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Dylan Ricciardi

SOAR Profile - Dylan Ricciardi

Name: Dylan Ricciardi 
Major/minor: Mathematics 
Expected date of graduation: Spring 2014 
Hometown: Hampton, N.J. 
Activities: Moravian Guitar Ensemble, a karate club near his hometown; Habitat for Humanity 
Project title: Network Analysis in Music 
Project advisor: Nathan Shank

Dylan Ricciardi likely hears music differently than most. He has his summer 2013 SOAR project to thank for that.

During his project, titled “Network Analysis in Music,” Dylan took musical pieces from different genres and processed them using network analysis. This method involved extracting the sequences of notes from different pieces of music – mostly classical or jazz – and using these sequences to develop a network that showed which notes went to which other notes, and how many times this occurred. This allowed Dylan to use different statistical approaches to find out specific things about the pieces of music through these networks.

“The SOAR project seemed particularly interesting to me because it gave me a chance to use the math I have learned in class and apply it to a concrete problem outside of school,” he says. “Also it linked my musical background to my mathematical background, which was exciting.”

Dylan, a member of the Moravian Guitar Ensemble, added that he “always wondered specifically what mathematical data was tied into music and pieces of music.”

The result of his research led Dylan to make a number of discoveries. “It was very interesting to see how we could use Microsoft Excel to give us probability distributions for the music and from those probabilities generate chord structures and musical ideas simply from excel itself, requiring no true knowledge of the musical theory behind it,” he points out.

Dylan called the project “enlightening,” and that it helped “further my knowledge of mathematical approaches to problems and the links to mathematics in the everyday world.” Moving forward, after graduation, Dylan seems himself beginning a career as an actuary – a business professional who deals with the financial impact of risk and uncertainty – for Chubb Insurance in New Jersey. Additionally, he hopes to start a family, and then delve further into his interests, which are many. He wants to one day pursue a pilot’s license, open a karate school, and start a classic car restoration shop with his father.