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UMBC First Year Seminar

Computation as an experimental tool

You’ve seen the pictures. Now find out what they mean.
(Also how to generate them, and what they’re used for.)

In the last two decades, computational mathematics has played an increasingly important role in scientific research, with advances and discoveries being routinely made through numerical simulation. The goal of this course is to show how mathematical computation can be used a tool towards answering questions and embarking on new explorations. We’ll calculate areas by electronically throwing darts at a dartboard. We’ll investigate questions in population growth by raising colonies of bacteria on the computer then killing them off. We’ll explore chaos and fractals. We’ll take a field trip to the Walters’ Art Gallery for a private viewing of the centuries old Archimedes Palimpsest (documenting one of the first efforts to experimentally estimate pi). We’ll even discuss the opposing viewpoint through an essay by C. Truesdell, “The Computer: Ruin of Science and Threat to Mankind.”

More details can be found in the course description here.

The course is recommended only for those who enjoy mathematics and are comfortable with it. A suitable score on the LRC algebra placement exam for a GEP mathematics course is required. Permission is required from the instructor, Professor Manil Suri. Only first year students are eligible to take the course, and enrolment is limited to fifteen students. Please e-mail, or talk to your advisor.