Amherst College - math
https://www.amherst.edu/taxonomy/term/1956
enInnovative Program Helps Students Tackle Science, Math
https://www.amherst.edu/news/campusbuzz/node/564963
<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="gray">By Peter Rooney</p>
<p><span class="drop-cap2">O</span>n a summer afternoon in an Amherst College chemistry lab, new friends and incoming first-year students Natalia Dyer of Queens, N.Y., and Alejandra Possu of Houston take a break from writing a lab report.</p>
<p>They’re part of a group of admitted Amherst students selected to participate in an innovative science and math program that introduces them to some of the toughest calculus and chemistry problems they’ll face during their first year at Amherst.</p>
<p>The program seeks to level the academic playing field for promising students with an interest in science and math whose backgrounds may not have prepared for them for the rigorous courses they soon will be facing.</p>
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<img alt="collage of 3 photos from summer chemistry lab" class="media-image" height="230" title="summer-science_collage2x665.jpg" width="665" src="https://www.amherst.edu/system/files/media/summer-science_collage2x665.jpg" /> </span>
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<p style="text-align:center;"><span class="fine-print">Discussing, then solving chemistry problems</span></p>
<p>“They emailed me about summer science because I’m interested in pre-med,” Dyer said. “I’ve never taken calculus before and they told us we’re going to do chemistry, calculus and bio. So I was definitely thinking I should be more prepared for college level calculus.”</p>
<p>After two weeks in the three-week program, Dyer and Possu were feeling more confident by the day.</p>
<p>“The professors are so willing to help work with you, and the doors really seem open here,” Possu said. “I’m really glad I came.”</p>
<p>Now in its 27<sup>th</sup> year, The Summer Science program has been tweaked and refined to the point where more than half of its participants go on to major in science and math.</p>
<p>Increasing the number of women, minorities and low-income students who graduate with degrees in so-called STEM fields – majors that incorporate elements of science, technology, engineering and mathematics – has long been a priority at Amherst.</p>
<p>It’s also become a priority at the White House, which recently invited Amherst to join other colleges and universities in improving higher education access and success for low-income students. As <a href="/news/news_releases/2014/01-2014/node/531271">one of its four announced initiatives</a>, Amherst pledged to increase the proportion of low-income Amherst students who major in science and math fields.</p>
<p>The Summer Science program is helping the college achieve that goal. The percentage of low-income students at Amherst who graduated with a STEM major increased from 9 percent in 2008 to 32 percent in 2013. (Low-income students graduate from Amherst at about the same rate as other students—95 percent.)</p>
<p class="Body">“In the first five years of the program about 10 percent of those who participated majored in math or science,” said Jennifer Innes, director of the Moss Quantitative Center at Amherst College and director of the Summer Science program. “That increased to about 20 percent in the next five years and to 30 percent in the decade after that. In the last three years we’re seeing 50 to 60 percent of the participants go on to major in math and science.”</p>
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<img alt="Collage of 3 photos from summer math class" class="media-image" height="230" title="" width="665" src="https://www.amherst.edu/system/files/media/summer-science_collagex665.jpg" /> </span>
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<p class="Body fine-print" style="text-align:center;">Math professor Robert Benedetto talks calculus</p>
<p class="Body">One of them is Omar Pineda, a math major from the Bronx who will be a junior this fall. A Summer Science veteran, this is his second year working as a tutor for the program.</p>
<p class="Body">“If I hadn’t done the program I would have come in the fall, taken math and science classes and been totally overwhelmed,” Pineda said. “Instead of majoring in math, I probably would have been discouraged from taking more of those classes.”</p>
<p>As tutors, Pineda and Doyin Ariyibi ’17 not only share chemistry and calculus pointers but also help students form friendships and become familiar with the routine of college life.</p>
<p>“One thing I really like about the program is that it’s not just academic, it’s social too,” said Ariyibi, who’s from Nigeria. “You’re bonding with people from similar backgrounds and when school starts you have a support group already, people you can study or go over notes with.”</p>
<p>The Summer Science program is not about lowering academic standards for students who may have attended high schools with few labs or AP courses to offer. Instead, Summer Science presents students with the most challenging material they’ll face in their freshman courses, and then provides the professors, instructors and tutors to help students work through the material.</p>
