ALBANY, N.Y. (March 12, 2021) – The month of March is underway, which means the NCAA basketball tradition of March Madness is on the horizon. This year’s tournaments, set to begin on March 18 for men’s teams and March 21 for women’s teams, will hold special significance after the 2020 editions were canceled due to COVID-19. It’s also the month in which we mark Pi Day, March 14 (3.14 – Pi’s approximation), an annual celebration of all things related to mathematics, especially enjoyed with a slice of a pie.

The events may seem to have little in common at first glance, but for bracketologists attempting to correctly predict the outcome of 63 games played between 68 teams, the synergies are undeniable. According to writer Daniel Wilco, the odds of a getting a perfect bracket by flipping a coin or randomly guessing are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808 – that’s one in nine quintillion. For those with some expertise, the odds are closer to 1 in 120 billion. Either way, the statistical models are mathematically mind-boggling.

UAlbany mathematics experts are available to discuss Pi Day, the statistics behind March Madness brackets and a host of other issues related to how mathematics plays a central role in our daily lives.

Faculty experts include:

Cristian Lenart, Professor of Mathematics: Lenart’s research interests include algebraic combinatorics, machine learning and clustering. Lenart can discuss how mathematical patterns exist in science and the arts, including music, dance, poetry, painting, sculpture and architecture.

Boris Goldfarb, Associate Professor of Mathematics: Goldfarb’s areas of research include algebraic and geometric topology, including applications for machine learning and artificial intelligence.

Karin Reinhold, Associate Professor of Mathematics: Reinhold’s research interests include ergodic theory with connections to harmonic analysis and probability.  She has taught courses on probability for statistics and introduction to statistical inference.

Igor Zurbenko, Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics: Zurbenko’s areas of research include time series and spatial data analysis. His research has applications in the study of environmental pollutants, climate, social and economic data, and health and biomedical data.


About the University at Albany:

A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, businesseducation, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare and sociology, taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.