Fall 2009

MTHS 659
Mathematical Modeling: Exploring and Predicting Phenomena with Mathematics

Taylor,Edward

09/14/2009 - 12/18/2009
Thursday 06:00 PM - 08:30 PM

Science Tower 109

Mathematics can be viewed as a language for describing the world around us. Indeed, this is largely how mathematics developed. For instance, Calculus was invented by Newton in order to describe how a cannon ball falls to the ground or to describe how the moon orbits the Earth.

This course will be very much in this tradition. We will consider problems or objects that we might observe or encounter every day, for instance: "Why (in terms of the reproductive function of a pine cone) is a pine cone shaped as it is?" Or "Can California water shortages be alleviated by towing icebergs from Antarctica?" Such systems as the human body, the stock market, and sports games are amenable to description, called models, via the mathematics that we encounter early in our college years (and of course, more advanced mathematics can provide more detailed models!).

The goal of this course will be to increase the mathematical literacy of the students taking it. We will provide a set of tools and frameworks with which students can use familiar mathematics to predict and analyze real world problems. The mathematics required will be a "just in time production:" that is, it will be taught when it is needed.

The principal text for this course is Towing Icebergs, Falling Dominoes, and Other Adventures in Applied Mathematics by R.B. Banks. On occasion we will use Slicing Pizzas, Racing Turtles, and Further Adventures in Applied Mathematics also by R.B. Banks, as well as Topics in Mathematical Modeling by K.K. Tung.

Each class will feature a focus problem or focus problems for which we will develop a mathematical model that attempts to describe and predict the system in question. These in-class projects will typically be tackled in teams, and thus attendance for each class is required. In addition to these in-class projects, there will be at least two large modeling problems given to teams for which 5 to 6 page research reports will be required. Some homework- as preparation for the coming discussion- will be required weekly.

Course tuition: $2022.

A syllabus for this course is available at:
Course Syllabus


Edward Taylor (Sc.B., Brown University; M.A., University of Texas; Ph.D., Stony Brook) is associate professor of mathematics. Click here for more information about Edward Taylor.


ENROLLMENT INFORMATION

Consent of Instructor Required: No

Format: Seminar

Level: GLSP Credits: 3 Enrollment Limit: 18

Texts to purchase for this course:
Robert Banks, TOWING ICEBERGS, FALLING DOMINOEWS, & OTHER ADVENTURES IN APPLIED MATHEMATICS (Princeton University Press), Paperback

READING MATERIALS ARE AVAILABLE AT BROAD STREET BOOKS, 45 BROAD STREET, MIDDLETOWN, 860-685-7323 Order your books online

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