at the front entrance of Bahen to grant access.

Regarding campaigning:
1. To prevent MU groups from becoming a mess, the current Core agreed against campaigning on our general group and study groups.
2. Campaigning elsewhere like this event page, your wall, websites, other FB groups, etc. is up to you.
3. Constitutionally: “No campaigning, in any form, may take place once the balloting for the election has started.” So 7pm.

Good luck to all. Here are the candidates and their statements:


Voting Positions (ie. more than one candidate):


Danny Luo
Hello! I’m Danny Luo. I am a first year student in the Physics and Mathematics Specialist Program. I want to be your Math Union President.
Academic Events:
Academics Events are the reason why I joined the Math Union Execs. Talks and seminars stimulate our brains outside of class and can inspire us to pursue certain fields of mathematics. I will ensure that the Math Union will continue to host undergraduate talks, such as the MUGS and MACS series.
Social Events:
Sometimes, we all need a break from math. Social events are where we can get to know each other outside of class. I will dedicate myself to providing multiple social events, such as movie nights, pub nights and socials.
Course Union:
At the end of the day, we are a course union, which means we are dedicated to giving you support and representation regarding your academics in math. Under my presidency, the Math Union will always be open to your problems.
I have been an active member of the Math Union and I will work tirelessly to keep Math Union in the highest esteem, after the tremendous efforts of our previous president, Sams.
Vote Danny Luo

Rachel C. Lo
I ask for your support and vote to be the next president of Math Union because I believe I can amount to improvements and develop a more harmonious and dynamic Math Union for YOU.
I currently hold the position as a VP Academic of MU. During this year, I have been an advocate of a stronger cohesion of the union. With my experiences as part of MU, I believe I am able to accomplish my goals. Thus far, I have been in charge of the annual booksale in Sept. 2014 and successfully raised over $2000. I have also organized a series of Math Union Guest Speakers’ series (MUGs), coordinated the joint union MASSive Spring Social with Statistical Sciences Association of Students and Actuarial Science Club, and many more. I would be honoured and delighted to continue to serve you as the president of the Math Union and make the upcoming year prosper.
If elected to this position, I pledge to you:
- Push for events that unite the Mathematics Department (E.g. MUGs, Pub nights, Paint ball)
- Make more collaborations with other academic unions
- Assist upper year students in the transition from school to workplace (E.g. Career events, Networking sessions with Alumni)

Ryan Downes
I am currently the Math Union VP of Communication and during this position the math union had increased its social media reach by more than 10 fold. When I ran for VP of Communication my goal was to extend the reach of the union. Through the on-line study groups, and organizing the unions advertising we now reach 2500 students.
As President, I will focus on fostering a community for student interaction. I will extend the current study groups to second and third-year classes. I will host the talks that math union is known for and would like to host talks specifically geared to first-year students to welcome them in September. I will have events like pi day and semester socials where we as a community can come to socialize. I realize that people running for the other positions will also have goals they would like to achieve and I will be a person there to help them make math union a success.


Robertson McClure
My primary goal, if I get elected, is to make the Math Union more efficient. My experience with the Math Union has been as an officer. I have attended every meeting required of me and shown up to numerous events. From my time seeing how the union runs from behind the scenes I realize that it is not the most efficient organism.
As treasurer, not only will be deal with the Union’s budget, but will also work closely with the president to advise and aid in the execution of their vision for the Union. Specifically I want to overhaul how the Math Union holds meetings amongst its core exec, as I feel it is not living up to its potential as time and discussions are not used efficiently.
Skills that will aid me in my endeavours is my second major, computer science. I intend to digitize as much as I can for a more efficiently run Union. All in all, I am a hard working detailed oriented individual who has a passion for efficiency. Proof of this is being able juggling Math and Computer Science double major, Varsity Volleyball, being a math tutor and still having a personal life.

Sadia Ahmed
With this statement I seek election as Math Union Treasurer. I became a Math Union member is 2013, and am currently working to get more involved and serve the union members as the treasurer for the year 2015-16.
As the president of the Student Council at my high school, I am familiar with the organizational development and management of large academic associations and wish to use this knowledge and expertise as your treasurer.
If I am elected as your Treasurer, I will implement financial policies which ensure the long-term sustainability of the organization, that are characterized by professionalism and transparency, and that allow to address the needs of the wide diversity of Math Union members as much as possible. I plan to start projects like fundraising dinners and start a small refreshment cafe in any Math building at the University of Toronto. With the profits of the venture, we could add services given to MU members and reduce the cost of MU accessories.
If history is any indication, I have proven my ability to achieve results and not just make empty promises. If you place your confidence in me and elect me as your next Math Union treasurer, I assure you that your concerns will become my concerns.


