Vol. 5, Number 2

November 2003 
Because speed is such a valued commodity on the Web, browsers are intolerant of slowrunning scripts. Testing relatively high values of p^{r} results in a warning message encouraging the user to abort the script. Of course, there's another limitation of testing solutions in this way. Even a billion positive results can't prove that a theorem works. On the other hand, a little wellwritten code can make it quicker and easier to find a counter example that proves it doesn't. See the script on Prof. Morrow's web page. Jim Owens (Math Major)

Dr. Mohamed Djerdjour (a Mathematician hiding in the department of management and marketing) spoke to the math club about the field of operations research. The name comes from World War II, when generals realized that mathematicians had techniques that would enable them to give optimal solutions to practical problems of combat.


So what is math, anyway? Members of the Math club decided to ask mathematics faculty (including a mathematician who hides in C.S.) how they would define mathematics. Here, in no particular order, are the responses they obtained from Professors Bodenrader, D'Aristotile, Hofer, Keever, Keiser, Liu, Morrow, Northshield, Petro, Plaza, Powell, and Solsten. "The interplay between generality and individuality, deduction and construction, logic and imagination." (Quoting Courant) It involves discovering patterns and connections, and seeking explanation for why those patterns and connections exist. It is the discovery of universal laws that govern numbers, shapes and sets. Beyond discovery, it is the formulation of these laws into axioms, theorems and methodologies. On a more poetic level, mathematics is to the universe as current is to a stream. It is a class of sciences that using specialized notations treats exact relations abstracted or reduced from existing or supposed quantities, shapes, spaces and their interrelationships. It is a body of knowledge containing generic tools for modeling those aspects of the world which are considered in all sciences. It is the creation and study of axiomatic systems and morphisms of such systems with particular emphasis on properties preserved under system morphism. It is the study of infinity. It is a human endeavor combining the best characteristics of science and of art; the precision of thought and devotion to detail and to 'the real' as in science, the creativity and freedom of expression as in art. Mathematics is pure and applied and investigates areas such as numbers and structure (Algebra), figures and shape (Topology), surfaces (Geometry), and randomness (Probability). Its enormous development will continue to be driven forward by the passion of its devotees who have so much in common with poets, artists, and musicians. Indeed, Mathematics is the finest of the arts. “Mathematics” is derived from the Greek, “mathein”, a verb meaning “to learn, understand or process information”. Learning is the root of mathematics. Mathematics is the logical abstraction and application of quantitative relations. We first identify the relevant quantities and variables, determine their relationships and ignore the unimportant words. By abstracting properties of arithmetic, we obtain, and can then apply the algebra necessary to give a unique solution to the problem. Further abstraction leads to the field of linear algebra. In mathematics we try to understand and seek relationships in situations in the world around us.

Salim Dhirani (CS '03, Mathematics minor) is working for Crescent Tech. Systems in Orlando, FL. He writes: “I miss my college days already but not the winter that came with it. Here in Orlando the weather is very good, like back home, hence no complaints.” Jim Pombrio ('91), a Senior Clinical Data Coordinator at Target Research Associates writes: “Lately I've sort of transitioned myself into more of a programmer's role in my job. I'm technically a data manager, meaning that I do a lot of project management as well as programming. An aspect of my programming work is what we refer to as "edit checks" where we check logical consistency of data (e.g., males do not get a pregnancy test) and validity of data (e.g., stop dates of medications must be after start dates). The most interesting part of my programming work is when we work with outside vendors that provide us with electronic laboratory data. I am able to use my science background a lot! I use it to categorize lab tests (e.g., blood chemistry versus microbiology). An awful lot of my math background gets used, although no calculus; more of the sets/functions/relations variety, because I have to pay close attention to logic, as well as concepts of mapping. The programming language that we use is called SAS (statistical analysis software) which is THE standard in the pharmaceutical business, although it is widely used in insurance/finance as well. News: I got married and we will be moving into our new house in two weeks.”
Problem Please submit your solution, preferably written on the back of one of those new twenty dollar bills, to Prof. Northshield. The first and/or best solution will permit you to choose a prize from the 'big box'o'prizes' in Northshield's office.
Closing Credits: Editor: Sam Northshield Assistant Editor: Margaret Morrow Web Editor: Don West
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