Breaking Drivers License Codes

Speaker: Joe Gallian, University of Minnesota-Duluth

Date & Time:

Monday, April 27, 2015
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM


Owens Science Center (OWS 150)

Joe Gallian

Abstract:  Many states use complicated algorithms or formulas to assign driver's license numbers but keep the method confidential. Just for the fun of it, I attempted to figure out how the states code their license numbers. In this talk I will discuss how I was able to break the original code for Minnesota (Minnesota changed it coding method in the early 2000s) and the current one for Missouri. The talk illustrates an important problem-solving technique used by scientists but is not emphasized in mathematics classes. It also teaches the lesson that sometimes things done just for the sake of curiosity can have applications. The talk is intended for a general audience. No advanced mathematics is needed.

Biographical Information: Joe Gallian received a Ph. D. from Notre Dame in 1971.  He has been at the University of Minnesota Duluth since 1972. He is the author of the book "Contemporary Abstract Algebra" (8th edition) and co-author of the book "For All Practical Purposes" (9th edition). His research interests include groups, graphs, and combinatorics.  He has published more than 100 articles and has given over 250 invited lectures at colleges, universities, and conferences. He has directed summer research programs for undergraduate students since 1977. Over 200 papers written in the program have been published in professional-level research journals. Eleven program alumni have received the AMS-MAA-SIAM Morgan Prize for research, 14 have won the Association for Women Alice Schafer Prize, and 123 have received a Ph.D. degree. He has received teaching awards from the Mathematical Association of America (MAA), the Carnegie Foundation, the University of Minnesota, and UMD. He is the past President of the MAA and an Inaugural Fellow of the American Mathematical Society. His work has been funded for 40 years by the National Science Foundation and 29 years by the National Security Agency.

Video of Professor Gallian's talk is available here.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.