May Mei

May Mei

Associate Professor
Beverly Fleischmann Endowed Professor
Chair of Mathematics
Position Type
- Present

May Mei an associate professor of mathematics at Denison University. On her way there, she received her PhD from the University of California, Irvine under the direction of Anton Gorodetski and her BA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Prof. Mei’s favorite thing in the universe is probably a nice meal at a fancy restaurant. But someone she respects greatly told her (over a nice meal at a fancy restaurant) that she needed hobbies that aren’t eating. She has since dabbled in running, powerlifting, weightlifting, and climbing.

B.A., University of California, Berkeley; M.S., Ph.D., University of California, Irvine



One of my research interests involves the application of dynamical systems (uniformly hyperbolic, partially hyperbolic, symbolic) to mathematical physics. Specifically, I use dynamical techniques to investigate spectral properties of operators involved in the study of quasicrystals. I'm also interested in conducting numerical experiments related to the long-term behavior of several specific dynamical systems.

Another one of my research interests lies in number theory and integer sequences. Think of a number, now square the digits and sum that. What do you get? If you keep iterating this procedure, you will either end up at a 1 or a 4. If you end up at a 1, the number you started with is called a happy number. I study several generalizations of this procedure.

Both of these areas have many possibilities for undergraduate research.


  • S. Chin-Parker, S. Cowling, M. Mei, The Explanatory Value of Mathematical Information in Everyday Explanations. CogSci (2019), 1499-1505.
  • B. Baker Swart, S. Crook, L. Hall-Seelig, H. G. Grundman, M. Mei, and L. Zack, Fixed Points of Augmented Generalized Happy Functions II: Oases and Mirages, J. Integer Seq. 22 (2019), no. 5, Art. 19.5.5.
  • J. Fillman and M. Mei, Spectral properties of continuum Fibonacci Schrödinger operators, Ann. Henri Poincaré 19 (2018), no. 1, 237-247.
  • B. Baker Swart, K. A. Beck, S. Crook, C. Eubanks-Turner, H. G. Grundman, M. Mei, and L. Zack, Fixed points of augmented generalized happy functions, Rocky Mountain J. Math. 48 (2018), no. 1, 47-58.
  • M. Mei and A. Read-McFarland, Numbers and the heights of their happiness, Involve 11 (2018), no. 2, 235-241.
  • B. Baker Swart, K. A. Beck, S. Crook, C. Eubanks-Turner, H. G. Grundman, M. Mei, and L. Zack, Augmented generalized happy functions, Rocky Mountain J. Math. 47 (2017), no. 2, 403-417.
  • M. Mei and W. Yessen, Tridiagonal substitution Hamiltonians, Math. Model. Nat. Phenom. 9 (2014), no. 5, 204-238.
  • M. Mei, Spectra of discrete Schrödinger operators with primitive invertible substitution potentials, J. Math. Phys. 55 (2014), no. 8, 082701, 22.


Student Collaborations

Selected student research projects:

  • Z. Fang ‘23, R. Goel ‘24, M. Hong ‘22
    The Game of Life on Penrose Tilings.
  • N. Harris ‘20, H. LeBlanc ‘20, and A. Tubbs ‘20
    Algorithmic Investigation of Graph Laplacians Associated with Substitution Tilings
  • A. Read-McFarland ‘17
    Numbers and the Heights of Their Happiness.