University of Oregon Department of Mathematics Colloquium Guidelines

First of all, we would like to thank all our colloquium speakers for agreeing to speak! We understand how much time and energy it takes to prepare a colloquium, and we very much appreciate your willingness to visit.

We would like the colloquium to be an event where everyone in the department can come together, learn some new mathematics, and enjoy themselves. To help with this we have prepared a set of guidelines for talks, which we give to all speakers. These are not absolute rules, but we hope you will take a look at them and make a serious effort to follow them.

Colloquium guidelines

  1. The talk doesn't have to be about your own work. If you do choose to talk about your work, it doesn't have to be your latest work.

    We hope you will introduce us to something of recent interest in your field (say, from the last several years); something that you find exciting. Since most of the audience will be from outside your field, it would be helpful if you can also set your topic in a broader context. If your talk is about a recently solved problem, for instance, we hope you will tell us something about why this problem is important.

  2. We really want graduate students to get something out of these talks. We suggest that approximately the first twenty minutes of your talk be accessible to graduate students who have completed our first-year courses, and that the level of the talk gradually increase from there.

    Please remember that even among the professional mathematicians in the audience, the majority will not be intimately familiar with your area. If you are going to present some technical details aimed at experts, we ask that you limit them to the last ten minutes of the talk.

  3. We understand that it can be very difficult to introduce, in one hour, everything about your field necessary for us to understand a current topic. In many cases it is probably impossible; the art of giving a colloquium talk is figuring out what is possible along these lines.

    To help with this, keep in mind that definitions and results do not always have to be described at a completely rigorous level. If one needs to talk about vector bundles (a topic not taught in basic topology courses), for instance, it is probably enough just to say in words what they are and draw a picture.

  4. The colloquium is scheduled to be 50 minutes long.

Here are some other resources which discuss what makes a good colloquium. They might give you some good ideas:

  • How to give a good colloquium, by John E. McCarthy.
  • How to talk mathematics, by Paul Halmos, AMS Notices 21(1974), 155--158.
  • What is a colloquium, by A. R. Sourour.

    Again, thank you for agreeing to give a talk (and thank you for reading this far).

    Return to the colloquium schedule.