<p>“A lot of my work is to help students overcome negative associations they may have with chemistry from high school,” said Richmond Ampiah-Bonney, an academic manager who teaches chemistry labs, leads discussion groups and charts the progress of all Amherst students taking introductory chemistry. “I’m trying to boost their confidence. I’m also encouraging them to access the resources here to help them succeed.”</p>
<p>Math professor and former dean of the faculty Gregory Call has been teaching at the program since 1994. He’s only missed one summer. Call said he keeps coming back because of the enthusiasm of the students.</p>
<p class="Body">“They’re immensely fun to work with,” he said. “They’re excited, dedicated, anxious and really eager to do well.”</p>
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<p> </p></div></div></div><div class="field field-name-taxonomy-vocabulary-1 field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Tags: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/5727">summer</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/4352">summer science program</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/11760">stem</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1956">math</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2464">science</a></div></div></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="sharethis first last"><a href="/sharethis-ajax/564963" class="mm-sharethis">Share</a></li>
</ul>Wed, 06 Aug 2014 16:02:36 +0000prooney564963 at https://www.amherst.eduhttps://www.amherst.edu/news/campusbuzz/node/564963#commentsDavid A. Cox Wins Ford Award from Mathematical Association of America
https://www.amherst.edu/academiclife/faculty_achievements/node/429599
<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p><span class="drop-cap2">T</span>he Mathematical Association of America (MAA) has named <a href="https://www.amherst.edu/people/facstaff/dacox">David A. Cox</a>, the William J. Walker of Mathematics at Amherst, one of this year’s winners of its Lester R. Ford Award honoring the author of an outstanding paper published in the previous year. Cox was recognized for his article “Why Eisenstein Proved the Eisenstein Criterion and Why Schönemann Discovered It First,” which appeared in the January 2011 issue of the MAA’s <em>The American Mathematical Monthly</em>, and accepted the award during the <a href="http://www.maa.org/mathfest/othermath.html">MAA Prize Session</a> on Aug. 3 at the <a href="http://www.maa.org/mathfest/">2012 MAA MathFest </a>in Madison, Wisc.</p>
<div class="mediainline"><span class="inline"><img src="/media/view/429601/original/Cox-MAA.jpg" alt="Cox-MAA" title="Cox-MAA" style="display:block;margin-left:auto;margin-right:auto;" class="image original" height="382" width="400"></span></div>
<p><br><br> According to Cox, “Why Eisenstein” discusses the historical context of what is called “the Eisenstein Criterion” in the theory of polynomials. Cox explains in the piece that Gotthold Eisenstein, for whom the criterion was named, was not actually the first to discover it; that honor goes to Theodor Schönemann. “The amazing thing is that Eisenstein and Schönemann were led to their discoveries by completely independent paths,” he said. “They really should both get credit.” He also explored some of the related developments in algebra and number theory that were occurring in the 19<sup>th</sup> century.</p>
<p>In <a href="http://maa.org/news/MathFest2012awards/Ford.html">the citation</a> for Cox’s award, the MAA described the Amherst professor’s paper as “an engrossing tale” and “an amazingly rich story, beautifully told, not of a priority dispute but of a grand sweeping flow of ideas beginning with [Carl Friedrich] Gauss (who partially scooped both Schönemann and Eisenstein) and extending into the beating heart of modern-day mathematics. It is a tour de force of mathematical and historical scholarship.”<br><br> For Cox, such praise and the honor itself are huge compliments. “I put a high value on quality expository writing in mathematics, so it is very satisfying when my peers recognize my contribution.” What is also gratifying, said Cox, is that the same mathematics that led to his paper also resulted in a senior thesis. “[My paper] mentions Niels Henrik Abel’s wonderful theorem about geometric constructions on a curve called the lemniscate,” he noted. “Eisenstein proved his criterion in the course of trying to understand Abel’s proof. I liked Eisenstein’s argument so much that I included a proof of Abel’s theorem in a book on Galois theory that I wrote in 2004. But my treatment had one loose end –there was one Galois group I couldn't compute. Last September, I gave this problem to Trevor Hyde ’12 for his senior thesis in mathematics. Trevor solved the problem in spectacular fashion—his thesis was awarded summa cum laude, and he received an Amherst College Post-Baccalaureate Research Fellowship.” What’s more, said Cox, he and Hyde will write up his thesis for publication in a mathematical journal. <br><br> Cox, a member of the Amherst faculty since 1979, received his bachelor of arts degree from Rice University and Ph.D. from Princeton University. His research interests include algebraic geometry, commutative algebra, geometric modeling, number theory and the history of mathematics.</p>
