April 25, 2016 – Mathematics Faculty Sweeps Faculty Senate Awards (again)

The Faculty Senate Awards ceremony was held on the afternoon of April 25th, and the awards for teaching, service, and research were given to Dr. Layne Heitz, Dr. Chris Moretti, and Dr. Karl Frinkle, respectively. Though no small feat, this was made all the more impressive by the fact that this is the second year in a row that the Mathematics Department has done this.

To win one of these awards, faculty members must first be nominated by students and fellow faculty. This was the first year in which, after nominations were compiled, the faculty as a whole were given the chance to vote to send nominees to the second round, where the Faculty Senate made the final decision.

April 11, 2016 – Math Graduate Receives Math Award

Southeastern Mathematics major Birch Bryant is graduating in May 2016 and he will begin working on a Ph.D. in Mathematics in the fall at Florida State University. He has accepted a teaching assistantship, tuition waiver, and the DeWitt Sumners Fellowship Award at Florida State, which is given to only one incoming graduate student.

For fun, Birch recently completed construction of a multirotor helicopter. Components were ordered from various online sources. The interesting stage was optimizing the motor thrust to amperage pull, since the relation of thrust to amps is exponential. Varying amperage pull of the motors changes the battery requirement, and increasing pull increases the C-rating of the battery. The C-rating corresponds most significantly to the weight of the battery which then increases the thrust needed. After the assembly process the on-board computer must be taught how the motors are oriented with respect to the three gyroscopic sensors and the PID controller must be tuned. In short the PID is an error correction function represented as a finite sum with three summands accounting for present, past and future error.

April 9, 2016 – Karl Frinkle and Mike Morris present at ONASHE with SWOSU Faculty and Students

From April 8 to 10, 2016, Southeastern hosted the Oklahoma Native American Students in Higher Education (ONASHE) conference. Native-American students from around the state converged to the SE campus and attended various workshops and talks about opportunities available to them at the university level.

On Saturday the legendary (at least in the High Performance Computing community) team of Karl Frinkle and Mike Morris assisted SWOSU CS professor Jeremy Evert and his protégé Charles Sleeper in the presentation of the conference’s “Opportunities for Native American Students in High Performance Computing (HPC)” workshop.

The workshop consisted of information about the HPC infrastructure in Oklahoma as well as a Q&A session that enjoyed active involvement with the attending students.

A side benefit of this event was the formation of future HPC activities involving SE and SWOSU that will potentially involve other regional universities.

December 5, 2015 – Math Students Participate in Annual Putnam Competition

Each year, on the first Saturday of December, undergraduate students all over the country spend the day attempting to solve 12 mathematically challenging problems, six in a three hour session in the morning, with a two hour break, and then six more in a three hour session in the afternoon. The median score of this competition is 0. Each problem is worth 10 points, for a grand total of 120 points. This year, six Southeastern math majors took part in this exam, hoping to to better that the median score. The participants, from left to right are: Alberto Blesa, Andrew Detweiler, Birch Bryant, Garrett Wright, Cheyenne Sisk, and Aaron McAdams. Last year, Birch Bryant , scored an 11. This year, each student submitted at least one potential solution to a problem for each of the two sessions. As a team, they are hopeful that their performance will top the best score to date.

December, 2015 – A glimpse of the text *Analytic Geometry with Mathematica*

Dr. Layne Heitz and Dr. Chris Moretti have teamed up to write an innovative textbook for Mathematics and Mathematics Education majors. The textbook *Analytic Geometry with Mathematica* covers the rich mathematical content on the border between algebra and geometry. Analytic Geometry is a requirement for Mathematics Education majors and has previously been taught in a traditional paper-and-pencil manner. The new textbook is written entirely in the computer algebra system *Mathematica*, and so it gives students access to a powerful technology component that lets them investigate concepts and perform complex mathematical calculations at levels that would be extremely difficult to achieve in a more traditional context. The incorporation of *Mathematica* into the course and text will better prepare Southeastern students to face the educational needs of future secondary math students. In addition the electronic format of the text will allow us to distribute it to our students for free, which will be a huge savings for them over the $246 cost of the current text.

November 18, 2015 – Recent Math Graduate Returns To Give Talk

Southeastern graduate Michael Tilles (’13) presented a lecture to the Southeastern Math Club on November 18 on his experiences in the Ph.D. program in Mathematics at the University of Oklahoma. Michael entered into a class of thirteen Mathematics Ph.D. students at OU, but he is one of only five who have successfully passed the comprehensive mathematics doctoral exams. Michael attributed his success to the education he received from the Mathematics program at Southeastern, where he said he worked closely with several faculty members on advanced independent study courses beyond the traditional undergraduate curriculum. Michael’s next step is the Ph.D. thesis, which usually takes a few years to complete.

