At Moravian, there are many weapons of math instruction

Photo courtesy Borko Milosev '04

Full house: Participants in the 18th annual Student Mathematics Conference pack Prosser Auditorium (below). Alicia Sevilla, department chair, faces the camera; on her left, Amy Lawrence and Dana Patchkowski ’04 (striped sweater), secretary and president, respectively, of Moravian’s Pi Mu Epsilon chapter. Turning around to talk to them is Ann Stehney,vice president for planning and research, who came to Moravian originally to teach math.

Mild-mannered Michael Fraboni has been chosen outstanding leader for February by Omicron Delta Kappa, Moravian’s leadership honor society, for organizing the 18th annual Student Mathematics Conference, held February 21 at the College.

The conference is sponsored by Moravian’s chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honor society, and LVAIC. This year’s event drew more than 200 students and faculty from 30 area colleges and universities.

The keynote speaker was Robert Devaney of Boston University, who spoke on “Chaos Games and Fractal Imagery.” The accompanying graphic, called a Sierpinski triangle, is from his talk. It’s a self-similar fractal; that is, each piece is a replica of the whole, and each piece of each piece is a replica of the whole, ad infinitum.

The rest of the day was given over to 24 presentations on mathematics and computer science by students of 16 institutions. Moravian students introduced the speakers and helped with the 1,001 chores that keep a conference running smoothly.

And, as Mike said, a chaotic time was enjoyed by all.

Every so often, we Internetters notice that our favorite search engine has decorated its logo to observe a special day. February 3 was such a day.

There was the logo (above), all ornamented, with a mathematical formula just visible in the background. Was it for a holiday? If so, what?

So we asked the Math Department what was going on. Gordon Williams, assistant professor, answered: “It is Gaston Julia’s birthday, for whom a famous fractal is named.” He added: “This is very cool.”

Julia (1893-1978) was famous by the age of 25 for one of his formulae. He was horribly disfigured in World War I and wore a mask for the rest of his life to guard his exposed breathing passages from infection.

However, the first illuminated character, the one on the G that looks like a Siamese temple dancer’s headdress, is not a Julia but a Mandelbrot, says assistant professor Michael Fraboni; and the last, the one like a scorpion, is a piece of a Mandelbrot. The middle one may or may not be a Julia; at this depth it looks like one.

Benoît Mandelbrot (b. 1924) teaches at Yale. Mike, who has worked with him, plans to use a Mandelbrot-based curriculum for a teachers’ workshop he will conduct this summer. Mandelbrot will be served. (That’s a joke.)

Logo used with permission of Google.

April 27, 2004

Invested for $uccess:
Amrhein Investment Club is a first-place winner at the RISE conference for college and university investment groups.

Bases Loaded and Play Ball!:
Moravian softball sets records, Ed Little (baseball coach) passes 300th career win mark, Jason Toedter wins MAC men's singles championship.

Number-Crunching and Google:
Report on Moravian math conference, for which math prof Michael Fraboni received an ODK Leadership Award. Math faculty solves a Google puzzle.

Welcome Aboard!:
Two new faculty members.

Campus calendar.
Faculty/staff/student achievements.