<p>According to the MAA’s website, the Lester R. Ford Awards were established in 1964 to recognize authors of articles of “expository excellence published in <em>The American Mathematical Monthly</em> or <em>Mathematics Magazine</em>.” Named for mathematician Lester R. Ford, Sr., editor of the <em>American Mathematical Monthly </em>from 1942 to 1946 and president of the Mathematical Association of America from 1947 to 1948, the prize and $500 are given to up to five mathematicians annually at the summer meeting of the MAA. <br><br> Cox is not the first member of Amherst’s math department to win a Ford Prize. Dan Velleman<em>, </em><em>Julian H. Gibbs ’46 Professor of Mathematics, </em>and Tanya Leise, assistant professor of mathematics, received the award in 1994 and 2008, respectively.</p>
<p> </p></div></div></div><div class="field field-name-taxonomy-vocabulary-1 field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Tags: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1701">mathematics</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1956">math</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/4821">David Cox</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17901">Cox</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17902">Ford Award</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/17903">MAA</a></div></div></div>Tue, 28 Aug 2012 16:35:35 +0000kdduke429599 at https://www.amherst.eduTally Me Banana
https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2011winter/collegerow/bananas/node/293609
<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p><span class="drop-cap2">H</span>ere’s a weighty question: How many pounds of bananas does Valentine Dining Hall go through in a single year? <br> After the college posted that very question on its Facebook page, more than 40 people contributed guesses. Responses ranged from 1,500 pounds (not even close) to 47,000 pounds (very warm) to 100,000 pounds (way too many).</p><p>One poster said he multiplied the weight of a banana (source: the International Banana Association) by the number of students, faculty and staff, and then, assuming three bananas per person per week that Valentine is open, settled on exactly 61,486.7486 pounds of bananas per year.</p><p>Sadly (not only for him and but also for the International Banana Association), he overestimated the popularity of bananas on campus.</p><p>Not to fear, though: another poster, Rhea Ghosh ’10, guessed the exact amount—49,000 pounds. Here was her reasoning: “Just in case you’re curious, I Googled the average weight of a banana—7 ounces, or 7/16 pounds—settled on 40 weeks (or 280 days) as the amount of time Valentine would be in use during the year including school and camps, and decided that approximately one quarter of the student body (hoping that the faculty and staff banana-eaters would even out some other off-base assumption), or 400 students, ate bananas every day. 7/16 x 400 x 280 = 49,000. Thankfully for me it seems that banana eaters consume in round numbers.”</p></div></div></div><div class="field field-name-taxonomy-vocabulary-1 field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Tags: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1701">mathematics</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1775">bananas</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1956">math</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2442">valentine dining hall</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/14789">weight</a></div></div></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="sharethis first last"><a href="/sharethis-ajax/293609" class="mm-sharethis">Share</a></li>
</ul>Mon, 14 Feb 2011 05:00:00 +0000kdduke293609 at https://www.amherst.eduhttps://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2011winter/collegerow/bananas/node/293609#commentsNorton Starr Retires
https://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2009summer/collegerow/starr/node/120274
<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p></p><table class="table-align-right-gradient" border="0" cellpadding="10" width="200"><tbody><tr><td><div class="mediainline"><img class="image original" src="/media/view/120903/original/139340070.jpg" border="0" width="238" height="300" alt="image"></div><div class="fine-print" align="left">Norton Starr retired after 43 years at Amherst.</div></td></tr></tbody></table><span class="fine-print">By Emily Gold Boutilier</span><br><br><span class="drop-cap2">N</span>orton Starr, the Brian E. Boyle ’69 Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science, has retired after 43 years at Amherst.<br><br> Starr came to Amherst from MIT, where he earned a Ph.D. in mathematics, served as an instructor and received the Goodwin Medal for “conspicuously effective teaching.” In his early years at Amherst, he remembers, there were pitchers of milk and unleashed dogs in Valentine, nearly every professor lived within blocks of campus, and he once felt out of place for wearing a sweater rather than a coat and tie to a faculty meeting.