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Applied Mathematics News

Keyword: in the classroom

Applied Mathematics majors, Gerald Roman-Gonzalez (left) and Billy Heidel, gave a STEMinar on the Mathematical Analysis of Languages from the research that they performed this semester with Dr. Ben Wilson.  Using concepts from information theory such as entropy, they analyzed the complexity of several languages. First defined and studied by Claude Shannon in 1948, the entropy of a written language measures how much information is produced on average for each letter of text in the language.  Gerald and Billy did an excellent job, delighting a large audience of over 20 people. 

SoLVE is a resource available to all students taking physics.  The goals of this academic support program are to improve students' problem solving strategies, to increase exposure to course material, to increase students' confidence in problem solving, and to practice study skills. Students enrolled in Physics I or II can attend any of the four one-hour sessions offered each week. In each session, students work in small groups on problem sets created by the physics professors and the SoLVE coordinator. So far this spring semester, over half of the students enrolled in physics have taken advantage of this valuable resource.

Each of our new applied math majors participates in First Year Seminar.  This course assists first-year students in identifying and using specific strategies for academic, personal, and social success in college.  Our new applied math majors meet weekly with Math faculty member, Dr. Ben Wilson.  This small class size allows our majors to get to know one another and Dr. Wilson and to share their excitement for their first semester at SU. 

Dr. Rachel Grotheer, Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science at Goucher College, spoke to our students and faculty about  the mathematics behind medical imaging devices.  Her talk was called, "Can You Reconstruct a Tiger from its Stripes?"   She explained that the medical imaging machines output data that gives us information about one of the properties of the tissue, such as how it scatters light (the “stripes"), which is only part of the whole picture (the “tiger").  Everyone really enjoyed this special seminar!

In MATH 218: Geometry, students get the chance to learn about Euclidean Geometry the way that generations of mathematicians have - by constructing the rules themselves.  Like all areas of mathematics, geometry consists of taking simple ideas (There is a line through any two points, two triangles are congruent if all of their sides are congruent) and combining them to get more and more complicated ideas (The angles in a triangle sum up to 180 degrees).  Combining these simple ideas can be difficult, and teaching students how to do this - writing a proof - is one of the biggest challenges in teaching mathematics.

Geometry is taught as an inquiry-based course. Unlike a traditional lecture format, in an inquiry-based course, students do the teaching to each other.  Dr. Mark Branson guides them through a series of problems, offering suggestions and correcting mistakes, so that students can go from solving simple problems to more complicated ones - just like mathematics!  When we approach mathematics as a puzzle to be solved, rather than a formula to learn, it's more enjoyable and productive.  The class also offers a real-life laboratory for our middle-school education students who are concentrating in Mathematics & Science to learn about this innovative teaching style.  In these pictures, you can see students presenting their solutions to various geometry problems.