Acclaimed positions:


Adriano Pacifico
Hello friends and fellow math students,
I am going into second year with the intent to declare a math specialist. I have already participated in MU as a first year representative and we have managed to accomplish a great year together. As secretary, I intend to work for you – the student body. A group such as MU needs a responsible secretary to remain effective and coordinated. I hope to keep the MU organised and focused. My goals are to ensure that everything is kept on track and that meetings run smoothly, so that the MU may provide you with chances to meet new people at socials and discover new topics at academic talks. I hope we’ll have a great year together.
Remember at the ballot box, don’t vote no when you can vote Adriano. #PickPacifico

Vice President Communication

Annie Le
I am Annie Le, and I am a first year, taking specialist courses 247 and 157. I currently am one of the Officers for the academic year 2014-2015, and I intend to run for Vice President Communication for the upcoming year. This year, together with our Vice President, Secretary and Bluekey education, I helped with the organization of a free midterm review session for MAT136 students. I am also one of the admins running Math Union Facebook study groups for first years in MAT157, MAT137, MAT133, MAT135, and MAT136 students. I intend to widen the focus of the Union. In other words, instead of focusing our student events and purposes on Math Specialists, I want our events next year to also target Math Majors and Minors, as well as science students taking math courses. In addition, I want to extend our study groups to second year math students, and again – organizing as many free study sessions for our students as we can. I look forward to be able to make your upcoming academic year a wonderful one.

Vice President Academic

David V. Pechersky
My name is David Pechersky. I am a math specialist, soon to be entering my 3rd year, and I am running for the position of VP Academic. This year I was an officer in the math union where I was involved in the logistics behind various MU events, ensuring that talks ran smoothly and refreshments were always provided. I also helped organize and coordinate the successful MACS (Math and Computer Science) mini-series which I’m sure some of you are aware of.
As VP Academic, my primary focus for next year would be ensuring the continuation of the biweekly MUGS (Math Union Guest Speaker) talks. That means maintaining communication between MU and the U of T math department, reaching out to profs, and coordinating with others in MU to ensure that talks are well- advertised and run smoothly. I’m also interested in looking beyond the U of T math department, reaching out to notable mathematicians who might be involved in symposia at the Fields Institute, as well as leveraging U of T’s alumni network. This year we had the MACS mini-series, done jointly with the Undergraduate Theory Group, and if elected, I intend to actively look for ways in which MU can collaborate with other student groups with similar interests.

Vice President Social

Yao Lu
Hi everyone, my name is Yao, a current officer at Math Union. This year, I have helped to organized several socials, including the MASSive Spring Social earlier in March. I am also in charge of the promotion for our Guest Speaker Series, and have been creating posters for these talks.
Over the year, I enjoyed myself working for the math population, and am willing to take a step further to take on more responsibilities. I am looking forward to be your VP-Social next year. If I am honored with this position, I will:
1) Continue to organize social events as she already did this year, for example, games night and the hart house socials.
2) Strengthen the connections between MU and other unions through social events. 3) Strive to organize a “social with profs”, during which you get a chance to ask for research opportunities, post-graduate plans, etc. Thank you for your support!


The detailed executive roles in MU are outlined in the constitution.

2013-2014 Elections Update

Hello everyone,

Friday April 4 is not a good time for everyone, so we have arranged more options for candidates and voters.

Candidate speeches and voting

(Session 1)
When: Wednesday April 2 @ 4:20 PM
Where: BA B025

(Session 2)
When: Friday April 4 @ 10:30 AM
Where: BA B024 (note the change of room!)

Candidates and voters are all invited to hear the speeches of candidates during these two session and vote. Free snacks  will be provided!
Candidates are recommended to attend both sessions if possible.

Extra voting hours

Voters can also submit ballots in the Math Specialist Lounge (BA 6202) on Thursday April 3 @ 2 PM to 6 PM.


To Candidates
Please email both Gal Gross ( and Michael Yu ( a short bio and campaign platform by Wednesday if you have not done so already.

To Voters
Bring your T-card when you come to vote.

The bio/platforms of the candidates are here. And again for candidates, here is the link to the description of each position.