June/July, 2015 – Dr. Elliott’s “Mathematics of Billiards” course a success!

This past summer Dr. Brett Elliott created and taught a new course called The Mathematics of Billiards. Billiards has been a lesser known branch of mathematics for many years. In 2014, the Abel Prize (sometimes known as the Nobel Prize of mathematics) was even awarded to a Russian mathematician whose research was on billiard table chaos.

The students in Dr. Elliott’s course learned some of the mathematics behind what takes place on a standard pool table. Some physics and statistics were also covered in the class. Topics such as the effect of English on the cue ball, how hard you should shoot the break shot, the effect of different weighted sticks, why it is necessary to chalk your cue and which brand of chalk is best, and many more topics were covered. The students also investigated nonrectangular shaped pool tables and the paths that the balls would take on such tables.

Each student had to do a project as well. One project was over the diamond system (using the diamonds or dots on the rail of the pool table to determine where to aim bank shots and kick shots). Another one dealt with shooting pool balls on a torus. A project such as this could have future applications to things such as particles moving and colliding in the Large Hadron Collider or gas molecules moving in a closed container. Another student investigated the order that the balls should be shot based on probabilities of making different shots.

One computer science major in the class even designed his own pool video game and hopes to release it as an app in the future. He also built his own pool table from scratch!

One day a week, the students and Dr. Elliott would put some of the theories to practice by having the class meet around an actual pool table. Dr. Elliott, an avid pool player, also taught the students the basic rules of the most popular pool games and gave them tips on how to better play. All of the students showed significant improvement in their pool playing skills from the beginning to the end of the 8 week class and they had fun doing it as well!

June 1-3, 2015 – Mike Morris and Karl Frinkle Present Collaborative Work in Iceland

Mike Morris, instructor in the CCPS Department, and Karl Frinkle, Professor in the Mathematics Department, presented original work at the International Conference on Computational Science (ICCS) in June of this year. The conference took place in Reykjavík, Iceland and is the premiere annual Computational Science conference. Their presentation focused on work they did In the Fall 2014 semester with a group of CS students.

To teach students about high performance computing (HPC), which is currently the single fastest growing sector of computer science, our students need reliable access to HPC hardware. Mike and Karl had been the recipient of small, travel-ready cluster, called LittleFE, in 2011 and used it for over three years in their HPC courses. Teaching the courses using only one HPC device became functionally difficult with the number of students enrolled in the HPC courses. If something breaks or happens to the single machine, it has to be fixed before work can continue, which can be a very stressful situation to be in. So together with students, Mike and Karl built several more powerful clusters. The presentation of this work, as well as the subsequent journal article, focused on the design and implementation of the HPC class, which focused on creating competency in building, configuring, programming, troubleshooting, and benchmarking HPC clusters. By coordinating with campus services, the class was able to avoid any additional costs to the students or the university. By the end of the semester, students had built three twelve-unit, independently-operating, clusters. Working groups were formed for each cluster and the students installed the operating system, created users, connected to the campus network and wrote a variety of scripts and parallel programs while documenting the process. Their novel approach to increasing our HPC capabilities at a small university, while engaging students in the process, was well received at the conference.

April 27, 2015 – Mathematics Department Sweeps Faculty Senate Awards, Dr. Elliott Earns Lifetime Achievement Award

On Monday April 27th the Faculty Senate Awards Banquet was held. Awards are given out by school, and for the School of Arts and Sciences, the Mathematics Department swept the categories. Each year, awards are given for Service, Scholarship, and Teaching. This year, Dr. Moretti was the Service award, Dr. Frinkle the Research award, and Dr. Elliott the Teaching award.

Furthermore, Dr. Elliott was also the recipient of the Lifetime Achievement Award. Brett is a Southeastern graduate, started teaching at Southeastern in 1987 as an instructor, and became an Assistant Professor in 1998 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas, and eventually went on to become full Professor in 2007. Dr. Elliott has served as chair for the Department of Mathematics, the Faculty Senate Chair, sponsor of Alpha Chi and much more in his tenure here at Southeaster. Congratulations Brett!

March 13, 2015 – SE Math Club Celebrates π Day

On Friday March 13th the Southeastern Math Club celebrated “π Day”. For those who don’t know what π Day is, it’s the unofficial holiday whose calendar date most closely matches the digits of the number π. As you probably learned in school long ago π is approximately (but not equal to) 3.14 – so it is celebrated on March 14th. As that fell on a Saturday this year the Math Club had to get an early start and round down to 3.13.

