## Mathematics departments at liberal arts colleges

I’m often curious about how other mathematics departments do things—how they structure their curriculum, run the Putnam Exam, handle research projects, etc. This invariably leads to a lot of web searching. So I decided to put together a collection of links to mathematics departments at schools like mine (a small liberal arts college). Because I…

## Parametric curve project for multivariable calculus

I’m teaching two sections of Multivariable Calculus this semester. Each class has 3 hours of lecture and a 1 hour 20 minute lab each week. Last week the students were learning about parametric equations. So in lab I wanted to give them some hands-on experience with 2-dimensional parametric curves. Their assignment was to create a…

## Advice for new college students

I’m teaching a first year seminar this semester. This isn’t a math course. (The title of my course is “Science or Nonsense?” We will look at a wide range of topics including the paranormal, evolution, climate change, the vaccine/autism controversy, alternative medicines, etc.) We are required to focus on academic writing, library research, oral communication,…

## A quick guide to LaTeX

This semester I’ll be teaching real analysis. I am going to have the students type their homework in LaTeX. To make this as easy for them as possible, I will give them a template that is all ready for them to enter their solutions. They shouldn’t have to worry about headers, packages, font sizes, margins,…

## Volumes of n-dimensional balls

We all know that the area of a circle is and the volume of a sphere is , but what about the volumes (or hypervolumes) of balls of higher dimension? For a fun exercise I had my multivariable calculus class compute the volumes of various balls using multiple integrals. The surprising results inspired this post….

## Movie day in topology class: the Poincaré conjecture

Today was the last day of the topology class I’ve been teaching. I decided to devote the day to the Poincaré conjecture. I started by telling the students a little about the history of the problem. Then I showed them three videos. The first video was an excellent 50-minute lecture by Fields medalist Curt McMullen…

## Interview on Strongly Connected Components

I had the pleasure of chatting with Samuel Hansen on the telephone a little while ago. Our conversation is now online as Episode 16 of his Strongly Connected Components podcast series. Check it out! While you’re at it, check out his other interviews as well as his other podcast series, Combinations and Permutation (he discussed my book…

## Making a hyperboloid out of skewers and rubber bands

George Hart, of the Museum of Mathematics, writes a weekly column at Make Magazine called “Math Monday.” A few weeks ago he showed how to make a hyperboloid of one sheet out of 32 shish kabob skewers and 176 hair rubber bands. (Here is a direct link to the instructions.) We just finished talking about…

## Readers’ response: Euler’s greatest hits

My friend Gene Chase is teaching a history of mathematics class at Messiah College this semester. He asked me if I was interested in giving a visiting lecture in his class in a few weeks. The topic: Leonhard Euler. He said that I could talk about whatever I wanted. Wow, the possibilities! So I was…

## Using wikis in mathematics classes

Wikipedia describes a wiki as a website that allows the easy creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages… [Wikis] are often used to create collaborative websites, to power community websites, for personal note taking, in corporate intranets, and in knowledge management systems. I have used wikis in three of my classes: two…