Distinguished Lecture: Interpreting Data

Title: Distinguished Lecture:  Interpreting Data
Speaker: Dr. M.R. Currie, US Department of Defense

Wednesday, September 26, 2012, 4:00 - 5:00 PM, Marksbury Building Theater

So you have your X-chromosome data and you want to analyze this DNA for bio-geographical contributions dating from the Colonial period.  The problem is that you're a bit queasy around applicable mathematics, having spent too much time up in the Ivory Tower.  This is really a tutorial on Hidden Markov Models that chronicles my struggles while taking on this challenge.  The example is drawn from genetic genealogy, but the talk is completely self-contained and accessible to undergraduates who at some point have heard the phrase <conditional probability.> Actually, I don't remember having heard much more than that myself before I began this project.

And yes, I'll leave time to answer questions about NSA, or at least try to.

Speaker's bio: Dr. Melvin R. Currie
EDUCATION: After receiving a BA degree in Mathematics and Economics from Yale
College in 1970, Dr. Currie worked in his hometown Pittsburgh as an economic
analyst with Gulf Oil Corporation. He then spent three years in Germany, where
he taught algebra in the Düsseldorf public school system. After returning from
Germany, he earned MA and PhD degrees in mathematics at the University of

PROFESSIONAL BACKGROUND: Dr. Currie joined the National Security Agency in 1990
and in 1994 became chief of the Cryptomathematical Applications Branch. He
moved to the Cryptography Office in 1996, where he was most recently Chief of
the Cryptographic Research and Design Division, the Codemakers. He currently
serves as the Research Advocate reporting directly to the Director of Research,
NSA.CAREER: Dr. Currie began his professional career in mathematics as a professor,
holding positions at Auburn University and the University of Richmond. He
served for more than a decade as a reviewer for the American Mathematical
Society's Reviews. Dr. Currie is a member of the National Association of
Mathematicians (NAM), a group founded by leading mathematicians in the African
American community. In 1999, he was chosen to deliver the David Blackwell
Invited Address at the Mathematical Society of America's MathFest. He also gave
the J.  Ernest Wilkins Lecture at MathFest2009, hosted by NAM.
HONORS: Dr. Currie is the inaugural recipient of the Crypto-Mathematics
Institute's Leadership Award, which was presented to him on the occasion of the
organization's fiftieth anniversary in June 2007.  The award cited his
leadership in promoting research in quantum computing algorithms and his
contributions to the Math Hiring Process. He was elevated to Defense
Intelligence Senior Level (DISL) in June, 2008. From 2009-2012 he served as a
Senior Advocate for the American Indian/Alaskan Native Employee Research Group
and is currently President of the Crypto-Mathematics Institute.
PERSONAL: He is an avid genealogist using both conventional tools and DNA. His
other interests include playing the piano and composing for that instrument,
although he never plays in public. Dr. Currie just finished writing his first
novel for the fourth time and has been involved with German language and
literature since his youth. He, his wife, and their daughter live in a
200-year-old stone house in Baltimore.

HOST: Dr. V.W. Marek