"Mathematical Database" — Essay Competition — Prizing Ceremony

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Mathematical Database Essay Competition — Details of Prizing Ceremony

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1. Basic information

Date: 28 May 2005 (Sat) Time: 3:00 pm to 4:30 pm Venue: Lecture Theatre T6, 1/F, Ming Wah Complex, the University of Hong Kong

2. Schedule

2:45pm – 3:00pm Registration
3:00pm – 3:05pm Welcoming Speech
3:05pm – 3:10pm Speech by our honorable guests
3:10pm – 4:00pm Mathematics talk by Professor Siu (on allocation problems) (Abstract)
4:00pm – 4:10pm Prize giving and presentation of souvenirs
4:10pm – 4:30pm Sharing session with our judges and display of prize winning essays

We are honoured to have Professor M.K. Siu, the Head of the Department of Mathematics of the University of Hong Kong, Professor Thomas K.K. Au of the Mathematics Department of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Professor K.Y. Li of the Mathematics Department of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, to be our judges and honorable guests in the prizing ceremony.

In the ceremony, Professor Siu will give a talk on some interesting allocation problems. There will also be a sharing session after the prizing ceremony, in which the audience can freely chat with our honorable guests on a wide range of topics. Some prize winning essays will also be displayed.

This activity is open to public. To facilitate the arrangements of the ceremony, for those who will join us at the ceremony, please register here.

3. Online registration

This activity has been held successfully. Thanks for your support!

4. Map to the venue (The venue is on the 1st floor of the building that is marked on the map by the index “9”.)

5. Abstract of the talk

As a saying goes, “It is easier to share the sufferings in the hard times than to share the delights in the good times”. If you are a boss of a big company, this may well apply to your situation. A huge labour force works hard to make a profit for your company. What is a fair way to share the profit among the employees?

Let us consider the following situation:

A is the owner of a factory and B, C, D are his employees. A cannot operate the factory alone; therefore he employs B as the manager. A and B together earns for the company $1M. If A hires C or D as a worker, the factory earns a total of $5M. If both C and D are hired as workers, then the factory earns a total of $20M. However, the factory cannot operate without the owner A or the manager B. Can you suggest a fair way to share the profit of $20M among the four persons?

Many such allocation problems arise in everyday life: for instance, allocating work among persons who share a certain profit or prize, sharing the expense in a dinner, apportioning seats of legislators for different districts.

There are also interesting allocation problems in the history of mathematics. A famous one is about the proper distribution of stakes in the midst of a gambling game. Many mathematicians, including Fermat and Pascal, gave solutions to this problem, fostering the development of probability theory.

To understand such allocation problems, one only needs a fairly minimal amount of mathematical knowledge. However, this can be great fun, as will be illustrated in Professor Siu’s talk. Let us share this in the expository talk of Professor Siu, which is open to public!

6. Enquiry

Should there be any question concerning the prizing ceremony, please send us an email at essay@mathdb.org.