Recently Assistant Professor Sarah Wolff presented her research to the Denison Scientific Association in a presentation entitled A random walk through algebra. She started the talk with the easily stated question, How many shuffles does it take to completely randomize a deck of cards? As we saw, this simple question, answered by Persi Diaconis in 1986, opens up an entire world of mathematics: the theory of randomness.
Dr. Wolff developed and analyzed the random walk that arises from shuffling a deck of cards and then applied these ideas to other structures such as tangle diagrams. There are even implications that this work may some day be used to help explain the tangling of DNA.