<br><br> Named a full professor at Amherst in 1978, Starr has taught courses in advanced calculus, complex variables, probability, statistics and data analysis, among other subjects. He also taught a first-year seminar in computers and society. His most frequently cited publication is an article about the 1970 Vietnam draft lottery, published in the <i>Journal of Statistics Education</i> in 1997. In recent years, he has published on mathematical puzzles. <br><br> During a 1972-73 sabbatical at Canada’s University of Waterloo, he chanced into the young field of computer graphics and created a wide variety of computer drawings based on mathematical themes. A number of them have appeared in books and magazines. In 1989, he displayed his work <i>Experiment in Shading</i>, drawn by a ball-point pen under computer control, and <i>Tecumseh</i>, a lithograph of a graph-theoretic drawing made by computer-controlled fountain pen, as part of an invited exhibit at The Print Club in Philadelphia. <i>Tecumseh </i>had previously been displayed in the juried National Prints and Drawings Exhibition at Mount Holyoke in 1976. Most recently, <i>Tecumseh </i>appeared in a 2007 exhibit at Kunsthalle Bremen, where it is in the permanent collection. <br><br> When the math department moved to the Seeley Mudd Building in 1984, Starr could have picked an office with a view of the Holyoke Range. Instead, he chose a room facing the Quad, where students who walked by in the evening could see his light on and know he was available for questions. <br><br> This summer, Starr spent weeks clearing out that office, including 50 years of files and nine bookcases full of books. (The files include articles about nonacademic careers for philosophers and a list of at least 22 alumni who believe they were taught by him when, in fact, they were in none of his courses.)<p>In retirement, Starr will continue to write for a column in the <i>College Mathematical Journal</i>. “I look forward to simply being able to read a book, walk into town, see a movie,” he says. First, though, he must organize the papers and files that now overwhelm his house. Once he accomplishes that task, he says, he’ll feel retired.</p><p><span class="fine-print">Photo by Frank Ward</span></p></div></div></div><div class="field field-name-taxonomy-vocabulary-1 field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Tags: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/931">retirement</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1701">mathematics</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1956">math</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/4822">Norton Starr</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/10751">Starr</a></div></div></div><ul class="links inline"><li class="sharethis first last"><a href="/sharethis-ajax/120274" class="mm-sharethis">Share</a></li>
</ul>Mon, 10 Aug 2009 04:00:00 +0000kdduke120274 at https://www.amherst.eduhttps://www.amherst.edu/amherst-story/magazine/issues/2009summer/collegerow/starr/node/120274#commentsAmherst College Math Professor Daniel Velleman To Edit American Mathematical Monthly
https://www.amherst.edu/news/news_releases/2006/05_2006/node/8767
<div class="field field-name-body field-type-text-with-summary field-label-hidden"><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><p class="fine-print">May 12, 2006 <br> Director of Media Relations<br> 413/542-8417</p> <p class="text">AMHERST, Mass.—Daniel J. Velleman, professor of mathematics at Amherst College, has been selected to become the next editor of the <em>American Mathematical Monthly</em>. His term will begin with the January 2007 issue. The <em>American Mathematical Monthly</em> publishes articles, as well as notes and other features, about mathematics and the profession for readers with a broad range of mathematical interests, from professional mathematicians to undergraduate students of mathematics. The <em>American Mathematical Monthly</em> is written to be read, enjoyed and discussed.<br><br> Velleman came to Amherst in 1983, having earned a B.A. at Dartmouth College, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is author of <em>How to Prove It: A Structured Approach</em> (1994), and co-author of <em>Which Way Did the Bicycle Go? And Other Intriguing Mathematical Mysteries</em> (with Joseph Konhauser and Stan Wagon, 1996) and <em>Philosophies of Mathematics</em> (with Alexander George, 2002).</p><p class="text" align="center">###</p></div></div></div><div class="field field-name-taxonomy-vocabulary-1 field-type-taxonomy-term-reference field-label-above"><div class="field-label">Tags: </div><div class="field-items"><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/55">editor</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/552">news releases</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/782">faculty</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1701">mathematics</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/1956">math</a></div><div class="field-item odd"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2857">Daniel Velleman</a></div><div class="field-item even"><a href="/taxonomy/term/2858">American Mathematical Monthly</a></div></div></div>Fri, 15 Jun 2007 13:50:31 +0000daustin098767 at https://www.amherst.edu