Fall 1992 Newsletter


Calculus Reform at Hendrix

Three years ago Bob Eslinger and Dwayne Collins decided to redesign how they teach calculus. Since then they have taken the best of several calculus reform programs and adapted them for Hendrix students and their own styles of teaching. According to Bob, the goal of their program has been to "engage the students as more active participants in the learning process." Group writing assignments and computer labs using Mathematica are integral components of the result. To ensure that students do not perceive the writing and computer labs as extraneous to what they are learning in class, all exams are given as take homes and students are encouraged to use Mathematica to help solve the problems on the exam. Although the result has been very successful, computer limitations are beginning to surface as new versions of Mathematica require memory that is not available in the Hendrix Mac lab. Bob and Dwayne are currently writing a grant proposal to significantly upgrade the computer lab at Hendrix not only for calculus needs but also for other mathematics, computer science and physics needs.

New Faculty

David Sutherland, a 1981 Hendrix graduate, is the newest member of our department. David received his M.A. and Ph.D. in mathematics from North Texas State University. His areas of interest include combinatorics and abstract algebra. During the past six years David taught at Middle Tennessee State where he developed an undergraduate mathematics research program . He is excited to be back at Hendrix and looks forward to working with our students. David is married to Pebble Jones Sutherland, a 1985 Hendrix graduate. Pebble is a pediatrician and has joined the Conway Children's Clinic. David and Pebble have a two year old daughter Susanna who loves the campus fish pond.

Undergraduate Research Report

Seven seniors completed undergraduate research projects in 1992: Cliff Anderson, "The Struggle for Existence: Growth in an Isolated Species;" Tricia Clark, "A Study of Risk Theory;" Matthew Dalby, "Protein Digestion and Ambiguity;" Karen Meyerdirk, "The Dynamics of Piecewise Linear Maps." Jennifer Miners, "A Generalization of the Multinomial Coefficient;" Sherrie Rine, "The Evolution of Cryptography;" and Sarah Street, "Surprise and Entropy." Cliff, Tricia, Karen, and Sarah made presentations at the OK-AR section MAA meeting.

Activity Credit

This year Zeev Barel is offering a problem solving seminar as an activity course. Previously Hendrix activity courses involved music or athletics. "Preparing for the Putnam exam, for example, is a valid activity for mathematics students, " says Zeev. Currently students may receive one credit for participating in an activity for six terms; now this opportunity is available to mathematics students.

1993 Hendrix-Rhodes-Sewanee Mathematics Symposium

The sixteenth annual Hendrix-Rhodes-Sewanee Symposium will be held at Hendrix on April 23 and 24. The 1992 symposium at Rhodes was especially exciting for us at Hendrix. For the first time students from Hendrix, Rhodes and Sewanee were joined by students from Middle Tennessee State University. They were accompanied by three MTSU faculty members who are Hendrix graduates: Jim Hart, Kevin Shirley and David Sutherland. Hendrix student Karen Meyerdirk presented her research "The Dynamics of Piecewise Linear Maps." Also Rhodes faculty member Terry England Lindquester (who attended Hendrix) had students presenting papers.

Alumni Contest

Drop us a postcard if you are able to identify this mathematics graduate. On April 1 we will randomly select one of the correct responses to receive a free Hendrix coffee mug.

Student Research at Acxiom

I spent this past summer doing research at Acxiom Corp. in Conway. The research, which was a continuation of a project I started last spring term under the direction of Dr. Collins, involved finding an efficient way to compress Acxiom's databases. Our initial idea was to use fractal theory in compression. This method has achieved compression ratios of up to 10,000:1 in image compression, but we found it be highly error-prone regarding Acxiom's specific databases. After investigating several other methods, we focused on the Huffman code, a lossless, variable length code. The rest of the summer I spent writing encoding and decoding programs in C and gathering statistics to determine if the Huffman compression method would be beneficial to Acxiom. All in all, the research was a success: Acxiom has decided to follow up on the compression in the next few years, and the whole project has turned into a nice senior research project for me. Jon Hester (class of '93)

Please keep in touch and let us know what you are doing. We especially would like your help in locating majors from 1950 or before. We would also like to hear your suggestions concerning our new newsletter.