Important Information for Speakers


Our scheduling this term is roughly as follows:

  • 5:30 to 6:15: Speaker 1 time

  • 6:15 to 6:20: Break time

  • 6:20 to 7:05: Speaker 2 time

Speaker 1 may field questions in any excess allocated time and during the break time, and Speaker 2 may field questions after their talk ends for an indefinite amount of time.

Talks will start on time no matter who shows up late (except the speaker, of course, but the speaker should avoid showing up late).

Talks must end before or after the allocated end time. To respect the time of other speakers and listeners, speakers with extra content should post it onto the website. Try to keep the talk to 40 minutes.

Choosing a Topic

While choosing a topic, please keep the following in mind:

Topic you are familiar with

Make your topic accessible to the audience. Much of the audience will be first and second years! Keep in mind that you don’t have to be completely precise; hence don’t worry about choosing topics that only have linear algebra or calculus as prerequisites.

Your job as a speaker is to synthesize the material and provide “big picture” ideas and relevant motivation. Choose topics that lend themselves to this. For example: “Knots and Links” is more suitable than “Group Cohomology”.

Topic you plan to learn more about

Choose specific topics. For example: “Applications of Expander Graphs” is a better topic than “Graph Theory”. It is hard to synthesize material! Focus on a small topic and motivate it by providing history, context, and further possibilities.

Ensure you have sufficient resources, but don’t go overboard. Know most of the resources you’ll use before signing up, but don’t give yourself too much work — this seminar is meant to be “fun” not “work”. Ask us for feedback if you don’t know whether a topic is manageable.


  • While you may feel free to change your topic at any time, we recommend leaving enough time to sufficiently prepare for your talk. Please notify us of any topic changes as soon as possible.

  • Prepare your abstract at least one week in advance of your talk. This is not a soft deadline. If your abstract is not ready at least one week in advance of your talk, we may cancel your talk.

  • If you feel that you will not be able to adequately prepare for your talk in time, do not hesitate to contact us. We will try to reschedule your talk.


  • If you decide to prepare notes for your talk, we would appreciate if you could send them to us to use for inclusion on the website.

  • Notes must be translated into Markdown, but we will accept notes in any format and will try our best to convert it to Markdown.


  • Please come in time for your talk.

  • If you are not confident about your talk, please contact us and request that we hold a session to go over it.

  • Please make the effort to attend as many talks as possible. The seminar is about both teaching and learning.

  • If your talk is being recorded, and someone asks a question, please repeat that question for the microphone.

  • Please read Chris Godsil’s comments on how to deliver a good talk.