Wesleyan faculty frequently publish articles based on their scholarship in The Conversation US, a nonprofit news organization with the tagline, “Academic rigor, journalistic flair.” In a new article, Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen writes about his recent collaboration with other number theorists to create a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation.”
Using computers to crack open centuries-old mathematical puzzles
In mathematics, no researcher works in true isolation. Even those who work alone use the theorems and methods of their colleagues and predecessors to develop new ideas.
But when a known technique is too difficult to use in practice, mathematicians may neglect important—and otherwise solvable—problems.
Recently, I joined several mathematicians on a project to make one such technique easier to use. We produced a computer package to solve a problem called the “S-unit equation,” with the hope that number theorists of all stripes can more easily attack a wide variety of unsolved problems in mathematics.
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Wesleyan’s Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen teaches a math class Aug. 11 at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
This month, the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center is once again hosting its K-8 Math Institute for 29 school teachers from Vernon and Hamden, Conn. The 80-hour program aims to increase teachers’ mastery of math concepts as well as their confidence with math.
Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut, works with teachers at the Green Street Teaching and Learning Center.
Wesleyan Associate Professor of Mathematics Christopher Rasmussen is teaching the institute along with Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut. This is the fifth time the pair has taught the course together. The institute includes the content-intensive, 80-hour Intel Math course over the summer as a foundation for teachers, several follow-up workshops during the school year for advancing teaching practices and arts integration strategies, and two professional learning community sessions a year in the form of Math Potlucks.
Green Street Director Sara MacSorley said this year’s course is going very well.
“As a group, the participating teachers are strong in math and really engaged in the material,” she said. On this particular day, a Friday afternoon with temperatures soaring into the 90s, “there are lively discussions about fractions at each table.”
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Chris Rasmussen, assistant professor of mathematics, recently finished teaching a summer professional development course for K-8 teachers in the Danbury, Conn. school district.
The program, called Intel Math, increases the mathematical content knowledge of elementary and middle-school teachers, with the long-term goal of strengthening STEM training.
The Intel Math course ran eight hours a day for two weeks. Rasmussen co-taught the course with Sharon Heyman, a mathematics education specialist from the University of Connecticut.
In 2012, Rasmussen taught the course with a cohort of 15 teachers from around central Connecticut. This summer, he taught 23 teachers in the Danbury school district.
“The goal is to strengthen the mathematical knowledge of the participants to aid them in their own K-8 classrooms. Pedagogical issues are also discussed, but mathematics itself is the primary focus,” Rasmussen said.
This fall at Wesleyan, Rasmussen is teaching “Abstract Algebra” and “Algebra II.”