Spatial Systems Laboratory

A state of the Fully Packed Loop model

(The black lines portray a state of the Fully Packed Loop model. The blue and green colorings between the lines are there just to make it look jazzy. The software that created this picture was written by David Wilson and Matthew Blum.)

The University's of Wisconsin's Spatial Systems Laboratory (that's SSL for short -- pronounced "sizzle") is a gathering of undergraduates, graduate students, and UW faculty engaged in exploring mathematical systems drawn from or inspired by the real world. These models are simple enough for us to simulate and prove theorems about, but rich enough in phenomena that we hope that our explorations will generate insights that may be of interest to people outside of mathematics.

The featured project for Spring 2001 is a team research effort focusing on a class of mathematical models involving tilings. Some of these models have arisen from chemistry and physics, but our main interest will be on mathematical issues. Computers will play a large part in the research. For a graphical introduction to some of the ideas of the project, take a look at Hal Canary's "TOAD-shuffling" program (the source-code for which is also available via a tar file).

The faculty leader this semester is Prof. James Propp, and the graduate supervisor is Michael Lang.

Here's a description of what we're working on; or, if you prefer Postscript to PDF, click here. This is a reworking of the poster that we contributed to the University of Wisconsin's Third Annual Undergraduate Research Symposium held on April 4, 2001.

You can read the minutes of all the SSL meetings that were held during Spring 2001. Or you can just look at our group tee-shirt.

For a web-page describing earlier work by undergraduates on this topic, check out the web-page of the Boston area Tilings Research Group. Stay tuned for more details!

SSL undergraduate participants meet for 4 hours a week, and are expected to invest roughly 6 additional hours per week outside of group meetings. They are paid on an hourly basis.

You can also find out who has been involved in SSL in past semesters, and what they've done, by visiting our vault.

The Spatial Systems Laboratory during Spring 2001 consists of the following people:

Undergraduate participants:
Hal Canary
Rachel Dahl
Geir Helleloid
Kristin Jehring
Dominic Johann-Berkel
Pavle Juranic
Dan Luu
Nick Pongratz
Joel Scherpelz
Abraham Smith
Active alums:
Boytcho Peytchev
Graduate students:
Michael Lang
Principal investigator:
Prof. Jim Propp : (608) 263-5148

SSL is sponsored by the National Science Foundation through their VIGRE (Vertical Integration of Graduate Research and Education) program, with supplemental support from the National Science Foundation's REU (Research Experiences for Undergraduates) program and from the National Security Agency. Additional funding was provided by NSF under Grant No. 9971884.

This page maintained by Jim Propp
Last updated June 20, 2002.