2013-2014 Elections

Open Positions at the Undergraduate Mathematics Union!
Make a difference! Join the Mathematics Union!
The Undergraduate Mathematics Union (MU) has a lot to offer to all U of T students who are interested in mathematics. We have funding, we have resources, and we got the power! Make a difference by running for a position, or simply by voting in the elections! Free Snacks :-)
WHAT? Elections!
WHEN? 10:30am, Friday April 4th.
WHERE? Specialist Lounge, 6th floor Bahen Centre.
Please see the document Roles and Responsibilities for a short description of all the positions at the union. If you are interested in running for a position, please send a short bio\platform to Gal Gross at
Now is your chance to make a difference!
Gal G.
MU President.

MUMS Talk February 14 – Paul Sacawa: “Universal Algebra using the language of Category Theory”

Hi everyone,

The next Mums talk will occur next Friday 14. It will be an introduction to the principles of universal algebra using categorical notions. In particular, we want to impress on the listener the importance of the notion of universal constructions in algebra. The beauty of universal algebra and category theory lies in their broad descriptive power, rather than in their depth.

Time: 5pm – 7pm, Friday February 14, 2014
Location: TBD (somewhere in BA, check Facebook for the update)
Speaker: Paul Sacawa
Title: Universal Algebra using the Language of Category Theory

Abstract: An introduction to universal algebra using the language of category theory. Cats, functors, universal constructions; omega-algebras, free objects, varieties, and the isomorphism theorems. We end by describing some universal constructions with easy descriptions in varietal categories.
Intended audience: It’s enough to know some basic algebra (which we use just as examples): group, normal subgroup, quotient group, ring, ideal, quotient ring. It would be nice to come in with the idea of categories in your head.

MUMS Talk January 24 – Paul Sacawa: “Computational Complexity and the Cook-Levin Theorem”

Hi everyone,

This talk already occurred. Here is the writeup. Notes from the available upon request (send me an email).

Time: 5pm – 7pm, Friday January 24
Location: BA 6183
Speaker: Paul Sacawa
Title: Computational Complexity and Cook-Levin Theorem

Abstract: An introduction to the modelling of computation, computability, connections to incompleteness in logic, time complexity of problems, completeness in the class NP, and a proof of the Cook-Levin theorem. We’ll end by discussing a modern approach to the famous P v. NP problem based in geometry if there’s time.
The whole talk will be very elementary.

Public lecture – Prof. James Brown: “Proofs and Pictures: The Role of Visualization in Mathematical and Scientific Reasoning”

Hello everyone,

You are cordially invited to a free public lecture hosted by the
Mathematics Undergraduate Union. This Thursday, Nov. 28th, 4-6 pm at

The subject of the talk is “Proofs and Pictures: The Role of
Visualization in Mathematical and Scientific Reasoning.” Given by
Prof. James Brown a philosopher of science and mathematics. More
details below.

Prof. James Brown is a professor of philosophy here at the University
of Toronto. His areas of interests are the philosophy of science and
the philosophy of mathematics. He is one of the foremost modern
advocates of Platonism in the philosophy of mathematics. In the
philosophy of science he is most widely known for his ideas about
thought experiments. In 2007 he was chosen to be a fellow of the Royal
Society of Canada.

Among his numerous books are “Philosophy of Mathematics: An
Introduction to the World of Proofs and Pictures”, “The Laboratory of
the Mind: Thought Experiments in the Natural Sciences”; and a new
books published in 2012: “Platonism, Naturalism, and Mathematical

MUMS Talk November 7 – Samer Seraj: “On Diffusion”

Hi everyone,

This Thursday, Samer Seraj, and undergraduate student here at UofT, will be giving a talk on his original research in cryptographic security. In his talk titled “On Diffusion”, Samer will outline the ideas of his solution to an open problem in security posed to him in an undergraduate research course. Spanning more than one year of work, Samer  prepares from his latest results, in conjunction with materials from his earlier talk in Normandy, the awaited conclusion to his research. Samer will finish his talk by proposing 3 open problems to the audience as directions for further research. This talk is accessible to math students in all years of study at UofT.


Time: 4pm – 5pm, Thursday November 7

Location: BA B024 (Basement of Bahen centre)

Speaker: Samer Seraj

Title: On Diffusion

Abstract: We first precisely define the space and structure of cryptographic information. We then proceed to compare two rival definitions of diffusive (scrambling) functions between such spaces, and produce optimal versions of each. The interesting fact is that some use the two definitions interchangeably, but they are quite different. Finally, we propose new directions of research and open problems. The material is from a paper by the speaker, under the supervision of Dr. Kumar Murty.