Math student and professor published in International Journal of Algebra

November 12, 2013

By Margaret Cipriano ‘15

What started out as a homework assignment turned into a collaboration and international publication for senior math major Audrey Nelson and Dr. George Szeto, professor of mathematics. A month of working several theorems led to a presentation for the Mathematics department colloquium and publication in the International Journal of Algebra.

Nelson began work on the Galois Theory in Szeto’s Modern Algebra II course. The theory, developed by 19th Century mathematician Evariste Galois, simplifies some algebraic operations by combining group and field theory. Szeto applied this theory to analyze relations between group theory and algebraic objects called rings. After assigning the homework problems, Dr. Szeto found Nelson could do both successfully.

“Undergraduate students who are able to solve these problems should be able to handle more challenging problems,” said Szeto.

To further challenge Nelson, Szeto assigned two more homework problems that applied the theory to different situations.

“Normally, in mathematics, this type of work is not easy because you want to bring the student to the frontline and you must go through a thorough systematic study. From undergraduate work to the research front takes a very long time, but Audrey can now use her background with this research for future studies,” Szeto said. “I’m lucky to have a good student like Audrey. It’s not easy to find a student who is interested in doing new things in mathematics, especially an undergraduate who is able to do this type of complicated work.”

Nelson appreciated the challenge of tackling graduate-level analysis with the faculty.

“It really helps getting to know the professors because it’s nice to do extracurricular activities and learn graduate level material before you're in graduate level classes,” Nelson said.

The International Journal of Algebra is a refereed journal publishing high quality original research in all branches of pure and applied algebra as well as related pure mathematical sciences.