This year’s π Day was even more extraordinary – the “π Day of the Century,” owing to not just the calendar date but also the year. If you look at more digits in the expansion of π (whose decimals never stop or form continually repeating blocks) it will be about 3.1415, whose digits form the longer date 3/14/15. In fact if you looked at the clock at just the right moment on that Saturday morning you would see the date/time combination 3/14/15 9:26:53 – the first 10 digits of π. The match between date, time, and digits won’t be this good for another century.

To celebrate π Day the Math Club held a fundraiser as well as sponsored a pair of faculty talks related to π. If you passed by the Math Building you could purchase small pies with the proceeds going to the Math Club. Thanks go out to Dean Scoufos for her generous donation at the event! In the afternoon Dr. Christopher Moretti gave a presentation entitled “A Very Bad Way to Estimate π” which revolved around connecting π to the chance that two randomly chosen whole numbers have no common factor other than 1. Mike Morris and Dr. Karl Frinkle followed with “A Curious Anomaly of π”, which looked at the infinite sum 4 – 4/3 + 4/5 – 4/7 + – + -… = π and its relationship to the famous sequence of Euler numbers.

November 10, 2014 – Kasie Taylor gives talk “Euler’s Rotation Theorem: Rotating Objects in 3-Space”

On Monday, November 10, Kasie Taylor presented a talk entitled, “Euler’s Rotation Theorem: Rotating Objects in 3-Space” to the Southeastern Math Club. Kasie graduated with a Mathematics Education degree from Southeastern in 2010. She is currently teaching at McKinney North High School and she recently completed her Master of Science degree in Mathematics at Texas Women’s University. Her Master’s thesis was an extension of a research project that she worked on as part of a Senior Seminar project here at Southeastern. Kasie encouraged students in the Math Club that what they are currently learning in the classroom at Southeastern helped her tremendously in her pursuits of her graduate degree, and that she was very well prepared for her graduate classes compared to her peers.

September 22, 2014 – Dr. Moretti gives *Mathematica* talk to students and faculty

On September 22, Dr. Chris Moretti gave a presentation to the Southeastern Faculty and the Math Club on the computer application *Mathematica*. *Mathematica* is a computer algebra system and programming language that makes all sorts of complex mathematical computations easy to do. Obtaining and analyzing large sets of data is relatively painless, and algebraic manipulation and graphing is effortless with *Mathematica*. This fall Southeastern obtained an unlimited license for *Mathematica*, so students, faculty and staff can download a copy free of charge.

Dr. Moretti’s presentation was very well attended, and a few faculty members expressed interest in attending but could not. In response, Dr. Moretti created videos presenting the topics discussed in his presentation. You can see the videos by clicking on the link ‘See Dr. Moretti’s What is *Mathematica* talk’ from his web page here.

July, 2013 – Dr. Elliott lends a hand at the Pearl House in Ghana

In July, several individuals with Southeastern ties went on a mission trip to Ghana, Africa. They included Dr. Brett Elliott (Professor of Mathematics) and Southeastern Alumni Jeff Woodward (the organizer of the trip), Josh Lovelace (Class of 2012), Jon Hazell and his wife Jeannie Hazell (currently teachers in the Durant Independent School District), and current Southeastern student Madison Elliott (daughter of Brett). While there the group participated in several of the usual mission trip activities (evangelizing, handing out mosquito nets, etc.) but the main purpose of the trip was helping out at the Pearl House. The Pearl House is a safe house for Ghanaian girls that were taken out of bad situations (sex trafficking, extreme poverty, abuse, etc.). To find out more about the Pearl House you can go to www.thepearlhouse.org.

While there, the group also had the opportunity to learn about the educational system of Ghana. They spent part of their time helping to construct an elementary school. In Ghana, an elementary school can be built for $50,000 and the cost of attending school is only a few dollars a month per child. They were able to visit one completed elementary school in Ghana called the Paula Marshall School where they handed out treats and the schoolchildren recited multiplication facts for the group and sang Jingle Bells (in July in Africa!). In one remote village where the group was handing out mosquito nets, only 2 children out of about 100 attend school. These 2 boys have to row in a canoe for 2 hours to get to school and then have to row for 2 more hours to get back home. Because education is so rare in the villages of Ghana, it is highly valued. Several members of the group proudly wore our Southeastern t-shirts while in Ghana. Not only did they share Jesus, mosquito nets and soccer balls with the people of Ghana, they also shared their Southeastern spirit.